SMU expels frat members
Students find ruling unfair in panel discussion
Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
The SMU Judicial Board decided Friday to uphold a Jan. 29 ruling that four students affiliated with the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity be expelled immediately from the university.
Senior Cornelius Smith and juniors Brandon Perry-Russell, Ekbert Parker and Byron Sanders were involved in a fraternity-related hazing incident that left junior business major Braylon Curry hospitalized after suffering from water intoxication in November at an off-campus apartment.
The students faced an appellate board of the University Judicial Council for hazing and assault in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Following the board's decision, the students appealed the ruling, but President R. Gerald Turner upheld the decision. The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has also been permanently suspended from the university.
"It was a long, difficult, fair process," Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Caswell said.
Some students disagree with Caswell and questioned the fairness of the case during a panel discussion hosted by The Association of Black Students on Monday.
The panel was a part of the association's regularly scheduled meeting. Panelists included Caswell, Dean of Student Life Dee Sisco and Carol Webber of Legal Affairs.
Concerned students took the opportunity to question the administration's actions taken in the case.
Business major Alicia Hills asked the panelists if the hearings could possibly be fair when members of the board are part of the SMU community and were exposed to the media's coverage of the incident.
"Folks must vow that they will be objective, fair when they sign up for the judicial committee," Webber said.
Junior Carl Dorvil asked why the students were tried at the hearing together.
"Each individual has their own separate hearing, but it's [put] together in one big hearing," Sisco said. To defend themselves at hearings, students can bring their own documents and witnesses and can represent themselves, panelists said.
Students also questioned why the media was allowed on campus when Smith and Perry-Russell were arrested in December.
Caswell said the university had no prior knowledge that the media was going to be on campus.
Webber agreed and said, "We know that SMU did not have any advanced warning."
Turner called the district attorney and police department and both said they didn't know why the media was there, Caswell said.
Caswell told students that the process for this case was over and if students want to change the process they should talk with the student government to make changes for the future.
"I think the process was followed same as it was outlined in the handbook," Sisco said.
Dallas police have charged Perry-Russell and Smith with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — a class two felony offense. Although Parker and Sanders were present when the incident occurred, they do not face criminal charges. Arrest warrants have been issued for eight of the 12 individuals involved in the incident.