You see that picture up there? That’s Florida Governor Dan Akroyd signing into law the Chad Meredith Act
’s anti-hazing statute. And, really, I should be at the signing. Because without me, that act would never exist.
Back in college, I was the president of my fraternity and as president part of my job was to attend Intra Fratenrity Council, or IFC, meetings. One week, the meeting fell just after I had returned form a grueling Drill weekend with the Marines, where I was hazed until I passed out. And loved every minute of it. Well, this particular week the topic of said IFC meeting was hazing. I was asked my thoughts on the issue, and, being the motivated Devil Dog that I was, told them, “You know, you all make hazing sound like this awful, terrible thing. Did it ever occur to you that sharing a miserable experience brings people closer together? Makes them appreciate what they’ve earned? Without any adversity, we’re just handing letters out for no reason. Used responsibly, I think hazing is a valuable tool to the Greek system.” I was fired as president 2 weeks later.
That fall, after an on-campus Ludacris concert and Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, (where the Arizona Diamondbacks beat some team I’m not remembering right now) a few of my fraternity bothers decided it would be a good idea to try and swim across Lake Osceola, the raw-sewage and crocodile infested body of water in the middle of the UM campus. Filled to the brim with alcohol and marijuana, the boys entered the water as the outer bands of a category one hurricane were descending upon Coral Gables. The group was comprised of Travis Montgomery, the individual instrumental in my firing and consequently my replacement as President, Chad Meredith and a couple of other guys named Timmy and Dave. Chad was a pledge, the other three were brothers, including President Travis. Well, four guys went in the water, and only three came out. And I’ll be damned if the pledge was the one who couldn’t swim. Of course, it made big news. I was saddened to hear of Chad’s death, but also quickly phoned Channel 7 (Miami’s Sleaziest News Station) and gave them the names of the individuals involved. Since they’d fucked me, I figured I’d give one back. At any rate, it was a big story and the media called it a “hazing” incident since, you know, it involved frat guys and the youngest one died so it MUST be hazing. And again, I’ll be damned if every fucking news story that week didn’t mention that a “past president had made pro-hazing remarks at a recent campus-wide meeting.” I was never mentioned by name, but it was most certainly me. In true Miami slimeball lawyer fashion, attorneys started lining up to represent the Meredith family. They took the media’s statements and ran with them, saying it was an awful incident of obvious hazing, and that the fraternity should be held responsible. Right. Because Dave, Timmy and Travis forced poor, innocent, doped-up and drunk Chad Meredith into the lake and told him he had to swim across or he wasn’t “in.” Bullshit. He was a nice kid the few times I met him, but the reason he died was out and out stupidity. On his part. And there is no one to blame for his death but him.
But in America, parents never blame their children’s flaws on the children, and instead blamed the school, the fraternity, the other guys involved, the janitorial staff, Ludacris, and Luis Gonzales for giving them all a reason to celebrate. And blamed them to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Of course, since the media and all the parties who were never there and never met anyone involved deemed it hazing, some dipshit judge gave the Meredith’s a ridiculous amount of money for their son being a pothead idiot and deciding he could go swimming during a hurricane. God bless Lawyers. But the Meredith’s did not rest, and started appearing in Tallahassee on a regular basis with pictures of smiling, innocent Chad saying that if there were laws against hazing, he’d still be alive. No, Mrs. Meredith, if there were laws against underage drinking and marijuana use your son would still be alive. Oh, wait…… So, last year, Jeb Bush signed into law the Chad Meredith Act which, I believe, makes hazing a felony in the State of Florida. And had I not made that stupid speech, I probably would have remained president, and the attorneys would have had no basis for their argument. Had I still been president, I also doubt the chain of events that led to Chad’s death would have happened. So, if you are ever convicted of felony hazing (and is that a pussy phrase or what?) in Florida you can not only than overzealous lawyers, sensational media, and a doped-up college freshman, you can thank me. Because without White Dade, kids all over the state would still be exposed to such viscous practices as teamwork conquering adversity and respecting a title you have earned.