Texas Hazing Victim Picks Up His Life at Howard U. PDF Print E-mail
Written by {{Anthony Anamelechi - Black College Wire}}   
Monday, 24 July 2006
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After the hazing incident involving Braylon Curry, Southern Methodist University suspended the Iota Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.

More than 1,300 miles removed from an almost-fatal hazing incident, a Howard University student will be forced to relive it seven more times.

Three years ago, Braylon Curry was a junior at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. On Nov. 15, 2003, the Allen, Texas, native was admitted to the hospital after a fraternity ritual called "water night," described as an Alpha Phi Alpha initiation rite in which pledges must drink an unknown amount of water if they miss the answers to fraternity trivia questions. According to SMU police Capt. Tommy Jones, the pledges were told if they didn't drink the water, they would not be admitted into the fraternity.

According to news reports, Curry, 21, spent a week in Dallas' Presbyterian Hospital. He suffered a pulmonary edema and a sodium imbalance caused by an intake of large amounts of water in his lungs. Bishop Curry, Braylon's father, said that after the incident Braylon was unable to return to school to finish his junior year.

Rather than stay in Texas, Braylon went to recuperate at the family's home in Maryland, where his father is a veterinarian, the news reports said.

Curry transferred last year to Howard University in Washington, where he majors in finance. He has been called upon to testify in Texas in each of the eight cases. During the trial, Curry said he still suffered from memory loss and concentration problems as a result of the hazing, according to news reports.

"We are just trying to let things play out in the courts," Bishop Curry said, adding that his son is doing well. Speaking about his family, he said, "We are thankful for that. I am fortunately happy to see him return as a college student." Curry has one more semester before graduation.

In the first of eight cases involving the fraternity members, Raymond Lee, a 28-year-old fitness trainer, was convicted on June 23 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Curry testified that he began feeling light-headed when drinking the water. Despite that, Curry was forced to keep drinking, until eventually he started vomiting, Josh Healy, the prosecutor in the Lee case, said. Healy will also be prosecuting the next seven cases.

Lee was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years' probation and a $10,000 fine.

"We didn't have any sentiments one way or the other," Bishop Curry said of the sentencing. "We just went by what the courts said."

Braylon is expected to testify against the final seven Alphas.

Charged are Cornelius Smith Jr., Brandon Perry, Filmon Berhe, Uchi Kalu, Onyekachi Ibekwe, Eric Bowie and Jason Harkey.

Although hazing is a misdemeanor offense in Texas, all seven are being charged with the felony of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon is water, a circumstance Healy called "pretty unique." Aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Michael Pegues, general counsel for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., said Lee would be brought before the fraternity board for a possible expulsion in accordance with the fraternity's rules on hazing. Hazing "is not apart of anything we stand for as an organization," Pegues said.

In response to this incident, Southern Methodist suspended the fraternity from campus.

Father and son both said they could not comment on the incident because the litigation is still pending.

However, after his son entered the intensive care unit in Dallas in 2003, Bishop Curry told the Battalion, the campus newspaper of Texas A&M University, that universities should look over the activities of fraternities and sororities on their campuses. Incidents like the one involving his son are easily forgotten and "there needs to be a change," he said.

He also suggested in the interview that universities directly supervise fraternity and sorority events. He said lawmakers should increase the penalty for hazing from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The date for the next hearing has not been set.

Anthony Anamelechi, a Black College Wire intern, is a student at Florida A&M University.

Posted July 25, 2006

 
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