Student Death Shifts Focus to Black Fraternities
The death of a University of Oklahoma fraternity member at a Stillwater party has brought scrutiny of the safety measures of predominantly Black Greek-lettered organizations.
That’s unfortunate and unfair, said Alpha Phi Alpha alums who said members are not prone to violence but do many good things for their communities.
Paul Shanor of Carrollton, Texas, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha’s OU chapter, died Jan. 15 after he was shot at a Holiday Inn in Stillwater. Three others were injured.
Two men arrested in the crime were not students of any university or fraternity members, police said.
The tragedy reflects violence in society, but not Alpha Phi Alpha, said Jonathan Easter, an OU graduate from Oklahoma City.
“This is a random occurrence that happens around the country very frequently at many different venues other than Black fraternities,” Easter said.
Oklahoma State University is temporarily banning campus parties hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha and other Pan-Hellenic groups. It is the second such ban in 18 months.
The moratorium should not last long while administrators study ways to make events safer, Oklahoma State University spokesman Gary Shutt said.
“We are talking with the African-American groups about the best way to handle on-campus events, as well as beefed-up guidelines for off-campus events,” Shutt said.
Stillwater police Lt. Mike Metcalf said there have been problems with fraternity members in previous incidents. Some fights involved athletes, and guns have been confiscated.
On Nov. 18, 2004, OSU administrators banned Alpha Phi Alpha and seven other Black fraternities and sororities from having dances in the student union after Stillwater police found a gun Oct. 2 on a man involved in one of many fights at an Alpha Phi Alpha dance. The man was not a student.
Charles Christopher, an alumnus of OU’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter, said the fraternity could lose potential pledges who don’t want to be associated with a negative image.
“It’s so amazing with all the great contributions our young people make to the community that a bad apple can ruin the party,” said Christopher, who lives in the Dallas area.
No violence took place at a Jan. 14 dance at the OSU Student Union, which was followed by the after-party at the hotel. That party was not university-sanctioned but was invitation only.
Members were trying to bar access to some people when one man began shooting randomly into the hotel suite. Karras Mitchell Harrison of Oklahoma City has been charged with murder, and another man, Louis Jerome Jones of Oklahoma City, is charged as an accessory.
— Associated Press
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