University Clears Administrator Accused of Hazing
OXFORD, Pa. — A Lincoln University official accused by students of watching fraternity members haze pledges and doing nothing to stop it has been cleared of any wrongdoing by a university commission.
Interim university President James Donaldson said earlier this month that the commission told him there was “insufficient evidence” to charge Arnold Hence, the university’s vice president for enrollment planning and student life, with engaging in hazing (see Black Issues, April 29, 1999).
“Our findings were that Dr. Hence didn’t actually do any hazing at all,” says Cyrus Jones, the head of the commission and a Lincoln professor and track coach.
“That’s crazy,” says Jeff Woodard, the lawyer who initially represented the seven students accused of hazing and first brought the accusations against Hence. “Clearly, he was doing some of the same things these guys did and clearly he should have been punished.”
Questioning the objectivity of the university panel, Woodard says, “He’s been judged by those who he’s been very close with, and they have a vested interest in keeping him on.”
Hence has worked for the historically Black state-supported university since 1996. He is in charge of housing, religious activities, and all nonacademic student activities — including fraternities and sororities, and sports.
The investigation began in late April, six weeks after Alpha Phi Alpha pledge Eugene Sanders got serious internal injuries following what police described as hazing in a remote field near the campus. Because Hence is an Alpha alumnus, he recused himself from investigating that incident.
On March 8, university officials suspended seven students until spring 2001 and required that they apologized to Sanders, perform 100 hours of community service, and get counseling. The students have gone to court to appeal the suspension.
A group of students publicly accused Hence of witnessing hazing on March 21, the university’s parents’ day. The students passed out photocopied pictures of Hence with fraternity members with a message accusing the university of a cover-up. A Lincoln spokeswoman said the pictures were taken from a fraternity videotape.
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