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Prosecutor charges three sorority members with hazing

Monday, May 7, 2007

Three members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority at Southeast Missouri State University students were charged Monday with assault and hazing for incidents alleged to have occurred in February.

Darletta McKennis-Weems, 23, of Cape Girardeau of 522 N. Sprigg St., Ashley Moore, 22, of Dearmont residence hall, and Jessica Reynolds of 1710 N. Sprigg St., Apt. 608, each have been charged with one count of misdemeanor hazing and one count of misdemeanor third-degree assault.

McKennis-Weems is accused of requiring a sorority pledge to eat food mixed together from a garbage can and for spoon feeding the concoction to the pledge on or about Feb. 4.

Moore is accused of striking the woman with a closed fist on or about Feb. 15 .

Reynolds is accused of spraying the pledge in the face with liquid from a spray bottle on or about Feb. 15.

Summonses were issued for the three defendants to appear in court in Jackson on June 4 before Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle voiced dismay that students continue to haze fraternity and sorority pledges.

"It is frustrating that allegations like this occur, that hazing is apparently still going on," said Swingle.

Southeast said the university has tried to educate students about the ban on hazing for years, Swingle said.

The charges stem from an investigation by campus police who were alerted to the problem by the sorority's national organization.

"No victim came forward to us," said Art Wallhausen, associate to the president at Southeast.

The national organization has suspended the sorority chapter's charter. Without a national charter, the sorority won't be considered a campus organization, said Wallhausen.

Wallhausen said the university will take disciplinary actions against the students through the campus judicial process.

The students each could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on the hazing charge, and up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine on the assault charge, Swingle said.

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A few lessons learned:

1. If you are a member of an organization and are in a position of authority, you are probably going to be aware that there are rules of conduct that you should operate within. If you are willing to put yourself at risk by abusing your "power" then you are stupid and deserve whatever punishment comes your way. I believe most Greek organizations have policies regarding hazing. "duh".

2. Don't try to become "Greek" if you can't handle to initiation process. If you feel uncomfortable with the hazing abuse, you have the right to leave at any time. You are not being held prisoner. This goes for most club/organization/brother/sisterhoods.

3. All the good deeds in the world do not outweigh one wrong. Many Greek houses are very charitable in their communities. Example: the fraternity that volunteers to work at my daughter's playday is priceless. But, the hazing of pledges continues to result in injury and embarassment for all involved.

4. Greek = Love/Hate. Greek members will tell you about the growth they experienced thru their brother/sisterhood. Others may feel the Greeks are elitists that thumb their noses at non-members on campus.

5. If you intend to join a group that has traditionally has been associated with hazing and in doing so, someone attempts a somewhat minor offense such as asking you to eat trash or sprays you in face and you willingly comply, you might be lucky enough to get what you ask for. But, to be subjected to physical or exteme emotional abuse is crossing most accepted lines established by todays society. I would like to punch a few people in the face, but to do so leaves me at risk of prosecution. "duh"

6. There is one group that that subjects their members to extreme mental/physical stress in order to bring out the best in it's members: The US Armed Forces.

-- Posted by libra7 on Fri, May 11, 2007, at 1:14 AM

I think if the punishment were harsher this might help these college kids know that this is serious. I think they should automatically be expelled. Why should we subject our children to such treatment; we send our children to Semo because we feel they will be safer than one out of State; and then find that they are not safe; People from out of state think that Cape Girardeau is a nice quiet safe town and then learn that it is not.. I am sending my son to Rolla. At least I have not heard of any hazing there. .

-- Posted by Morgan on Thu, Jun 28, 2007, at 3:16 PM

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