Student hospitalized, family suspects hazing

A Youngstown State University student was admitted to St. Elizabeth Health Center late Wednesday night after reportedly being beaten. After several days in the intensive care unit, the circumstances behind his injuries have the university, students, his family and the YSU Greek system looking for answers.

According to a police report, ReSean Yancey, 20, was admitted to St. Elizabeth Health Center by a “lifelong friend” at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The friend left before ReSean Yancey’s mother and grandparents arrived. 

Police arrived at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday and observed that ReSean Yancey had been “assaulted and beaten by unknown subjects causing injuries, concussion and contusions all over his body,” the report stated.

The father of the person who reportedly took ReSean Yancey to the hospital was contacted by The Jambar, but had “no answers” about the events that led to ReSean Yancey’s hospitalization and was unable to contact his son at that time.

According to the police report, officers asked ReSean Yancey’s mother and grandmother about any recent suspicious activity. The two told police that ReSean Yancey was “going out late at night” and wearing extra layers of clothing because “he was hurting,” the report stated.

Officers were unable to interview ReSean Yancey due to his critical condition, but the young man’s family “indicated they feel this may be the results of a hazing,” the report stated.

“In this case, no one knows exactly, or even peripherally, what happened at this point,” Ron Cole, director of university communications, said on Friday. “But we do know with a certain amount of certainty that it did not happen on campus. And that doesn’t mean that we are not taking this any more or less seriously.”

YSU fraternity presidents are denying any allegations of hazing, which have also been denounced by the university. 

“Obviously, if this was a situation where there was any sort of hazing of any sort with any sort of fraternity on campus, or probably off campus for that matter, it’s a situation that the university is going to obviously look into and take the steps that are necessary to ensure that that kind of stuff never happens again,” Cole said.

Hazing is illegal under state law and fraternity policy. But some say that policing the Greek system is easier said than done.

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s the fault of the university,” said Demaine Kitchen, ReSean Yancey’s uncle. “You can regulate organizations, but I don’t think you can really oversee them in terms of their day-to-day activities.”

Kitchen and the university have a shared interest in ReSean Yancey’s recovery and the capture of his alleged assailants.

“Our campus police are working with the YPD,” Cole said. “Our main hope now is that the student who has been injured gets well. … Our thoughts and prayers go out to the student.”

What happened

It’s a matter of putting the pieces together as witnesses come forward, but safety is an issue for those who talk.

“I just need to make sure my son is going to be safe,” Shaunda Yancey said Friday afternoon, outside of her son’s hospital room in the intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth Health Center.

Shaunda Yancey refused any further comment, and Kitchen respects her silence and is concerned for the family’s safety.

“If there are threats,” Kitchen said he told Shaunda Yancey, “we need to know who these threats are coming from so we can get them off the streets.”

Last week marked YSU’s rush week, as hopeful pledges called “potentials” scoped out fraternities and sororities at YSU. 

No records indicated that ReSean Yancey was part of, or was rushing for, any YSU fraternity.

Interfraternity Council President Dylan Thomas knew nothing about the incident. He is vehemently against hazing and cautions the IFC fraternities to abstain from such behavior. The fraternities have a set amount of pledges they can take, and under IFC regulation, no alcohol can be consumed during rush week.

“There is no hazing, period,” Thomas said on Monday. “If it happens, they’re gone. … It’s cut and dry.”

Fraternities align

Fraternity presidents across campus reiterated Thomas’ response. Six of the nine fraternities were contacted and all refuted any such behavior.

“I’m not aware of any of it,” said Jimmy Mszanski, president of Sigma Chi. “All I know is my fraternity doesn’t haze, and we are really strict to that code.”

Along with criminal charges, Sigma Chi’s nationals would revoke their charter if any such behavior surfaced.

“We don’t take any part of that,” said Gerald Gipson, president of Omega Psi Phi. “I can’t stress it enough.” 

While all fraternities who responded denounced hazing, some were less likely to rule out the possibility of it happening at YSU.

“I don’t even know how it’s possible for the situation to come up. Now I’m not saying it hasn’t happened,” said Michael Koziorynsky, president of Alpha Phi Delta. He added that hazing is something only alumni talk about as a thing of the past. 

The cause for ReSean Yancey’s alleged assault is yet undetermined. But the student remained in the hospital over the weekend. Kitchen said his nephew is still “shaken” and “unwilling to talk.”

He said he hopes that witnesses will come forward.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “People go to college. Their parents send them off to college to get an education, not to end their lives.”

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