Former student allegedly hazed by "underground fraternity"
A Central Michigan University sophomore is facing charges of hazing resulting in a physical injury to a former student in October.
Dale Merza, a 20-year-old student from Rochester Hills, turned himself in to the Isabella County Trial Courthouse on Friday after police issued a warrant for his arrest, according to a press release from the Mount Pleasant Police Department.
Merza is suspected of smearing peanut butter on the face of a highly-allergic student, Andrew Seely, during a hazing ritual for an unaffiliated Alpha Chi Rho fraternity in October, according to the release.
Police began investigating the incident on March 3, after Seely’s mother posted about the incident to social media. The report was finished and turned over to the Isabella County Prosecutor on March 31.
Lt. Jeff Browne of the Mount Pleasant Police Department said the timing of the investigation, which began right before Spring Break, was not ideal. Conducting the investigation six months after the incident occurred added to the difficulty.
"The investigation went as well as it could," Browne said. "This is a priority incident because of the allegations and we made sure this was a thorough investigation where we interviewed as many people as we could."
This isn't the first time the now-defunct organization's members have taken part in hazing.
In 2011, the university became aware of hazing activities by Alpha Chi Rho that had taken place during the fall 2010 semester, according to Tom Idema, director of student conduct. These hazing activities included forced consumption of alcohol, verbal abuse and physical challenges.
The national office for the fraternity also became unaffiliated with Alpha Chi Rho at that time, said Damon Brown, director of student activities and involvement.
As a result of hazing activity, Alpha Chi Rho was suspended until the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester. At that time Alpha Chi Rho had the option of petitioning and beginning the recolonization process, Idema said. Alpha Chi Rho contacted the university and to begin the process. Due to the number of other groups who were already in the process, Alpha Chi Rho was told they would have to wait until the fall of 2016.
During the fall of 2016 Alpha Chi Rho’s request to return to CMU was denied by both the Office of Student Activities and Involvement and by the Inter Fraternity Council.
"There were some concerns (we had) about drinking and partying at their house, which really brings a negative light onto the community," Brown said.
Members were still adamant about wanting to officially be recognized again, so he group presented in front of IFC, and the council also voted to not let the fraternity back on campus.
Brown said his office became aware of a social media post in January saying the organization planned on coming back to CMU unofficially.
"The Facebook post we saw was that the national office was bringing them back regardless of what IFC and CMU said," Brown said. "That was disappointing as an institution to hear, because you never want to have underground organizations on your campus — it’s just not good for students.”
Brown said CMU was "very concerned" by this and reached out to the national office but never heard anything from them until after the hazing incident.
The national office of Alpha Chi Rho released a statement incident March 3, saying they are “appalled and upset by the actions taken by individuals against Andrew Seely.”