By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jeff Balke
"Although hazing is not a new phenomenon in black frats, and in some cases noted as early as the 1920s, the violent nature has seemed to be exacerbated," says Dr. Rodney Cohen, an assistant dean and director of Yale University's Afro-American Cultural Center. "Many have argued that the change in the 'traditional' pledge process — from the old form of aboveground to underground in the 1990s — has created a more violent form of pledging that's coupled with the pop culture of hip-hop, gangster rap and fatherless homes."
West Jr. did not encounter any overly violent hazing incidents while he was at LSU. That's why he didn't understand when his son called him one night in February 2009 and told him that he had been beaten to the point of nearly passing out.
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"He said, 'Dad, I can't do it,' and I said, 'You can't do what?' At that time, I didn't know he had pledged. I had told him, 'If you're thinking about pledging, let me know and I'm going to come down to Houston and speak with the brothers to get some understanding of the process that's going to happen,'" says West Jr. "Well, he never called me. They just called him and two other guys one night and said to meet them at this address. It took me about 45 minutes to an hour to really get out of him what had happened."
Before Lee graduated from UH in August 2010 with a bachelor's degree in accounting, he wanted to pledge a fraternity but was undecided on which one. Naturally, he gravitated towards Omega, figuring that he could benefit like his dad had 30 years earlier.
At the beginning, the thrashings seemed worth it. Giving up was an alternative, but complicated.
"I didn't want my dad to think that I was a quitter. I also didn't want to let the other guys down," says Lee, who, at one time, considered pledging Alpha Phi Alpha but went with the Omega Theta chapter of Omega Psi Phi because "they seemed like stronger black men who represented manhood."
By Omega Psi Phi standards, an applicant can only be deemed pledge-worthy during a membership selection process that includes submitting multiple essays, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts and the results of a physical exam. In West III's case, he also forked over a nonrefundable application fee of $110.
West Jr. explains that because it often takes three to four weeks for the national office to decide whether an applicant can start the official "on the line" pledge initiation, prospective members may be exposed to the rough stuff during an unofficial, underground process. According to the lawsuit, West III, along with his "line brothers" Jewett and Kyle, was subjected to human brutality.
During the phone conversation with his son, West Jr. urged him to seek medical care. Lee, who was embarrassed by the discoloration on his backside, did so the next day, which was five days after the final underground gathering. Since Dad didn't know all the details, he advised his son to tell medical personnel that he had bruised his left lower back and buttocks in a skateboarding accident. The five-foot eight-inch, 145-pound West III doesn't even skateboard.
"At the time, I was trying to protect my fraternity and my child," says West Jr. "I didn't want him to go to the hospital and say that he had been hazed and get the police involved. It was a mistake to do that because everybody just lied anyway."
According to medical records obtained by the Houston Press, emergency-room doctors at Memorial Hermann diagnosed West III with internal bleeding. A hysterical West Jr. demanded a meeting with fraternity representatives.
"I figured they'd have enough integrity to tell me, 'Let's sit down, let's remedy this and get to the bottom of why this happened,' but the fraternity never wanted to do that," he says. "They've actively turned their backs on me and my son. I gave them two and a half months to give me answers and all they gave me were excuses."
In April 2010, West Jr. filed a lawsuit in Harris County civil court "in order to rid the fraternity of its rogue members." The attorney representing the defendants, Joseph Callier of Callier & Garza, L.L.P., did not respond to the Press's interview requests.
A broomstick fractures in two as West III, Jewett and Kyle are repeatedly pounded at the private town home of Omega Psi Phi member Mordi. He's joined by fellow Q Dogs Jackson II, Oyeniyi and Stinson, who egg on the whooping.
According to court documents, this is the first of four violent hazing incidents that West III suffered through in February 2009. To prepare for the meeting, Stinson asked the three pledges to buy a family pack of Frenchy's chicken, french fries and jalapeños with their own money. West III, Jewett and Kyle were not allowed to eat. Instead, they absorbed blow after blow in the chest with a hard piece of jagged plastic, across the buttocks with a wooden board and in the stomach with closed-fist punches by Mordi, according to the suit filed by the Wests.
