Fisk limits fraternities after report of hazing
By MICHAEL CASS
Community service and training, yes. Parties or adding new brothers and sisters, no.
Responding to an incident of alleged fraternity hazing after suspending three of its eight Greek organizations, Fisk University has pulled the plug on its fraternities' and sororities' good times for the next year.
The organizations won't be allowed to throw parties or recruit new members in 2004-05, school spokeswoman Brianna Latham said yesterday. She said she didn't know what led to the three suspensions.
Students will spend the year instead learning about proper behavior for fraternity and sorority members. Professors and other employees also will participate in the training so they can recognize when students have been hazed.
Any activity that humiliates a potential fraternity or sorority member — black Greek organizations don't use the term ''pledge,'' Latham said — generally is considered hazing, whether it's life-threatening or simply embarrassing.
But the Greek groups, which don't have houses on Fisk's small, 800-student campus, won't shut down entirely. They'll be required to do community-service projects throughout the year, Latham said.
''We want to help them focus on the original intent of each of the organizations, which is to serve and uplift,'' she said. ''We don't want this to become a pattern.''
An incident last week that Latham refused to discuss in any detail is under investigation. Citing ''officials,'' NewsChannel5.com reported that a prospective member of Kappa Alpha Psi was beaten on the buttocks with a paddle so much that he couldn't walk immediately afterward.
Latham said only that the incident is under investigation. She said the student, who was treated and released at a local hospital last week and has not yet returned to campus, and his family ''absolutely do not want any publicity'' and have declined to file a police report.
Kappa Alpha Psi is one of the three Greek organizations that had been suspended before the new moratorium on Greek activity began.
Fisk's new president, Hazel O'Leary, and other administrators discussed the moratorium on Greek activity in a ''town hall meeting'' with 200 to 250 students Wednesday night. Latham said O'Leary was in meetings yesterday and not available to comment.
The training for students will include information that is part of freshman orientation, Latham said. Fisk, a historically black school, also plans to have two authors on hazing and black fraternity life come to campus to give speeches.
Latham said the students who attended Wednesday's meeting seemed to take the news well, but not everyone had gotten the word by late Thursday afternoon.