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SMU Pledge in Coma After Suspected Hazing

November 17, 2003

DALLAS (AP) _ A Southern Methodist University student fell into a coma after ingesting a large amount of water in what school officials suspect was a fraternity hazing incident.

Braylon Curry, a junior pledge at Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas early Saturday and fell into a coma. He remained in critical condition Monday morning.

Doctors told law officers he is suffering from pulmonary edema, a condition where water enters the lungs, and hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance brought on by excess fluid consumption.

Curry, 21, spent Friday night engaged in what appeared to be a water-drinking competition at an off-campus apartment, SMU officials said.

Some of Curry’s friends, who accompanied him to the hospital, told police the activity was not hazing, said Paul Morris, spokesman for the Dallas Police Department.

The fraternity was suspended pending a police investigation, said Jim Caswell, SMU vice president for student affairs. If the investigation proves the activity was hazing, he said, it is ``very likely″ the suspension will be permanent.

``We want those men to know they must cease and desist everything they’re doing,″ he said.

An educational anti-hazing event was held on campus Friday before the incident and SMU had published a half-page advertisement of Texas’ hazing law in the campus newspaper that day, said Caswell. The ads are printed once a semester, he said.

Hazing is defined as a potentially harmful activity someone must participate in to get into an organization, officials said.

``We’re very clear, very vocal about our hazing policy. It’s state law,″ Caswell said. ``For any student here, you’ve got to think, ’How could they miss this?‴

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