Michael came into our lives on June 12, 1990. He left 18 years later, on November
21, 2008, during a Sigma Nu fraternity hazing at Utah State University. When Michael
was with us he brought much joy, love, laughter, faith, hope, and honor into our
lives. Although Michael is gone from our presence, his gifts remain with us for a
Surely it is every parents desire to bring some meaning to their child's death. It
is not done easily or naturally. While the platitudes and cliches remain, Michael
died from direct fraternity hazing and is now absent from our lives. As we continue
to scramble for the whys and wherefores and give some conclusive measure to such a
visible and glaring absence in our lives, we are constantly reminded that planned
and choreographed college hazing goes on to take lives of American college students
on a tragic continuum of indifference and neglect.
While one of our primary goals over the last few years has been to promote the
passage of good and effective anti-hazing legislation, we find that a general lack
of awareness on the part of the public has resulted in a hesitancy of lawmakers to
introduce and promote the enactment of meaningful legislation addressing chronic
bullying and hazing on both the high school and college levels. While there are
several individuals to thank, we especially note the support received from State
Representative Carol Spackman Moss, who expressed a willingness to step forward and
further anti-hazing legislation.
That being said, academic professionals, district prosecutors, judicial members,
and an apparent majority of state lawmakers, among others, continue to display a
queasy indifference to drawing attention to a critical epidemic effecting the safety
of our young people children both locally and nationally. Unaddressed bullying and
hazing will continue to result in loss of life.
As a family still suffering the unmitigated pain of losing a loved one, we continue
to meet with parent groups, and high school and college-age young people in sharing
Michael's story, as a family committed to giving further meaning to the loss of our
While we were late in recognizing the perils of hazing, bullying, and binge
drinking, we are now only too aware of the increasing numbers of alcohol-related
deaths across the country. Contrary to popular belief, what we don't know WILL hurt
us. Parents, talk to your children. Knowledge is power. Make them aware that
bullying and hazing will cost lives, excessive alcohol kills, and unrestrained
social/peer pressure is potentially devastating.
Re-commit to life.
George and Jane Stark
The Michael Starks Creed of Friendship
As members of a community of young people that encourages true friendship, we embrace an ideal that challenges us to be responsible for the safety and well-being of others.
We demonstrate honesty, courage, and love by respecting ourselves and others for both our differences and our similarities. We celebrate all people, their individual needs and their personal well-being in pursuit of a greater good, and in times of greatest need, we put others’ safety and the value of human life before our own fears.
I choose to be a member of a community that cares. I am HONEST. I have COURAGE. I LOVE others. I am a true FRIEND.