by Ashley Naples
The day is coming where hazing on college campuses can become very expensive for both the organization and the university that is allowing the hazing to occur. A giant $4 million dollar lawsuit has been filed against the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for beating a student so bad that he had to go to the hospital for five straight days.
According to Wbaltv.com, the suit was filed against the Baltimore Alumni Chapter and five of its leaders, accusing them of participating in the hazing. In case you’re not aware, Maryland has very serious anti-hazing laws. So, not only does hazing lead to serious civil consequences, it can also lead to criminal penalties and jail time.
Dedric Rogers, Kenneth Pough, Jose Biaz, Tyree Williams, Mark Briggs, the fraternity and the Baltimore Alumni chapter are all being implicated in the lawsuit. The suit was filed by Johnny Powell II, who is accusing the organization of hazing, false imprisonment, negligence and gross negligence.
Once you hear what allegedly happened, you may find yourself shocked.
Powell was a junior at Stevenson University and pledged at Coppin State in order to start a chapter on his own campus. According to the lawsuit, four of the five men mentioned in the lawsuit punched, slapped and caned Powell and three other pledges so badly that he ended up in the hospital for five days straight.
Powell claims that he was forced to stand in a bucket of ice water, while other members poured salt into it. He says that he was also forced to drink alcohol, which they poured on him, and they even poured garlic powder into his mouth.
Jimmy Bell, the lawyer for Powell, says that his client wanted to quit, but was threatened by other members. He was allegedly told that the other three men pledging with him would be punished even worse if he were to leave the line and stop pledging.
Eventually, Powell went to the Franklin Square Hospital for five days after allegedly being abused by the members of the group. Powell’s attorney says that his aunt called campus security out of concern for her nephew, but the university’s officials “blew her off.”
Making matters worse, Powell’s attorney says that no one from the organization even interviewed Powell about what happened and conducted no investigation. Powell was accepted into the fraternity, but was allegedly bullied and threatened to be beaten further if he were to file charges or a criminal complaint.
FINANCIAL JUNETEENTH LESSONS FROM THIS STORY (PROVIDED BY DR BOYCE WATKINS, AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, “EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE: A GUIDE FOR MINORITY STUDENTS”):
1) Hazing is probably one of the most ridiculous, counter-productive and dangerous activities that occur on a college campus. After teaching on campuses for the last 20 years, I’ve seen students die because of hazing, drop their GPA until they were college drop outs, and become lifetime alcoholics after taking their first drink on a college campus. The hazing process is a horrific destraction from the amazing potential of young students and has ruined lives in the process. It also damages the reputation of our most prestigious and respected Black Greek Letter Organizations and causes them to deviate from their chosen purpose.
2) Lawsuits like this one are serving as a warning to those who stubbornly hold onto old traditions without concern for the consequences. Don’t be surprised if students start to enter the pledging process just for the opportunity to let someone do something stupid that will serve as grounds for a lawsuit. National Greek Letter Organizations should find strategies to shield themselves from such liability, because this lawsuit is only one of many that will continue to be filed as long as young people are not taught intelligent and civilized ways to prepare students for membership into their organizations. In other words, there will be people actually TRYING to be hazed so they can file multi-million dollar lawsuits if you’re dumb enough to create your own liability.