Hyattsville

Md. Senator Wants to Strengthen Hazing Law After Bowie State Student’s Allegations

A state senator says he wants to strengthen Maryland's hazing law, following a Bowie State University student's recent lawsuit alleging hazing by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

The $3 million lawsuit was filed Monday in Prince George's County Circuit Court by Kevin Hayes, who alleges he was beaten, body-slammed, spanked with a wooden paddle on a daily basis between September 2013 and December 2013 and instructed not to tell anyone.

"[They said] it makes you stronger," Hayes said. "They said, 'If you tell, you're a snitch.'"

Under Maryland's anti-hazing law, those convicted can be jailed for up to six months and face a $500 fine.

"That's the cost of a few kegs over a long weekend for some of these frats ... we want the fine to be $5,000," Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin said.

Raskin has tried to strengthen the law in the past, but his bill didn't make it out of committee. He plans to submit the bill next year and would like Hayes to testify about what happened to him. 

"We should not wait for someone to get killed to act," Raskin said.

Scott Roberts studies the culture of hazing at universities at the University of Maryland's Psychology Department.

"We're subconsciously motivated to justify the kind of experience we endure," he said. "The worse the hazing, the more motivated we are to like the group and like the process, and believe that it's important."

Alpha Phi Alpha has placed Bowie State's chapter on suspension. They released the following statement late Monday evening: "Any member found violating the fraternity anti-hazing policy will be immediately suspended with recommendation for expulsion. In addition, the fraternity will cooperate with law enforcement to ensure that any person violating the law will be brought to justice." 

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else after me because it's unnecessary," Hayes said.

Bowie State officials are not commenting on the allegations since the school is not named in the lawsuit, but they released a statement they have "a stringent anti-hazing policy that is coupled with a strong anti-hazing education program. The university considers hazing to be indefensible and contrary to the interest of the university community."

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