Sense & Sensitivity

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is currently pledging a fraternity at his school. I was in a sorority myself, and I know that sometimes hazing is a part of the pledging process. I speak with my son frequently, and he seems tired and overworked. There seem to be too many requirements for him to be accepted into this fraternity. Although I try talking some sense into him, he is adamant to keep pledging. He will pay for the fraternity himself, so I can't threaten to take it away from him by not funding it. I was considering contacting his university as an anonymous tipster, but I don't know if I'd be taking away my son's brotherhood and friends. I know times have changed since I joined a sorority, and I think everyone should adopt a no-hazing policy. Should I contact the university? I'm worried these boys are going to take things too far, and I don't want to see my son hurt. — Worrying from Home, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR WORRYING FROM HOME: Being tired and overworked are part of the pledge process for many students because they still have to fit in their studies as they participate in a broad range of fraternal activities. That is different from hazing. If you fear that your son's life may be in danger, by all means, contact the school. If you are just generally worried about him but are in touch with him regularly, I would recommend continuing to listen to him without stepping in. If you ever sense that he is unsafe, make the call.

DEAR HARRIETTE: About a month ago, I let my roommate borrow my car for an emergency. I assumed this would be a one-time occurrence. He said it was for an emergency! Boy, was I wrong. Since the first time I let him borrow my car, my roommate has taken it skiing for the day, has used it whenever he needs to go to the grocery store and has even asked me if he could borrow it for the weekend. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I usually don't like other people driving my car, however my roommate never took the liberty of asking me if he could use my car after the first time. He just says, "It's all right if I take your car now, right? You're hanging out at home anyway." I've never been paid back for gas or properly asked to borrow my car. I need to put my foot down and have my inconsiderate roommate realize that he is not paying for the lease on my car and therefore does not have the right to drive it. — My Wheels, Atlanta

DEAR MY WHEELS: Take your keys back and keep them where your roommate cannot find them. Tell him that he can no longer drive your car. Most important is that he is not on your insurance. Explain that you let him use your car once in an emergency but cannot allow it again. Rather than going into his bad manners, stick to the insurance. It really is a deal-breaker.

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