UM fraternity suspended over hazing allegations Anonymous letter cited beatings

April 15, 1993|By Shanon D. Murray and David Michael Ettlin | Shanon D. Murray and David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writers

The suspension of a campus fraternity during an investigation of alleged hazing and injuries to pledges was announced yesterday by the University of Maryland at College Park.

Omega Psi Phi's suspension was prompted by an anonymous letter sent to university officials and police, as well as area news organizations.

The letter named victims of alleged beatings as well as the "big brothers" of the fraternity who the writer said were responsible for the assaults.

"The university police immediately began an investigation which may result in the filing of criminal and/or campus disciplinary charges as the facts warrant," Dr. William L. Thomas Jr., the campus vice president for student affairs, said in a prepared statement.

"Based on our review of the anonymous report and preliminary information from the university police investigation," Dr. Thomas said, "we believe there are sufficient grounds to suspend all organizational activities of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Suspension is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice from this office."

The statement, released by campus President William E. Kirwan, added: "The university regards hazing as a serious disciplinary offense. If proven, it can result in the dismissal of individual students and the banning of student organizations."

The identity of the letter's author, who claimed to be "a young female student" employed by the campus student-aid office, also was the subject of an investigation -- in large part because the writer said the job had given her access to home addresses of the victims and she sent copies of the letter to their parents.

Information in office files is confidential, student-aid director Ulysses S. Glee said yesterday, adding that if the letter's author is identified, she likely would be fired.

The writer claimed that "brutal incidents of hazing" occur on the campus "almost nightly," that she decided to make the allegations public "after talking with fellow students, members of sororities . . . and after observing the pledges of this fraternity limping around on campus."

She said the victims identified in the letter all had required hospital treatment for hazing injuries, including a concussion, a fractured ankle, broken ribs, and a "busted" eardrum.

Several of the purported hazing victims reached by the Diamondback campus newspaper denied any connection with the fraternity.

Andre Smith, president of the College Park chapter of the national black service fraternity, denied it was responsible for any of the injuries to students cited in the anonymous letter. "It's totally outrageous and ridiculous," he said.

The woman's letter said, "I have seen these young men walk around campus with their black eyes, swollen faces and hands, and bodies that cannot bend due to the intense aches and pains brought on by their 'big brothers.'

"They sleep through their classes due to exhaustion and even resort to theft to make ends meet as these 'big brothers' deplete the money of the pledges."

The writer, saying the fraternity operated "like a common gang of thugs," said she did not give her name "for fear of violent reprisal."

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