Hazing News

My view: Kappa Alpha Psi Polemarch must expel hazing felons

Jason Harris and Michael Morton (scroll down for pix) had the world going for them.

Proud members of Kappa Alpha Psi, they defied their national organization’s order not to haze.

Harris took a less active part, but nonetheless a Florida jury’s message rang loud and clear: “Sell Out” and it’s “Cell In” for you.

The lawyers of both plan to appeal, arguing that Florida’s law on “serious bodily harm” was vague and that Judge Kathleen Dekker shouldn’t have offered a definition. We’ll see where that goes.

Three other defendants remain in limbo. While the jury could not convict, neither could it find the other members innocent. Still ahead is a decision to retry the Kappas or let them go.

Now there is just one more verdict to render. Kappa Alpha Psi’s Polemarch (national president) Samuel Hamilton has justly and strongly urged an end to hazing.

Polemarch Hamilton, in my view, now must send an equally strong, albeit, unpopular decision.

A Florida jury has said Mr. Harris and Mr. Morton are guilty of felony hazing.

Right now, Jason Harris and Michael Morton, although convicted of felony hazing in the beating of a pledge, still remain in the company of Watson Diggs (a KAP founder), tennis legend Arthur Ashe, columnist William Raspberry, and civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy.

Sadly, Mr. Harris and Mr. Morton have chosen by their hazing behavior to prevent a potential member from enjoying membership in one of America’s most prestigious organizations.

They must be expelled by following whatever bylaws are appropriate.

You paddle a butt and you get yours kicked in court.

That’s a hard lesson for all fraternity and sorority members–and not just the Kappas–to learn.

Now there’s one more hard lesson to learn.

The public needs to hear that Kappa Alpha Psi regrets it must end the membership of Mr. Harris and Mr. Morton for hazing.

It’s a tough call.

It must be made.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; 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 current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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