The mother of Jordan Hankins, who killed herself in January 2017 in her dorm room, has filed a lawsuit against Alpha Kappa Alpha, claiming that the alleged hazing contributed to her daughter’s depression.
According to the lawsuit, Hankins, who played basketball at Northwestern University, had to endure “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” during post-initiation pledging.
Felicia Hankins’ lawyer, Brandon Vaughn, released a statement on the family’s behalf:
“Jordan Hankins was at the prime of her life and seeking to join an organization she believed was dedicated to sisterhood and personal and professional development. 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.”
The lawsuit added that Jordan told members of the sorority that the hazing was triggering her PTSD and that she was experiencing severe depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts because of it.
When it was founded in 1909, the sorority prohibited hazing. It repeated its opposition to hazing in 1999, but hasn’t addressed the issue, which the lawsuit refers to as a “well-known occurrence.”
While Northwestern University wasn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit, a school spokesperson said that the sorority has been and continues to be suspended from the university.
“Northwestern remains deeply saddened by the death of Jordan Hankins two years ago, and we continue to send our kindest thoughts and condolences to her friends and family.”