WARNER ROBINS — Citing flawed membership intake processes at chapters across the country, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity incorporated has put a halt to new membership processes nationwide.
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The ruling, announced to active members in a letter from the fraternity’s General President Herman “Skip” Mason Jr., comes nearly a month after a member of the student chapter at Fort Valley State University was charged with aggravated battery against a new member. Mason said the decision to halt intake was due to “the failure of some of our members to behave honorably and with care.”
Here’s an excerpt from the letter Mason sent out explaining the decision:
“Following my review of 2009, it became clear to me that one area that needs our immediate focus is the conduct of brothers involved in the intake process. Our current process was designed with the assumption that our members would conduct themselves honorably and with care. Regretfully, in several instances, that has not occurred. The failure of some of our members to behave honorably and with care has exposed the fraternity again to unprecedented risks of loss. Our organization should not, and will not, await the occurrence of a catastrophic loss before it acts to rein in those who engage in risky behavior, behavior that at times they illegally associate with our intake process and the fraternity in general. I believe Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. must not conduct a new cycle of membership intake until it can correct and eliminate the problem of some brothers violating our strict rules against hazing. This means that ALL MEMBERSHIP INTAKE ACTIVITIES SHALL BE AND ARE HEREBY SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Any member, chapter or officer found in violation of this membership-intake suspension order will be disciplined up to and including expulsion from the fraternity.
The fraternity’s suspension of membership intake comes after decades of hazing-related controversies plaguing Black Greek Letter Organizations despite their staunch anti-hazing/anti-pledging policies. A few examples:
- In 2002, two young women looking to join Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority drowned in the Pacific Ocean during pledging activities. The chapter in question, at Cal State-Los Angeles, had been suspended since 2000 due to “minor pledging infractions.”
- In 2001, the Ohio State chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was suspended for hazing, and followed in 2007 by the chapter at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater which was suspended for 5 years after pledges were injured seriously enough to require medical attention.
- In 2009, members of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity plead “no contest” to beating one of their pledges.
- Also in 2009, parents of a senior at Prairie View A&M University filed a lawsuit saying that the Phi Beta Sigma chapter there had hazed their son–including paddling him, forcing him to complete rigorous exercises, and placing him on a bread and water diet–resulting in his death.
Sound off in the comments about Black fraternities and sororities, pledging, and Alpha Phi Alpha’s decision to suspend membership intake. We want to know what you think!