A student with a severe nut allergy “could have been killed” after another undergraduate smeared peanut butter across his face while he slept as part of an alleged hazing ritual.
Andrew Seely, a 19-year-old Central Michigan University student, was forced to seek medical attention for serious facial swelling after the incident in October 2016.
Classmate Dale Merza, a member of off-campus fraternity Alpha Chi Rho, has now been charged with misdemeanour hazing over the alleged attack and faces up to 93 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
Seely’s mother Teresa told the Detroit Free Press: “Our family is devastated. We thought we were sending our child off to school in a safe environment, and obviously that wasn’t the case.
“He could have died from this. He has a deadly peanut allergy.”
The National Fraternity of Alpha Chi Rho also condemned the attack and said there had not been a chapter of the frat at Central Michigan University since 2011 when the group was sanctioned for hazing.
“Prior to this incident, when we learned that a small group of individuals had been improperly operating under our name, we promptly sent a letter to these men to stop all activity or representation of our fraternity,” the group said in a statement.
“There were no members, no colonization plan, or any other recruitment efforts at the time of this incident other than an exploratory effort by the National fraternity to create a colony in the future.”
Since the incident, accounting student Seely has transferred to another university.
But 20-year-old Merza claims he is innocent. His lawyer Bruce Leach told the Free Press: “This case has been blown way out of proportion by the individual’s family members, who were not present and don’t have any of the facts.”