A black student's death during a hazing ritual in Belgium has raised painful issues of racism, elitism, colonialism—and people who might be getting away with manslaughter, the New York Times reports. Sanda Dia was 20 when he died trying to enter a nearly all-white fraternity at the Catholic University of Leuven near Brussels. Over 24 hours in December 2018, members of the fraternity had Dia and two other pledges undergo a hazing ritual that included excessive drinking and standing outside in ice water, where they bit the heads off live mice, ate whole goldfish, and downed fish oil that induced vomiting. Dia, left outside the longest, died of multiple organ failure. His death was considered a terrible accident at the time, but times have changed and new evidence has emerged.
For one thing, members of the now-defunct Reuzegom frat have scrambled to delete text messages and clean the cabin where Dia was hazed. Media reports have highlighted racism at Reuzegom, including an apparent member in a Ku Klux Klan robe, as prosecutors suggest charges of involuntary manslaughter in the case. Amid all this, political turmoil in Belgium is pitting anti-immigrant nationalists against liberals who recently forced the removal of statues of King Leopold II, the overseer of colonialization in Africa that may have led to 10 million deaths in the 1880s, per CNN. But for Dia's family, it's still grief and bitterness: "They thought, 'He's just some Black guy,'" his Senegalese-born father said of the fraternity members. "'We are powerful and nothing can happen to us.'" (Read more racism stories.)