Marcus Jones, then a sophomore at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, was beaten mercilessly by five ”big brothers” with bundles of canes and boxing gloves over four days as part of a Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity hazing. The Miami Herald says that Jones suffered a ruptured eardrum and injuries to his buttocks area severe enough to require surgery. This week, five fraternity brothers are on trial in Tallahassee in the first case under Florida’s new anti-hazing law, passed last year. Named the Chad Meredith Act in honor of a University of Miami student who drowned in a hazing incident five years ago, the law takes a mighty swipe at age-old fraternity and sorority hazing rites of passage.
Under the law, hazing that results in serious injury or death is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, even if the victim consents. In the case going to trial, police charge that 26 pledges were taken to an abandoned warehouse, where they were blindfolded, taunted, slapped, paddled with wooden canes, and jabbed with boxing gloves. After the incident, those accused were suspended from school, including two who were due to graduate in the spring. ”The truth is, hazing crosses social, racial and class lines. You get good kids who simply enter this world and they leave behind their values, judgment and ability to think,” says Susan Lipkins, a New York child psychologist and author of Preventing Hazing.