The University of Florida’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has been suspended and is currently under investigation for hazing by campus police.
According to the University of Florida spokeswoman, the fraternity was suspended after a student suffered severe injuries over the weekend from what investigators believe was hazing.
The UF Vice President of Student Affairs claims an investigation started as soon as hazing allegations were brought to light.
The off-campus organization is currently suspended from holding meetings or operating as an organization until police conclude their investigation.
University of Florida Police has not said how many students may have been involved in the alleged hazing events. Investigators believe that the so-called hazing took place between January 9 and February 4. They were apparently alerted to the situation Saturday.
According to police, they are looking into incidents that may have taken place on and off campus.
UF President Bernie Machen sent an e-mail to all students Tuesday warning them that hazing is prohibited by UF regulations, and is also classified as a crime in Florida.
This recent incident at UF happened just three months after a Florida A&M University drum major died as a result of an alleged hazing ritual.
Hazing was established as a crime in Florida in 2005 after a University of Miami student drowned as a result of fraternity hazing. Under the Chad Meredith Act, Florida’s broad definition of hazing refers to conduct in which students are inducted, affiliated or initiated into an organization which uses careless or premeditated methods that threaten the physical or mental safety of another person. Common hazing rituals can include:
• Forced Alcohol Consumption
• Extreme Weather Exposure
• Forced Food or Beverage Consumption
• Forced Isolation
• Extended Periods of Sleep Deprivation
With increased media attention being placed on this type of crime, an increased amount of universities and students are finding themselves in the hot seat for hazing. The penalties for hazing in Florida can range from expulsion from school all the way up to felony charges. It is important to understand that a person accused of hazing can be with additional offenses that comprised the hazing offense. Felony charges of aggravated battery can be charged when suspected hazing results in great bodily harm. Likewise, if a person dies from alleged hazing events, murder may be charged.
It is best to not waste any time before contacting a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney after an accusation has been made regarding hazing. It is extremely important to seek the advice of legal counsel before making any statements to school officials or police. These crimes are not simple cases, and without the proper legal guidance the outcome can be devastating. At Whittel & Melton, our attorneys understand that while the penalties for hazing are severe, a criminal record can be even more detrimental to your future. We will thoroughly examine every detail of your case in order to achieve the most positive outcome for your unique situation.