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Hazing News

Unrecognized sorority at Plymouth State (XAZ) continues with a handful of members

Moderator: Following the arrests of four Chi Alpha Zeta women late last year, the sorority continues in spite of mass transfers, according to links on the sorority’s web page. Kelly Nester’s death at another unrecognized sorority (Sigma Kappa Omega) drew national headlines, as did the subsequent lawsuit.

–Link to Today Show and Richard Nester

Only three recognized sororities and no fraternities are listed on PSU’s Greek site.

–Chi Alpha Zeta Alumni cookout 2007

There does not appear to be a valid YAZ pledge class, at least not officially for this unsanctioned group, since 2005.

YAZ MySpace page
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Nackground below:

By MELANIE ASMAR
Monitor staff
November 10. 2006 6:56AM

Four 21-year-old students at Plymouth State University and one former
student were arrested this week in connection with hazing, giving
alcohol to minors and simple assault. The five women were associated
with Chi Alpha Zeta, an unsanctioned, off-campus sorority.

Students Meagan Ford of Lyndeborough, Jillian Sargent of Wilton, Amanda
Gomes of Barrington, R.I., and Alana Hokans of Wethersfield, Conn., were
arrested Tuesday after several students told officials two weeks ago
about “illegal hazing activities,” the college said in a news release.
Former student Ashley Thomas, 21, of Gilford was also arrested.

This is the second suspected hazing incident to occur at Plymouth State
in the past three years. In October 2003, a student was killed while
pledging a different unsanctioned sorority.

Authorities haven’t released any details about the recent alleged hazing
activities. The five women were released on personal recognizance bail
the same day they were arrested, Plymouth State spokesman Christopher
Williams said. They’re scheduled to be arraigned in Plymouth District
Court on Dec. 18.

The students will also face disciplinary action by the college, which
could involve suspension, Williams said.

“The university is committed to providing a safe and supportive
environment in which to live and learn,” college President Sara Jayne
Steen said in a news release. “We take these charges very seriously.”

Three years ago, 20-year-old Kelly Nester was killed while pledging
Sigma Kappa Omega. She and other pledges were blindfolded and forced to
ride in the back of a sport utility vehicle driven by one of the
sorority sisters.

Nester, of Coventry, R.I., died when the SUV crashed into an embankment
and rolled off the road. None of the four sorority members in the SUV,
including the driver, was charged in connection with her death.

Frustrated, Nester’s family filed a lawsuit against the college and the
sorority sisters, alleging that the school failed to control the
sorority and that the sisters failed to ensure the safety of Nester and
other pledges.

Most of the claims have been settled out of court over the past two and
a half months, according to the Nesters’ lawyer, Dan Duckett. Duckett
said yesterday that the settlements were financial, but he refused to
reveal the dollar amounts. A claim against sorority sister Nicole Little
of Londonderry is set to go to trial in January, Duckett said.

By yesterday afternoon, Nester’s father, Rick Nester, had heard about
the recent hazing arrests at Plymouth State. Reached at home in Rhode
Island, Rick Nester said he was glad things were turning out differently
this time: No one died, he said, and the police charged the sorority
sisters allegedly responsible.

But even though the college seems to be learning from its mistakes, Rick
Nester said he’s still angry that the students involved in his
daughter’s death have gone unpunished by the law.

“I give credit to Plymouth State,” he said of the recent arrests.
“They’re in a tough position and they’re doing the right thing. But what
about justice for my daughter? It’s been three years and nothing has
been done about it.”

Most of Rick Nester’s anger is directed toward the four sorority sisters
who he says never took responsibility for killing his daughter. He’s not
as mad at Plymouth State; Rick Nester said he’s come to understand how
hard it is for colleges to regulate non-sanctioned sororities and
fraternities.

Hank Nuwer, an Indiana college professor who’s written four books on
hazing, said non-sanctioned Greek groups are more dangerous than
sanctioned ones because they’re not governed by the rules of national
organizations. Often run by alumni or students kicked out of sanctioned
groups, the unofficial organizations “just become a sort of drinking
club or a club not based on values,” Nuwer said.

Williams, Plymouth State’s spokesman, said he doesn’t know how many
unsanctioned fraternities or sororities there are at Plymouth State.
After Nester’s death, the college put a four-year moratorium on the
expansion of the Greek community, he said, and officials set about
evaluating the groups that already existed. They’re expected to decide
by next year whether the school should have Greek organizations at all.

In the past three years, five fraternities and sororities have lost
their recognition, Williams said. Only three sororities, and no
fraternities, are now sanctioned by the college. Williams said the
groups must abide by the rules laid out in the student handbook, which
prohibits hazing, or face losing university recognition.

Hazing is defined in the handbook as any activity that is likely to
cause “unreasonable physical, mental or emotional harm.”

A list of prohibited activities includes alcohol abuse, paddle swats,
blindfolding, and ingestion of undesirable or unwanted food.

A listing for Chi Alpha Zeta, the sorority connected to the latest
hazing arrests, on the popular college networking website Facebook.com
says the group was started in 1972 and “is still going strong today!” A
posting on the site says the members are “fun, friendly and classy!”
Beneath the posting it says this: “Classy Broads Motha F*cker.”

According to the listing, three of the students who were arrested held
high positions within the sorority.

The site lists Thomas as vice president, Sargent as treasurer and Hokans
as disciplinarian. Gomes and Ford are listed as sisters.

Hazing is a misdemeanor in New Hampshire and is punishable by a maximum
$1,000 fine.

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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