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- HAZING HOTLINE CONTINUES TO DETER HAZING
- DEATH AT PENN STATE LEADS TO CHARGES AGAINST ATO AND FIJI CHAPTERS AND 2 STUDENTS
- ALPHA PHI ALPHA INVOKES NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP MORATORIUM
Newsletter > January 2010 > "ALPHA PHI ALPHA INVOKES NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP MORATORIUM"
ALPHA PHI ALPHA INVOKES NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP MORATORIUM
Daniel McCarthy, Manley Burke
Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity of Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. Dubois and numerous other prominent African-Americans, took the dramatic step of halting all new membership intakes for all of its undergraduate chapters effective January 1, 2010. Alpha Phi Alpha General President Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., notified the fraternity’s membership by email and a press release available on alpha-phi-alpha.com to start the new year.
According to published reports, the moratorium followed a hazing incident at Fort Valley State University in which a new member was seriously injured and hospitalized for more than a week. Bryson Trumaine Arney, a 21-year-old member of the chapter, has been charged with felony-aggravated battery in the incident. Mr. Arney faces potential prison time, fines, and of course, the possibility of a civil lawsuit.
The incident at its chapter at Fort Valley State University is only the latest in a string of hazing incidents involving Alpha Phi Alpha at chapters across the country the past couple of decades. Rather than sit back and let similar incidents continue to occur across the country, Alpha Phi Alpha made the very difficult decision to shut its entire new membership intake procedure down and start over.
Because of the importance of the message, and the general applicability of the issue, it is worth quoting Mr. Mason’s statement at length here. Mr. Mason stated, in part, “Following my review of 2009, it became clear to me that one area that needs our immediate focus is the conduct of brothers involved in the intake process. Our current process was designed with the assumption that our members would conduct themselves honorably and with care. Regretfully, in several instances, that has not occurred. The failure of some of our members to behave honorably and with care has exposed the fraternity again to unprecedented risks of loss.
“Our organization should not, and will not, await the occurrence of a catastrophic loss before it acts to rein in those who engage in risky behavior, behavior that at times they illegally associate with our intake process and the fraternity in general.
“I believe Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. must not conduct a new cycle of membership intake until it can correct and eliminate the problem of some brothers violating our strict rules against hazing.
“This means that ALL MEMBERSHIP INTAKE ACTIVITIES SHALL BE AND ARE HEREBY SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. (Emphasis in original).
“Any member chapter or officer found in violation of this membership-intake suspension order will be disciplined up to and including expulsion from the fraternity.
“We must ensure the safe and orderly membership-intake process of the fraternity. I encourage each of you to support this moratorium, and to take the next several weeks to consider ways to help us make the process safer, more efficient and more rewarding to both the aspirants and the brothers.
“Every applicant for membership must have the assurance that we are doing all we can to enable their safe entry into Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Every brother must be committed to follow the rules and policies that govern this organization….”
This should serve as an important reminder to all Greek organizations that the national organizations must lead the way to ensure that individual chapters and individual members are not hazing. Even if your organization has the best hazing policy and new member program on paper, you must diligently ensure that such policies are followed. The failure to enforce your policies opens the door for potential liability should a member be injured or worse because of hazing.
Alpha Phi Alpha should be commended for taking the step that it did in suspending new member intakes across the country. Hopefully the moratorium will serve as an immediate wake-up call for their members, and for all Greeks, that hazing cannot continue to occur.
In the article “Verdict in Phi Delta Case at Missouri” in November, 2009 issue, the article incorrectly stated that Phi Delta Theta was dismissed as a witness. The article should have stated that Phi Delta Theta was dismissed as a defendant. We apologize for the error.