The problem with the Black Greek incidents is in the selection process. Instead of placing strangers on line, the fraternity and sorority members must know who they are getting involved with and their psychological state.This decreases the incidents. Another common problem are fraternity members pledging after a chapter has been " off the yard". Oftentimes, these pledgees don't have a clue because no old fraternity members are around and they pledge their pledgees based on hearsay protocol. An empty nest chapter is an accident waiting to happen.
Great quote by GoldenGirl "Any BAFOON can show up and get their a-- beaten. Any idiot, renegade greek can beat a pledge to the point of unconsciousness. But it takes a wise, learned, and REFINED prophyte to take aspirants who "want to be" and transform then into MEN and WOMEN that our founders can be proud of."
Sorority girl, my sister greek... I don't know if you are a member of my organization, and even if you are, I say this with all due respect : you sound crazy.
When I was an aspirant, my organization was the apple of my eye and there were few other things that I wanted at that time more than "to be". And as someone who wanted "to be", I was willing to what I had to do to make that happen -- but I had my limits (as EVERYONE should). I'm certain that the same can be said for most people who want to pledge a fraternity or sorority, so to boil it down to "no one forced you to to fill out an application".... come on now. You know it goes deeper than that. In filling out an application, I am confident that you never imagine being beaten with an aluminum bat.
This story is all-too-familiar and I believe that *this* is the reason that we have so many tee-shirt wearing greeks who are EAGER to set out a hop or a stroll -- oh, they are front and center at ever party or event -- but when it comes down to planning and implementing a community service event, the crickets begin cricketing.
What does being beaten to the point of near-unconsciousness prove? What part of the game is that? Had someone died during this incident, would, then, the story being different?
Any BAFOON can show up and get their a-- beaten. Any idiot, renegade greek can beat a pledge to the point of unconsciousness. But it takes a wise, learned, and REFINED prophyte to take aspirants who "want to be" and transform then into MEN and WOMEN that our founders can be proud of.
I agree Frat Boy.. I'm a sorority girl.. and it is what it is.. so you don't want to do or cant take, then leave.. nobody made you give them money or fill out and application... but why take everybody else down with you. I don't condone that at all... me and my LS's will be there for each other for LIFE because of our process. I think you can gain something from it that straight MIP does not offer. If I had do, I would do it all over again.(maybe) LOL Did I mention, the guys involved in this, WERE also involved in my process, and I love them all day long!!!
"me and my LS's will be there for each other for LIFE because of our process." That's part of the problem... the attachment to the small group is greater than the attachment to EVERY member of the organization. Whatever stupidity is accepted by the small group supersedes what is accepted by the larger organization. You don't care what will bring down the organization as long as your LS's don't go to jail, right?
I pledged, but we had our limits. What one wouldn't stand for, none of us stood for. Violence was not an option...It should never be an option. This is so hard because I do understand the desire for "discretion" but I also see this as the very thing that's going to cause our organizations to DIE. I see the phrase "God loves the Que's"...but in reality, if these sick things are going on in the name of this organization, it will fall. And God Almighty, will not uphold any of parts of it. Maybe not now, maybe in a few years, but it will destroy itself. Whether it be Omega, Alpha, Delta, Zeta, Iota, or Sigma, God will not allow such foul behavior to continue for long. Justice will be done, but we better start being men and women of integrity and stop thinking so highly ourselves (as though we are gods) where we think we are above the law and above what is fundamentally right. Brutalizing fellow college students for membership rights is wrong....its plain sick really. And the same goes for the other eight of our organizations; if we continue with this behavior, we'll only be in the history books. I feel like our hazing is only so we can be like the white frats anyway...similar to the old slave mentality that "what massa does is right". And subconsciously, maybe we try to imitate. We can find whatever reasons to justify this less than humane treatment, but remember that the slave owners of Africans just a century and a half ago justified why they brutalized and strategically tortured our ancestors...and our behavior doesn't make us any different from the white devils that enslaved, indoctrinated, and then bred us in said F'ed up state. We are fools to think that the treatment our ancestors endured for four hundred plus years doesn't play a part in why we continue violate each other in name of brotherhood and sisterhood...and we're bigger fools for letting it continue. We need to stop this madness. But I guess some people just like dysfunctional relationships...I just wish this dysfunction did not prevail among such a beautiful, creative, strong, and resilient people. Shouldn't we be above this culture of violence by now?? I'm ashamed...I'm appalled because I know there are people who look like who are NOT ashamed by this buffoonery. We need to reverse the curse.
