Police now investigating Hazing allegations at Penn State Altoona. A father blames the fraternity, in part, for his son’s suicide on Spring Break. This is the father’s heart-wrenching funeral oration for Marquise Braham:WHEN MARQUISE WAS ACCEPTED AT PENN STATE ON A PARTIAL SCHOLARSHIP, WE WERE ALL SO PROUD. HE LOVED MATH, AND WAS PLANNING TO MAJOR IN BIO-MEDICAL ENGINEERING. HE HAD A FULL SCHEDULE, TAKING 17 CREDITS, WORKING IN THE STUDENT CAFÉ AND WAS ALSO ELECTED TO BE SECRETARY OF THE RESIDENCE HALLS ASSOCIATION. MAILLE AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS ALREADY TOO MUCH OF A LOAD, BUT MARQUISE ALSO DECIDED TO PLEDGE FOR PHI SIGMA KAPPA. SHE AND I WERE OPPOSED, NOT BECAUSE WE HAD ANYTHING AGAINST FRATS, BUT BECAUSE WE WERE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT HIS TIME MANAGEMENT. HE GOT THROUGH THAT FIRST SEMESTER, THOUGH HIS GRADES SUFFERED A BIT, AS WE HAD FEARED. BUT THINGS WERE LOOKING MUCH BETTER IN HIS SECOND SEMESTER. HIS GRADES HAD IMPROVED, HE WAS SET TO BECOME AN “RA” IN THE FALL, WHICH WAS GOING TO BE A BIG COST SAVINGS, PLUS HE WAS PLANNING TO CHANGE HIS MAJOR TO KINESIOLOGY.

AS MOST OF YOU ALREADY KNOW, MARQUISE TOOK HIS OWN LIFE ON MARCH 14 WHILE HOME ON SPRING BREAK. THAT IS OFTEN A TABOO SUBJECT, BUT WE ARE SPEAKING OPENLY ABOUT IT. BASED ON WHAT WE SAW AND HEARD FROM HIM, EVERYTHING SEEMED TO BE GOING WELL FOR MARQUISE, BUT HIS CELL PHONE AND LAPTOP HAVE REVEALED A DARKER TALE. THE LAST CONVERSATION I HAD WITH MARQUISE WAS ABOUT LIVING HIS LIFE WITH INTEGRITY, BEING A LEADER AND NOT FOLLOWING THE HERD. I BELIEVE MARQUISE TOOK THAT MESSAGE TO HEART WHEN HE TOOK HIS LIFE. THINGS HE HAD BECOME INVOLVED IN AND DONE TO OTHERS WHILE AT PENN STATE BOTHERED HIS CONSCIENCE DEEPLY. HE WAS DOING HARM TO OTHERS AND DIDN’T SEE A WAY OUT OF HIS SITUATION, SO THE DAY BEFORE HE WAS TO RETURN TO SCHOOL, LEAPT TO HIS DEATH. I WANT TO BE CLEAR THAT I STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH MY SON’S CHOICE –NO SITUATION IS EVER SO HOPELESS THAT ONE SHOULD CHOOSE SUICIDE. WE WOULD ALL RATHER HAVE MARQUISE HERE WITH US NOW, BUT HE FELT HE WAS IN A SITUATION WHERE HE WAS HURTING PEOPLE.

THAT WAS CONTRARY TO THE WAY HE’D LIVED HIS ENTIRE LIFE, AND HE APPARENTLY FELT HE WAS UNABLE TO JUST WALK AWAY FROM IT. THAT’S ONE OF THE BURNING QUESTIONS I HOPE WE CAN GET ANSWERED…WHY HE FELT HE COULDN’T JUST LEAVE… BUT I AM PROUD OF MY SON: FOR NOT WANTING TO CAUSE SUFFERING TO OTHERS; FOR LIVING HIS LIFE WITH INTEGRITY; FOR HAVING A CONSCIENCE. WE LOVE YOU MARQUISE AND WE WILL MISS YOU, BUT YOU CAN BE PROUD OF THE WAY YOU LIVED YOUR LIFE, AS A DECENT, CARING, CHILD OF GOD.

I‘M NOT SURE IF ANY OF MARQUISE’S PHI SIGMA KAPPA BROTHERS ARE HERE, BUT I WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I’M NOT ANGRY WITH YOU…I’M CONCERNED ABOUT YOU. YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH THE SAME EXPERIENCES MARQUISE HAS. THE HAZING THAT WAS GOING ON IN THE PHI SIGMA KAPPA FRATERNITY WAS NOT NORMAL. IT WAS NOT OKAY, AND IT WAS NOT WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR. LIKE MARQUISE, WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING OUT OF FRAT LIFE WAS FRIENDSHIP, BROTHERHOOD…SOME INCREASED ACCESS TO GIRLS, AND PROBABLY A LITTLE DRINKING. THE REALITY WAS MUCH, MUCH WORSE– HEAVY DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE ALONG WITH PHYSICAL ABUSE. THE HAZING RITUALS, ALONE THAT YOU ALL DID COULD HAVE KILLED ANY ONE OF YOU! IN MARQUISE’S CASE, HE DIED OF A GUILTY CONSCIENCE OVER THE ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL ACTS THAT WERE A PART OF YOUR FRAT LIFE. AS A BIG BROTHER, AND AN OFFICER WITH PHI SIGMA KAPPA, MARQUISE HAD TO DO TO NEW PLEDGES WHAT HAD BEEN DONE TO YOU ALL WHEN YOU WERE PLEDGING, AND HE JUST COULDN’T DO IT. HE COULD NOT DO HARM TO HIS BROTHERS. HE CHOSE DEATH RATHER THAN GO BACK TO CAMPUS AFTER SPRING BREAK AND HARM ANY OF YOU. HE KNEW IT WAS WRONG. IT IS WRONG! HE COULDN’T FORGIVE HIMSELF, SO HE SHARED SOME DETAILS WITH A CLOSE HIGH SCHOOL PRIEST, THEN JUMPED TO HIS DEATH A FEW DAYS LATER.

