The Penn State Altoona fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa is under suspension after one its members committed suicide over spring break, and an internal campus investigation is looking into claims from his family that hazing contributed to the tragedy. The Altoona Mirror published an extensive report on the incident late last night.
The freshman student, Marquise Braham, jumped off the roof of the Marriott Long Island Hotel on Friday night, According to the Mirror Report. His family, while searching through his phone, noticed a picture of someone blindfolded with another person pointing a gun to his head. There were also text messages about the drug MDMA and its use within the fraternity. Braham’s family decided to go public to the Altoona Mirror after the fraternity sought legal advice instead of cooperating with Logan Township police, which is investigating the fraternity.
“I don’t want another parent to have to go through what we went through. We sent him in late August, not thinking he would come back to us and commit suicide,” his father Rich Braham told the Mirror. “It’s what happened in Altoona that sent him off the roof of the Marriott in New York…It’s clear he didn’t want to go back there.”
“Whether I get involved depends on what they turn up [in the criminal investigation],” Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio, who was informed of the investigation, said to the Mirror. “We would prosecute unless the Attorney General’s Office would get involved. It is a possibility because it’s a state university. It [the investigation]is in the early stages. I don’t know if there is anything there.”
Braham told the Mirror he met with several members of Phi Sigma Kappa the day after his death. Although he didn’t make specific claims about hazing at that point, the fraternity admitted to the hazing — according to Braham, at least.
“‘It made him a better man,’ they told me,” he said.
Campus spokeswoman Shari Routch told the Mirror that the allegations of student code of conduct violations was enough to suspend the fraternity on Wednesday, and that the campus is investigating the incident separately from the police.
“In the midst of allegations and concerns about fraternity actions, Penn State Altoona wants to express deepest sympathies to the family of Marquise Braham,” Routch said. “We’ve been holding grieving counseling for staff and students all week long.”
Some of the allegations also come from Marquise Braham’s hometown friends not involved in the fraternity, who relayed the hazing reports to his father.
“They told me the types of hazing that went on,” Braham said, adding that he was told his son was “disturbed” by the alleged hazing.
Make sure to read the Altoona Mirror for more on this story. We’ll have more as it unfolds.