Winthrop fraternity suspended for hazing

adouglas@heraldonline.comJanuary 18, 2013 

A Winthrop University fraternity has been suspended for hazing, the college announced Friday afternoon.

The school’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha--the nation’s first collegiate fraternity for African-American men--is suspended “until further notice,” according to a Winthrop news release.

The fraternity cannot use university resources, hold events on campus or reserve any of Winthrop’s space while it is suspended.

Winthrop staff members first learned about the hazing in late December.

The university’s Campus Police Department is “continuing interviews” related to the hazing, according to the news release.

Under state law, hazing includes “unauthorized treatment . . . of a subordinate student of a tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting, or humiliating nature.”

When evidence of hazing is found, state law provides for students to be “dismissed, expelled, suspended or punished.”

The Alpha Phi Alpha chapter at Winthrop was “engaging in verbal hazing and other prohibited practices,” university officials said Friday.

A preliminary inquiry has revealed that most of the behavior involved verbal hazing, the news release states.

The university said it was still trying to determine who was involved in the hazing.

Winthrop’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter adviser is staff member Jackie K. Brockington Jr., according to the school’s website. Brockington referred questions to Bethany Marlowe, Winthrop’s dean of students.

Marlowe could not be reached Friday evening.

The fraternity’s website lists Winthrop’s student government president Kambrell Garvin as a member of the school’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter. Garvin was voted Winthrop’s Homecoming King in November. He serves on the university’s search committee that is selecting finalists to succeed retiring President Anthony DiGiorgio’s seat.

Garvin could not be reached by The Herald on Friday evening.

The Alpha Phi Alpha chapter was established at Winthrop in 1980. The group identifies itself as “The E.L.I.T.E. Xi Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.”

The collegiate fraternity was founded on Dec. 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The fraternity has more than 35 college chapters and nearly 340 alumni chapters in 45 states, the District of Columbia and worldwide.

Winthrop has 15 national fraternities and sororities, according to the school’s website.

In January 2012, the school’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs named the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity as Winthrop’s “Chapter of the Month.” It was selected for drawing more than 200 students, faculty and community members to its annual Martin Luther King Jr. candlelight vigil.

The group had plans to hold the event again this year on Monday, a holiday commemorating King’s birthday. It was Friday whether the event would be held.

Nine Alpha Phi Alpha members at the University of Florida faced misdemeanor hazing charges last Spring for allegedly hitting fraternity pledges with paddles, the Gainesville Sun newspaper reported in April 2012.

Florida’s attorney’s office filed the charges against the college students on April 30, accusing them of a hazing ritual known as "thunderslaps,” the newspaper reported.

Winthrop said no indications have been found that students were injured or that alcohol was involved.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

Anna Douglas 803-329-4068

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