‘Goat’ describes frat hell

By on March 22, 2005

 'Goat' describes frat hellBy Tracy F. Harris

   At the University of Louisville, hazing is forbidden. All the Greek organizations deny any allegations of hazing, and the rest of the student body has no way of knowing otherwise.

Brad Land can tell you other universities are the same way. It’s just as Newsweek wrote: “From now on the definition [for hazing] should simply read: see Brad Land’s memoir, ‘Goat.’”

When Land went to Clemson University, he pledged his brother’s fraternity. In the handbook for Kappa Sigma, hazing was prohibited, but Land experienced a number of violent rituals where the pledges were hurt and ridiculed. The pledges were referred to as goats, and meant to “bah” like them.

Thus was inspired the title for Land’s highly acclaimed book, which debuts today. “Goat” recounts Land’s rough few years after high school, beginning with a party in 1995.

After the party, he agreed to give two guys a ride. The guys beat Land nearly to death, stole his car and left him on the side of the road. After recovering physically but not mentally, he went to join his brother at Clemson.

The fraternity had changed his brother, and it began to change Land, too. One incident finally turned both Land boys, however, and they quit Kappa Sig and went home.

“Goat” is a 208-page read that you’ll finish in a few hours. Land, now 27, pulls you into the story and drags you through it. Land writes as though he’s talking directly to the reader. There are no quotes, just incredible descriptions of haunting memories.

Still reeling from the robbery and assault, the psychological implications that the frat brought nearly drove Land insane. He began collecting things, sticking everything into his pockets until they were bulging full and rattling. After all the tumultuous events began to draw to a close, Land and his brother visited the place where he was robbed a year and half before. Revisiting the place allowed Land to take a step forward — he finally emptied his pockets.

“Reach inside my pockets and pull out all the receipts the campus map the class schedule all the movie stubs the stone the matchbooks the green string the small glass bluebird the used lighters the plastic tiger cut from an Exxon gas card the Band-Aid all the change and crumpled cigarette packs the plastic leaf I got from Will’s grave.”

So ends Land’s memoir. It’s a harrowing, sometimes gruesome tale that’s impossible to put down, a compelling read for anyone in college.

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