I think the failure to understand is in your court, unfortunately. The intention for inception of the organization was A CAUSE worth fighting the world for, not fight each other for. The preparation for the fight is NEVER made by destroying each other, it's in building each other up!
In what Army, or group created to defend a nation from foreign threat, do you find similar actions? The physicality of boot camp is required because life is at risk on the battlefield, but on what battlefield (aside from the one in the classrooms and boardrooms) will these students be on?
Looks to me like they were so focused on beating you into perfect rote that they forgot to teach you the reason for the rite.
I am a member of a fraternity and an "honorary service organization" at a major Texas university. I say "am", because even though I graduated thirty years ago, those organizations and my fellow members - including my contemporaries, as well as those who went before me and those who followed me - are still very much a part of my life. In my fraternity, hazing involved personal servitude, extreme exercise, and mental "games", such as being kept awake for seven full days during our final initiation. In the other organization, the hazing was much more direct and brutal. I have never for a moment regretted my decision to submit to the initiation rites of these organizations. And it was solely my decision; no-one forced me. Shared adversity unquestionably leads to bonding. Ask anyone who's been through basic training or familiar with the training and education of warriors throughout history. This is particularly true of my fraternity experience. All of my closest friends are fraternity brothers. I've heard many "outsiders" remark at how unusually close we were and have remained into our "advancing years". It's no accident that our pledgeship (which was widely acknowledged to be the toughest on our campus, despite involving little physical violence and no forced eating, drinking, or similar shenanigans) led to the formation of unshakable and lasting bonds between all of us. That is what it was intended to do, and it worked. The comments below to the effect that this experience is not for everyone are right on. It's not; but it should be available to those who want to experience it and derive the benefits it has to offer. It will be interesting to see how the civil suit is resolved.
I'm a member of a different pan-hellenic fraternity. This situation, unfortunately, is an old, sad song. I don't necessarily condone hazing, but I also don't believe in willfully submitting to the hazing then turning around and suing the fraternity that YOU decided to try and join. Pledging is hard, it's supposed to be. Like someone below said, 'we want the 8, not the 80'. Pledging isn't for everybody either. If you go into it misguided, or with unrealistic intentions or expectations, this is what happens. One must remember that you're a man before anything. If these beatings were unbearable, he should have quit and left it at that. I don't believe the article mentioned him enduring any kind of permanent injuries. He tried it, it wasn't for him, he should have just walked away. He would have been much more respected had he taken that route. Now, unfortunately, this will follow him forever. This is the same guy that will go and try to turn around and sue his job or be the guy that nobody will want to associate with due to fear of him not having a strong sense of discretion. I believe strongly that he'll find that out the hard way once he leaves the college fantasy land. I wish him the best but unfortunately he's sort of hurt himself going forward.
Typo--Omega was not the "first of its kind at a historically black college," though it was the first FOUNDED at a historically black college.
Certain things are unnecessary, some things aren't though. Anyone who pledged will read this and not think there was excessive force.
Good luck to all parties involved. I hope there is justice for all parties.
I pledged, and I think that it was excessive. Potentially harming someone that you're one day going to refer to as "bruh" "frat" or "soror" is not why the organizations of the Divine Nine were created. I made it through some things that I thought would break me, but nothing to the point where I thought I was going to die. I was strengthed as a person through my process and my relationships with my big sisters. I've seen too many people destroyed by their processes instead of being built up by it and I think it will be the death of us. What confidence can you have in yourself if you are just letting someone beat you? Take a look at the people who are clamoring to be beaten by someone so they can do it to someone else ten times over. Is that who we want to give our history and our secrets to? Are these the people that deserve to walk around with our letters on their chest as our representitives to the world? I don't think so. And until all Greeks can understand this we will kill what we have worked so hard to maintain.
"Anyone who pledged will read this and not think there was excessive force."
And everybody else will. That's one of those little alarm bells for cultlike behavior.
"West Jr. did not encounter any overly violent hazing incidents while he was at LSU." Funny, the old school LSU bruhs tell quite a different tale - particularly those who experienced firsthand your version of what I guess you'd call "slightly" violent hazing... and you wonder why they give you the "cold shoulder". They ought to give your ass some neck! (BTW, did I miss the part where attempts by the Houston Press to contact them went unanswered?) Do yourself a favor, dust off that strategically placed Bible on the coffee table and turn to Romans 2:1-5.
