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Hazed or Hoax? Bowie State Student Files $3 Million Lawsuit Against Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

By Christian Spencer

December is supposed to be the jolliest month of the year: school is out for the holidays, some college students have graduated, and all the students at Bowie State University are presumably with their loved ones. However, BSU student Kevin Hayes has filed a $3 million lawsuit, claiming that he is a victim of fraternity hazing.

Hayes wanted to join the Alpha Phi Alpha at Bowie State University back in fall 2013 and allegedly suffered beatings on a daily basis, according to 9NEWS NBC. He stated he was slapped, body slammed, and spanked. He released a photo to WUSA9 of his backside, revealing a purple-colored bruise from a purported beating with a paddle. Hayes’ lawsuit states that the alleged abuse took place off-campus and that his mother tried contacting the school for an explanation.     

Despite his charges, Hayes said he is currently a student at the university and is not suing Bowie State. He wants to challenge Maryland's anti-hazing policy, which states all guilty parties will spend six months in jail and pay a fine of $500.

Hayes's lawyer, Jimmy Bell, told NBC4 Washington that the penalty for college hazing should be stricter, adding that the jail time should be longer and so that people will change their behavior. Hayes said he still wants to join the fraternity at Bowie and told WUSA9 the issue is only with certain fraternity members and not the organization as a whole.

Freeman McGaw, a senior broadcast journalism major and DJ at BSU, said he knows Hayes to be a well-spoken, very expressive leader and good friend. He is also familiar with some of the members of APA, which he identifies as leaders, mentors, and hardworking students. "The fraternity members do not seclude themselves in just the members of the frat, but they're friends with many students on and off campus," said McGaw in the wake of the controversy surrounding APA's fraternity initiation.

Many people around the area and nationwide have shown both their disdain for and support of the lawsuit, either saying that Hayes is a liar, a weakling, or a snitch on social media. Some say he is motivated by money after remaining a student at Bowie State for a year after his abusive pledge. Others say that hazing is a part of Greek life. However there are some who sympathizing with him regarding his alleged beatings and they said they want an example to be set for other fraternities.