Seven sorority members from the University of Maryland have been charged with assault for a violent hazing incident in which they choked and paddled a pledge. And their crimes may be part of a national pattern.

BlackAmericaWeb reports that the Zeta Phi Beta women face charges of assault and hazing for repeatedly choking and paddling pledge Lavisha McClarin, and pushing her against a wall. At least one of the women charged denies involvement — her lawyer says, "The idea of hazing is abhorrent to her." And Zeta Phi Beta spokesperson Stacye Montez says, "Hazing of any kind is strictly prohibited and is inconsistent with the principles of the sorority."

But as BlackAmericaWeb points out, hazing — and paddling — remain incredibly common. In 2010, a Rutgers pledge was hospitalized due to paddling injuries — at the time, a senior said, "All the fraternities and sororities use paddles here. It is really nothing new at all." And a 2007 report cited the disturbing case of a sophomore at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore who needed surgery because repeated paddling damaged his blood vessels and gave him gangrene. University and Greek system officials seem willing to pay lip service to anti-hazing policies, but it's clear that violent practices continue. And when people are getting butt gangrene, it's time to take some real action.

Update: An article in the University of Maryland Diamondback says charges against the Zeta Phi Beta members were actually dropped in June. The BlackAmericaWeb article is dated Dec. 15, but an identical version also appeared in March — we've contacted the site to see if they republished an old piece, or if they have some new information in this case.


Sorority Sisters Charged With Assault, Hazing [BlackAmericaWeb]

Image via Miguel Angel Salinas Salinas/