Student at UTC alleges hazing

Student at UTC alleges hazing

September 15th, 2009 by Jacqueline Koch in News

Defendants in the lawsuit

Shareef Smith (member)

Daren Hendricks (member)

Geston Luellon (member)

Michael Lane (member)

Donald Crawford (member)

Kaller McCown (member)

Brandon Bess (member)

Jarret Spence (member)

Levar Brown, advisor

George E. Woodruff Jr., alumni chapter

Willie E. Brooks Jr., polemarch for south central province

Source: Lawsuit

What is hazing?

Hazing is any intentional or reckless act, on or off university property, by one or more students, which is directed against any other student and endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student. It also includes inducing or coercing a student to endanger his or her mental or physical health or safety. Hazing can cover treatment of a violent, abusive, shameful, insulting or humiliating nature.

Source: UTC Student Rights and Responsibilities

For the second time this year, a UTC Greek organization is facing public allegations of hazing.

The most recent accusation stems from initiation in fall 2008, when student Jamaal Strickland said he was subjected to "beating, striking or paddling" as a Kappa Alpha Psi pledge, according to a lawsuit filed Aug. 31 in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

Mr. Strickland suffered a severe injury to his left leg and incurred substantial medical expenses, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney John Whitfield Jr. Mr. Strickland is seeking $1 million total in compensatory and punitive damages.

"The Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. was negligent for failing to supervise the members of the fraternity and for allowing them to participate in hazing activities that caused a personal injury to Jamaal Strickland," according to the lawsuit, which names several fraternity members, the fraternity itself, the alumni chapter and the fraternity adviser as co-defendants.

The statute of limitations in Tennessee for a personal injury civil suit is one year.

Neither the Kappa Alpha Psi defendants nor Mr. Strickland returned messages seeking comment Monday. Mr. Whitfield, who's based in Nashville, declined to comment when reached by phone Monday afternoon.

The school investigated the incident last fall and the fraternity was placed on inactive status, said UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell.

"The university did find enough evidence to support the allegations of hazing," he said.

The fraternity cannot apply for reinstatement until 2013, he said.

Kappa Alpha Psi national Executive Director Richard Lee Snow said he had no comment.

The national organization, based in Philadelphia, was founded in 1911 at Indiana University to "raise the sights of black collegians to stimulate them to accomplishments higher than they might have imagined," according to its Web site.

According to a joint statement signed in 2000 by members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, to which Kappa Alpha Psi belongs, "each organization shall enforce severe penalties, including expulsion, for proven violations of its policies against hazing and impose sanctions against a chapter involved and cooperate with the university in implementing sanctions by the university."

In April, a UTC student was arrested in connection with alleged hazing incidents involving the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Seirra Smith, now 23, faces two counts of assault.

She appeared in Hamilton County General Sessions Court in August and her case was bound over to Criminal Court. A new court date has not been set, records show.