Members of the Sigma Alpha Kappa fraternity of Ferrum College are off to a rough start to their summers.
In the wake of a student death after a recent fraternity party, Ferrum College has brought individual punishments against all members of Sigma Alpha Kappa, the chapter’s vice president said last week.
Those penalties include up to $1,000 in fines per person, 100 hours of community service for each man, and a seven-year ban from the campus for some, according to an email issued by the school.
The sanctions came the month after an April 17 incident, when 20-year-old Michael Anthony Walker of Cumberland County was found unconscious at an off-campus Sigma Alpha Kappa party. Walker was hospitalized in critical condition and was pronounced dead eight days later.
A search warrant filed in Franklin County after Walker’s death said witnesses claimed the freshman, a newly inducted pledge, had been drinking during the day and night of April 16.
Last week, six of the fraternity’s 14 members were indicted in Franklin County on one misdemeanor count of hazing each. Two face an additional charge of providing alcohol to someone younger than 21.
Sigma Alpha Kappa is a non-nationally recognized local fraternity, which had 14 members at the time of the party, 6 of which were directly indicted. The kid who died was a recently inducted pledge, so it sounds like Initiation Day festivities gone way out of hand.
The university disbanded the chapter and brought sanctions against every member of the fraternity, including those who were not at the party. It’s worth noting that even the victim’s mother thinks that’s a little unfair.
“I don’t know that all of them should be charged” by the school, said Walker’s mother, Melissa French. “I don’t think Michael would want that.”
Deion Pressley, the fraternity’s vice president, said he was sanctioned even though he was not at the party that night. He said he graduated from Ferrum on May 7 and was not informed of the potential punishments against him until the following week.
“My account was closed. I had everything paid off…and my mom got a letter yesterday saying I owe a thousand dollars,” said Pressley, 22, a criminal justice major from Greensboro, N.C., who is preparing to apply to law schools. “They’re saying they’re going to hold my transcripts,” said Pressley, who has said he was in North Carolina the night of the party.
In an email dated May 26, Ferrum’s assistant director of residence life, Joseph Fridley, told Pressley he is banned from Ferrum College until May 2023, and he warned Pressley that trespassing charges would be filed if he’s found on school property without prior approval. The email also informs Pressley of the $1,000 fine placed against his student account and orders him to complete 100 hours of community service before Aug. 26, along with requirements that include weekly emailed reports to Fridley regarding those activities as well as a written personal reflection.
Current students aren’t even banned from the campus, only those that have graduated. Rightfully, Pressley is suing Ferrum to remove these ridiculous sanctions. State law in Virginia says that universities are supposed to discipline students upon “satisfactory proof of guilt”. However, Ferrum’s student handbook says college officials there have the ability to do whatever they want with their own Campus Judicial Process “regardless of any court of law”. They have the audacity to call such proceedings “an educational experience” and forbid students from bringing a lawyer.
I’m a stern believer in justice and consequences, but they should apply to the morons who gave that poor pledge one too many vodka pulls. There is no cause for punishing guiltless members of the fraternity just by association. The article goes on to say that someone involved in the actual incident texted a picture of the victim unconscious to a bunch of people, so pretty fucked up all around.
As a man of medicine, I will say this over and over again: if you’re going to drink someone to unconsciousness, don’t. But if it happens, set a watcher, make sure they don’t choke on their puke and check their goddamn pulse.
This bullshit is becoming too common these days..
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