IF YOU LOVED HIM LIKE HE LOVED YOU, YOU’LL TELL THE AUTHORITIES WHAT YOU KNOW. MARQUISE WASN’T PROTECTING AN ORGANIZATION…HE WAS PROTECTING YOU, HIS BROTHERS! HE REFUSED TO DO HARM TO HIS BROTHERS! HE COULD NO MORE HARM ANY OF YOU, THAN HE COULD HIS 8 YEAR-OLD BROTHER, SEBASTIEN. MARQUISE CHOSE TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF RATHER THAN GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND DO HARM TO YOU. HE WOULD, LITERALLY, RATHER DIE THAN HARM HIS BROTHERS. IF YOU RESPECT HIS LIFE AND HIS SACRIFICE, YOU WILL TELL THE AUTHORITIES WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE HAZING RITUALS THAT MADE VICTIMS OF ALL OF YOU! IF YOU LOVE “BABY QUISE” AS MUCH AS HE LOVED YOU. IF YOU WISH TO TRULY HONOR HIS MEMORY AND SACRIFICE, NOW IS THE TIME TO STAND UP FOR YOUR FALLEN BROTHER AND TELL THE AUTHORITIES WHAT YOU KNOW.

I DON’T WANT ANYONE TO FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR PROTECTING THE ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED BY A CAMPUS FRATERNITY. THAT’S NOT WHAT ANY OF YOU SIGNED UP FOR. THEY DECEIVED AND TOOK ADVANTAGE OF YOU. YOU OWE THEM NOTHING! NOW THERE IS THE ADDED GUILT OF MARQUISE’S DEATH ON YOUR CONSCIENCE BECAUSE OF THESE SENSELESS HAZING RITUALS. PLEASE, DON’T CARRY THAT BURDEN– RELEASE IT. JUST LET IT GO. ALL DECENT PEOPLE HAVE A CONSCIENCE, AND IT WILL EAT AWAY AT YOU. I DON’T WANT ANYONE ELSE TO DIE OR ANY OTHER PARENTS TO EXPERIENCE THE PAIN AND HEARTACHE THE BRAHAM FAMILY WILL BE SUFFERING WITH THE REST OF OUR LIVES. DON’T JEOPARDIZE YOUR FUTURES WHICH HOLD SO MUCH PROMISE. PLEASE, STAND UP FOR MARQUISE AND YOURSELVES AND JUST TELL THE AUTHORITIES WHAT YOU KNOW.

THANK YOU.

RICH BRAHAM, MARQUISE’S DAD

As I had predicted, based on all other hazing deaths, the top perpetrator in the death of Robert Champion received but one year’s sentence today from Judge Lebut, ignoring the State’s recommendation of imposing a nine-year penalty.

Jessie Baskin, 22, faces a judge’s sentencing today in the death of Robert Champion. Historically, judges have threatened long sentences during pre-sentencing meetings, but no sentence in a college hazing death has ever resulted in more than a two-year felony conviction. The judge in this case has said nine years is possible. My guess is that the actual sentence will be between a year and a day for manslaughter and three years. Five years would send a harsh message. With all the other defendants in the FAMU hazing death getting light punishments, I’m expecting more in the way of a lighter punishment for Baskin. –Hank Nuwer, Moderator.

High Point University (North Carolina)

Delta Sigma Phi

Concussion leading to aspiration of stomach contents, then death.

The parents of Robert Eugene Tipton, Jr. have sued the pledge-master of Delta Sigma Phi, son of school president Nido Qubein, alleging that an alleged attack on their son was during a 2012 hazing session gone violent, mainly by a single additional member who allegedly attacked Tipton in a rage. Alsoinvolved in the suit is a university security officer. The parents allege a coverup and destruction of evidence.

 

The parents of Robert Eugene Tipton, Jr. have sued the pledge-master of Delta Sigma Phi, son of school president Nido Qubein, alleging that an alleged attack on their son was during a hazing session gone violent, mainly by a single member who allegedly attacked Tipton in a rage. Also involved in the suit is a university security officer. The parents allege a coverup and destruction of evidence. Tipton suffered a concussion and died from aspiration of contents in his stomach.