Your .02 paralegal got that $16.2M UT money dancing in your head, huh? Well here's a tip you haven't learned out in your 30 years of service, Que - "we" 'aint "them", and UH 'aint UT.
rather surprised by the overall response here. thought it would of been a lot worse.
i don't think his father is showing his son his full support by continuing to pay dues to Omega Psi Phi. it's a story i know all too well.
He chose Omega!! We didn't choose him.. The son knew before he went to the information how the bruhz would be.. We fault his father. My son will know what he getting himself into before he join Omega..
It's sad to hear such a situation occur especially when the organization mentioned is a top notch organization. I would suggest that these students do an extensive amount of resource prior to being on line so that when they make their move to join the particular organization, they know what their in off. Truly sad to state these affairs.
The Omega Theta chapter at UH was not active in February 2009. They haven't been active in damn near 5 years, at least. Mr. West, if that really is you, the reason you did not know your son was pledging was because he was NOT pledging Omega Psi Phi. Even had he finished the "process" he still wouldn't be a recognized member. He was getting duped by 4 random dudes, who probably aren't active or still members of the frat anyway. Your suit is misguided. You need to be suing those 4 individuals. Not Omega Psi Phi nor a chapter that doesn't exist at this point. It is unfortunate your son got caught up in a renegade process and it is an issue the frat is always trying to clean up, as I am sure you are aware. But these acts were not done on behalf of Omega Psi Phi, nor the Omega Theta chapter because neither currently exist at the University of Houston nor did in February 2009. I wish you well in your quest for justice, I just hope justice is served to the proper parties.
GMoneyPi Delta, University of Okahoma1S98
One more:* Omega Theta - 51 University Center, Houston, TX 77004 (the one mentioned in the story)The Omega Psi Chi website still lists the chapter in its lists
With the internet one can check to see whether Omega Psi Phi has any chapters in Houston.
Houston has:* "Nu Phi" chapter at 77251* "Rho Beta Beta" chapter at 77001* "Tau Epsilon" chapter at 3100 Cleburne, 77004
The chapter actually at UH may have been disbanded, but the chapter attached to another school could say "we accept UH students too!"
Hee was pledged and hazed. I pledged pre 1990 and we had grad brother oversight. Still got wood, alot of hazing, people passing out, people dropped, public humiliation (above ground), sllepless nights, push-ups, waters, eggs and apples. As a lawyer it has helped me tremendously in my profession. Looking back...it was worth it. They just need to cut the paddling down and the hitting out. Also, these orgs are voluntary. Orgs with bad reps will shrink and the ones with good reps will grow.
That's strange you say that.Since most of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity chapters do operate off campus. This would mean that a lot of the aspects of the frat aren't governed by the school that doesn't mean that they don't advertise rush.
Also, if you do a simple facebook the parties involved it's obvious that they simply removed information to make this claim.
Chike Mordi was the first I looked up and it's clear that all the evidence that would associate him with the frat have been removed BUT when you look through tagged pictures and comments they clearly are in public doing the traditional marches, hand signs and other signifying gestures. Maybe since young Mordi is looking to legitimize a career as an Optometrist the Omega's are switching up the tune.
Looks like Mordi didn't unlike the Omega page on the Insight Vision Care fan page (Mordi's practice)
Another quick search through MY invitations to various events leads me to the address I suspect. They called it the Omega Mansion. hmmmm.
Facebook. Get's ya everytime.
I don't think I would want to be the defendant in a civil trial when evidence is presented of criminal wrongdoing not previously investigated.
The judge and every attorney in the room has a duty to report the crimes.
This so-called 'fraternity' needs to pull out the checkbook and ask for the amount needed before they have their day in count in front of a judge and jury of their peers.
alot of comments about "why I'm still paying dues and why i'm torn between the frat and my son. I'm not paying dues but i was to have excess to the Nat'l frats website. The wedsite would allow me to see who was suspended and why. Not torn between the frat and my son because i filed the suit. What i was torn about was making allegations that i wasn't sure about, because i didn't know my son was trying to pledge.
I don't get the whole "West Jr. is torn between his son and his fraternity" motif. Screw the frat. This is his kid. And why is he still paying dues?
The fraternity he loved so much turned beat his kid and turned their backs on both of them. Screw 'em.
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