Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Curing the Madness

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Curing the Madness

Article excerpt

As institutions and police attempt to crack down on fraternity hazing, college officials hope that concerns about expulsions, fines, lawsuits, and jail may cause enough worry within the Greek organizations to temper the process dramatically.

Dr. Dolores Spikes, president of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, where five Kappa Alpha Phi pledges were hospitalized following a hazing ritual that involved daily paddling for eight weeks, wants to punish hazing victims as well as the ones who inflict the beatings.

"How else are you going to break the cycle of hazing for generations and generations?" Spikes said after the ritual came to light. "The person being hazed has to accept some responsibility."

A proposal to punish hazing victims as well as those who are doing the hazing is under consideration at the school. It would surpass hazing restrictions at other schools in the University of Maryland system and include expulsion from school as a punishment option.

However, use of the judicial system can bring mixed results.

In mid-June, a Maryland District Court Judge Robert Horsey dropped felony assault charges against four members of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity who were accused in the UMES incident. He said the pledges, who paid $500 to join the fraternity, should have left the group as others did - once the hazing began.

"I think they should have gotten smarter...and gotten out," said Horsey in a Washington Post story. "I don't think it's a case of assault that can be proven in court."

The four fraternity members still face misdemeanor charges of hazing and reckless endangerment.

An incident at Bennett College provides another example of an institution that tried to impose stricter penalties on those involved in hazing incidents than the courts would allow.

At the Greensboro, North Carolina, school, officials tried to bar from the commencement ceremonies two members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority because of their alleged participation in a hazing incident. A Guilford County Superior Court judge eventually ruled in favor of the sorority members, saying exclusion from the graduation would cause the students "irreparable injury" to their future careers and public embarrasment. …

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