Monday, March 19, 2007

Fraternity Banned for 15 Years for Hazing

OSU suspends fraternity for 15 years

STILLWATER OK -
An Oklahoma State fraternity has been suspended by the school for at least 15 years after six of its members were accused of beating a pledge with wooden paddles. The university announced the suspension Wednesday, the same day as the Alpha Phi Alpha chapter was suspended by its national office for five years.

"We wanted to come up with something we felt would send a strong message that this is not something we are going to allow," OSU spokesman Gary Shutt said.

One pledge was beaten so hard that muscle tissue was exposed.

Corrion Quentrelle Cox, 22; Lyall Storandt, 22; Jason Donel Taylor, 22; Mitchel McCowan, 21; Michael Dexter Combs, 20; and Joshua David Goree, 23, were each charged Monday with hazing, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days in the county jail.

Hazing was banned in Oklahoma in 1990.Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said allegations involved a group of five pledges, but he chose to prosecute the six on behalf of one pledge whose injuries were most severe.

Associated Press
March 15, 2007


Attorney says OSU overreacted to hazing incident
By RICHARD GREEN, Associated Press Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY --
An attorney for one of six Oklahoma State University fraternity members accused of paddling a pledge so hard that muscle tissue was exposed said the university has overreacted to the incident by suspending the organization for 15 years.

"I'm not condoning any bad behavior, but at the same time we have a system in America that is supposed to be based on a level of fairness," Ronald "Skip" Kelly, who represents Corrion Quentrelle Cox, said Friday.

Cox, 22, and five other fraternity members were charged in Payne County District Court on Monday with hazing, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days in the county jail. Hazing was banned in Oklahoma in 1990.

On Wednesday, the national office of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity suspended the group for five years, while the university decided on a suspension three times as long.

"We just felt with the magnitude of what happened that we needed to send a strong message to this fraternity and all of our Greek homes that this is something that would not be tolerated," university spokesman Gary Shutt said.

Kelly, a former member of Alpha Phi Alpha, questioned the extent of the injuries that led to the criminal charges and said the fraternity has been unfairly criticized.

"These kids have been branded as the worst of the worst," he said. "It's been made to look like this is the worst thing that's ever happened.

"How could a fraternity get banned for 15 years for one mistake?

"In January 2006, a University of Oklahoma student was shot and killed at an Alpha Phi Alpha off-campus party in Stillwater. Those arrested in connection with the shooting were not members of the fraternity and were not university students.

Kelly said that even though the fraternity was victimized in this attack, the violence has been used to unfairly malign the group. He questioned whether the fact that the fraternity is a predominantly black organization has factored into some of the criticism it has received.

Police have said they've been called to break up fights at some of the events put on by the Alpha Phi Alpha.

Shutt said the 15-year suspension was based on the hazing incident, not past situations.

Five university pledges were allegedly subjected to hazing at meetings between Jan. 23 and Feb. 11. Prosecutors filed charges in connection with the one pledge who was most seriously hurt.

Shutt said the injuries this pledge suffered were serious enough for the young man to seek medical attention. Police have said muscle tissue was exposed on one of his buttocks.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this was a serious injury," Shutt said. "Police have investigated this. There is a lot of evidence, photographs. This was a very severe beating that this student received.

"In addition to Cox, the other defendants are Lyall Storandt, 22; Jason Donel Taylor, 22; Mitchel McCowan, 21; Michael Dexter Combs, 20; and Joshua David Goree, 23.