by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Scholarship in Action
The Bakersfield Police Department has confirmed that four men were arrested in a hazing incident involving students at California State University. As of Saturday, police were investigating an alleged felonious assault involving members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
The report was initiated after a 25-year old man was admitted to the hospital as a result of the incident. The investigation found that between March 28 and April 25, four students were assaulted on multiple occasions. The assaults included beatings and being shot at close range with a BB gun.
The members of the fraternity involved in the alleged incident are not officially sanctioned by the university. They do, however, recruit students from the CSUB campus through a club they’ve established.
Ryan Nichols and Deandre Horn, both 22-years old, were arrested in the alleged incident. They are being charged with assault with a deadly weapon, torture and conspiracy. Darlington Agu, 24, and Ricky Joy Jr., 20, are being charged with hazing and conspiracy. Another student, 22-year old Philemon Norris, is wanted and police are searching for him.
As a person who’s taught on college campuses for the last 18 years, I’d like to lay out some quick thoughts for contemplation as a result of this incident. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen on multiple campuses on which I’ve taught (U. Kentucky, Indiana University, The Ohio State University and now Syracuse) and it honestly leaves me fuming:
1) What in the hell are we thinking? College is a venue for higher learning, not a place where you should deliberately ruin your life by becoming obsessed with Greek culture. I’ve seen students delay their graduation by several years because they’ve become entrenched in a life full of ridiculous and dangerous behavior. I know far too many brothers who are alcoholics years later after taking their first drink with their frat brothers on a college campus. College is a place to learn, not a place to destroy, distract and humiliate yourself and your family. If any of my kids were to get arrested after being involved in something like this, they’d just have to stay in jail.
2) Be leaders, not followers. In many cases, hazing incidents occur because there are group members who are afraid to speak up against stupidity. So, rather than back away from irresponsible behavior when it happens, some students choose to become complicit. What young people have to realize is that one bad mistake in one night can send your entire future up in smoke. These men are now at risk of going through life with felonies on their record, all because they were trying to “fit in with their boys.” Perhaps it’s time to grow up.
3) One can’t condemn Greek life altogether, for there are many favorable outcomes that result from black Greek letter organizations. But all too often, Greek affiliations are taken far too seriously, leading to violence, sexual irresponsibility, horrible academic performance and other poor decisions that can serve to jeopardize your ability to get an education. Perhaps it’s time to call a spade a spade and take a stand against this kind of behavior on our campuses. We must help our kids understand that college is a place to grow, not the ultimate party spot. Yes, I said it: There’s nothing wrong with studying on the weekends – Indian and Asian students do it and their academic performance is off the charts. Perhaps we should set our standards a little higher and stop congratulating Pookie for the fact that he didn’t drop out of college. We need to demand that our young men and women be the best that they can be. Being an outstanding student doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun; but there is something called “balance” which serves as one of the fundamental keys to success.
I feel bad for these young men, for some of them were too young to realize the significance of their mistake. But we should blame ourselves when this kind of thing goes down, because many of us are afraid to speak up and make it clear to our kids that there’s no room for nonsensical involvement in activities that can undermine your chance to succeed. Again, this is not indictment against Greek culture in its entirety, but you can’t pretend like you never saw any of this silly stuff while you were in college. Come on people, let’s put it to an end.