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Elizabeth City State University officials tightlipped as school confirms hazing incident involved injries

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riday, October 03, 2008

Campus police and other law enforcement agencies are investigating a hazing incident at Elizabeth City State University that apparently involved either a fraternity or sorority and resulted in injuries to at least one student.

ECSU Chancellor Willie Gilchrist confirmed in a prepared statement Friday that the hazing incident occurred. But he did not say when or where, adding that officials are still compiling the facts on what took place.

“We are continuing our investigation into the alleged incidence of hazing involving our students,” he said. “It is important to have all of the facts before we take any disciplinary action. The safety of our students is our top objective, and we take the potential violation of our hazing policy very seriously.”

According to stophazing.com, an anti-hazing group, hazing “refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”

ECSU spokeswoman Kesha Williams said on Thursday that ECSU campus police were collaborating with both the State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney’s office on the probe.

A SBI spokeswoman said Friday, however, that the agency has not yet received a request to investigate a hazing incident at ECSU.

District Attorney Frank Parrish said his office is looking into the incident, which apparently involves injuries.

“There is an investigation that is active at this moment of injuries that were sustained in a hazing incident at the university,” Parrish said. “Whether anybody will be charged with anything is still unknown at this point.”

Williams said hazing of students is a punishable offense at ECSU, and is not tolerated.

“University administrators do not condone hazing and will make every effort to make sure Greek organizations abide the hazing policy published in our student handbook and calendar,” she said.

“University administrators have a zero tolerance for hazing and will fully punish violators for their actions.”

School officials declined to confirm further details of the alleged hazing incident.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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