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By: Mark Spivey
Author of column series “Before I lay it down”

The big coming-out party known as “Probate” happened on a lot of college campuses over the past two weeks,  where the current classes of “Neophytes” (new members) got to “strut their stuff” while unveiling themselves in front of thousands of screaming college students, parents, and friends.  With auditoriums and/or gymnasiums filled to capacity, late arriving spectators could only hope for live Facebook streams or texting updates provided by their “petty” friends on the inside.   Petty people are on time.

Located strategically where they could easily be seen, dozens of sections of “Prophytes” (members of one or more years) proudly displayed banners signifying the inaugural dates of their organization’s founding.  It’s an occasion si milar to a Mardi Gras; a festive atmosphere full of pageantry and colors minus the bead-throwing and boob-flashing.

Precision foot-stomping performances and choreographed dance routines worked the crowds into a HBCU-like frenzy reminiscent of homecoming after parties.  Sweaty hugs and kisses accompanied by high-flying leapers and chest-thumping Alphas caravanned together with their new sorors and frat brothers to the delight of chapter presidents and graduate advisors.  The best part of THIS probate is knowing that no one died during the initiation process.  Not this time…

Does anyone remember the names of Kristin High and Kenitha Saafir?  Kristin was 22 and Kenitha 24 when their bodies were pulled from Docweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, California just before midnight on September 9th, 2002.  Their parents believed they were part of a hazing ceremony and forced to do calisthenics in the water when one of the girls was pulled out to sea by a high wave.  Knowing her friend could not swim, the other young lady swam out to save her and both drowned.  According to the Los Angeles Times, these young ladies had been illegally pledged and hazed for weeks.

Closer to home, 20-year old Donnie Wade, Jr. died on October 20th, 2009 after being hazed on the Hempstead High School track, in Hempstead, Texas.  Wade was a student at Prairie View A&M University at the time.  The fraternity chapter involved was suspended for 5 years afterwards for violating university rules and trying to cover up the hazing.  The family settled a lawsuit with the chapter’s national office in 2010.

Unfortunately, in both instances, these and many other cases like them could have been prevented, had the students involved obeyed the language written by the universities and Greek Organizations prohibiting involvement in pledging and hazing activities.  The directives are written and crystal clear.

What’s even more disparaging and disheartening are the chapters of these organizations that cover up the illegal activities of their own members who are hell-bent on continuing these silly practices in the name of “brotherhood” and “sisterhood”.   These “members” take delight in the beatings, paddlings, degrading, and bruising of the brain-washed individuals who believe that the only way to avoid being referred to as a “paper” member is to succumb to this punishment and embarrassment.  These are college-educated people we’re talking about.  The only way to stop it is for more people to die.  And die they will…

Black Greek Letter Organizations should do more to discontinue this type of behavior.  Plenty of it happened over the past two weekends on HBCU campuses across America.  But plenty of money has been made, also.  Membership fees into fraternities and sororities are very expensive.  Ask any parent.   Another variable into turning a blind eye to these issues are the consequences that college students risk in getting caught hazing while in school.  They could be suspended and/or expelled.  The pressure on campus advisors of these BGLOs to keep this from happening is extreme.  Who wants to be responsible for letting a parent know that “little Johnny” or “little Susie” is getting kicked out of school for participating in hazing activities when they’re almost ready to graduate?   Unfortunately, the cycle of hazing will continue.  Even death can’t stop it…

Many of us have chosen to cross the burning sands, yours truly included.  However, there are large numbers of us who chose not to participate in hazing activities, period.  My momma taught me at an early age that if someone hit me, I better hit them back. But, that’s another story.

Probate 2017 was pretty good for those who survived being hazed.  At least they lived to “enjoy” it.

God bless, goodnight, and keep yo families together.