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SIU Zeta Phi Beta sorority suit recalls 2004 Pi Kappa Alpha drowning

Here is the Sarah Lohman story excerpted from the Daily Egyptian with a link to her story
A lawsuit filed for alleged hazing in August 2005 against the University has yet to reach a conclusion, although it could happen soon.

The University filed a motion for summary judgment May 24 and if the motion is approved, a judge will decide the case instead of a jury.

The lawsuit was filed by three SIUC students who claimed their constitutional and civil rights were violated through the Student Judicial Affairs process.

Luke Crater, assistant general counselor for SIUC, said he doesn’t know what the time frame for the decision is. He said the suit is procedural right now, and they are waiting on the rulings.

In November 2004, Chantal Conley reported to SIUC Police a hazing incident from Oct. 3 to Oct. 7 by the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Conley and fellow pledge Dominique Winston accused five members of the sorority and five prospective members of paddling, punching, pushing and threatening them as part of a potential review process for induction to the predominantly black sorority.

The matter was handled by the University’s Student Judicial Affairs Office, which resulted in three-year suspensions for Nakia Collins and Tequeira Johnson and a two-year suspension for Monet Williams.

Carbondale lawyer Richard Fedder – the lawyer filing the suit – said juries are fact finders. If the judge decides there are no decisive facts to present to a jury, the summary judgment will be approved and a judge will decide the case.

Fedder said the lawsuit also cites discrimination as a factor in determining the punishment for the sorority members.

He compared the Zeta’s case to that of the Pi Kappa Alpha pledge who drowned during a fraternity-sponsored camping trip in 2004.

That fraternity was found guilty of eight counts of misconduct – none of which involved hazing. The fraternity was banned from campus, but no individual members suffered any legal or academic repercussions.

Fedder said discrimination caused the Zetas to be punished individually instead of collectively.

Fedder is finishing an argument against summary judgment. He said he doesn’t know how long the judge will need to make a decision for or against the summary judgment.

He said the case was originally scheduled to appear in court July 23, but the date may change depending on the judge’s decision.

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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