Mom Suing AKA Sorority, Inc. Over Daughter's Suicide Following Hazing
Jordan Hankins committed suicide in 2017.
A grieving mother believes hazing led to her daughter’s death.
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Jordan Hankins hanged herself in her dorm room at Northwestern University in January 2017, according to NBC Chicago. The biological science major was a basketball player and member of the National Honors Society. Felicia Hankins, Jordan’s mother, believes her daughter’s promising life was cut short by the overzealous hazing of Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters. Felicia filed a lawsuit against the historically Black sorority on Tuesday.
Jordan attended a rush event in October 2016 and was subsequently invited to join the sorority. After she completed her intake process, she performed at a probate about a month later. A probate, also known as a neophyte presentation, is used to introduce new members of Black Greek organizations to their college campus. The lawsuit alleges the abuse started following the event.
The 20-year-old was informed she had to “agree to a post-initiation pledge process" to maintain her membership. Court documents say Jordan “was subjected to physical abuse including paddling, verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial exploitation, sleep deprivation, items being thrown and dumped on her and other forms of hazing intended to humiliate and demean her."
Jordan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. She told her sorority sisters the hazing was causing her mental health to decline, but nothing changed, according to attorney Brandon E. Vaughn.
"Jordan Hankins was in the prime of her life and seeking to join an organization she believed was dedicated to sisterhood and personal and professional development," Vaughn said in a statement.
"Instead, as a condition of her membership, it is alleged she was subjected to severe physical and mental abuse by members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Despite repeated warnings that the hazing was triggering Hankins' anxiety and depression, we allege that AKA failed to take action to stop the abuse, resulting in Hankins taking her own life."
Northwestern, which is not named in the lawsuit, expressed its condolences but refused to comment on the litigation.
"The sorority involved has been and continues to be suspended from the University," said a Northwestern spokesperson. The sorority was suspended from campus in May 2017 and will not be reinstated until the fall semester.
AKA released a statement to The Daily Northwestern saying officials were “deeply saddened” by Jordan’s death but will not comment on the lawsuit because of the situation’s “sensitive nature” and “the ongoing grief her family is experiencing.”
The sorority also said rising suicide rates among college students are “alarming,” and it is “imperative” schools have “appropriately staffed mental health centers.”
The amount of damages sought is unknown.
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