Authorities are investigating a Central Michigan University hazing incident in which a member of an off-campus fraternity smeared peanut butter on the face of a student with a peanut allergy while he was passed out, according to the victim's mother and the university.
“He could have been killed,” Teresa Seely, the mother of now-former-CMU student Andrew Seely, wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.
The incident happened in October, but Teresa Seely said her son kept the matter to himself until telling family Tuesday night. Now, she said she wants parents and others to know about what happened to her 19-year-old son, who completed one semester at the Mount Pleasant, Mich., school about 150 miles northwest of Detroit before transferring because of the incident.
She declined to identify the new school to protect her son from potential retaliation.
“Our family is devastated,” Teresa Seely told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday afternoon. “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.”
University spokeswoman Heather Smith said school officials are investigating the incident, but campus police have no jurisdiction because the fraternity where it is alleged to have happened, Alpha Chi Rho, is located in a house off campus. Mount Pleasant Police said that they have yet to receive a report on the incident.
Smith said the university is investigating for potential violations of the student code of conduct, violations of which carry penalties including suspensions and permanent dismissal in serious cases.
The fraternity was banned from official recognition for hazing incidents in 2011, and Smith said the university and its interfraternity council denied the fraternity's bids for reinstatement as late as last fall.
“We’re trying to learn more,” Smith said. “We take these types of matters seriously, and it will be pursued very thoroughly.”
Representatives of the national Alpha Chi Rho fraternity couldn’t be reached for comment.
Teresa Seely said her son, a 2016 graduate of Marysville High School in Marysville, Mich., south of Port Huron and about 50 miles northeast of Detroit, began attending Central Michigan in the fall, studying accounting. She said it wasn’t clear why Andrew Seely didn’t notify family when the incident happened, but she said it may have been out of a fear of alienating friends.
Teresa Seely said her son was treated at a campus health clinic but is “lucky to be alive” because of the severity of his allergy.