Mother of Northwestern basketball player sues sorority for wrongful death in daughter’s suicide

EVANSTON, Ill. — The mother of a Northwestern University basketball player filed a lawsuit against a sorority at the university for wrongful death in her daughter’s suicide.

Felicia Hankins, the mother of Jordan Hankins, filed the suit Tuesday and claimed that Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority hazed her daughter which caused her severe anxiety and depression which led to her suicide in 2017.

The 50-page complaint listed AKA and 11 other defendants. The complaint claimed that Hankins was subjected to mental, physical and verbal abuse as well as financial exploitation and sleep deprivation. It also claimed that during her pledging process, Hankins was subjected to paddling and items being thrown and dumped on her, and other forms of hazing which the complaint said was intended to “humiliate and demean her.”

The complaint said Hankins tried to communicate to members of the sorority that the hazing was triggering her PTSD, causing anxiety and depression and that she was having suicidal thoughts. Hankins hanged herself in her dorm room on Jan. 9, 2017, according to the complaint.

The hazing allegedly occurred in late 2016, and according to the Daily Northwestern, AKA has been suspended from the university from May 2017 until Fall 2019. The director of Greek life at Northwestern told the paper the sorority was under full suspension, meaning they were not authorized to recruit or hold events.

An attorney for Hankins’ mother issued the following statement:

Every year, tragedy strikes as a result of fraternity and sorority hazing rituals. The complaint alleges, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and specifically the Gamma Chi chapter at Northwestern University, have a history of hazing allegations by women within the sorority and those seeking to join.

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.

It is critical that we hold the sorority and the individuals who were personally involved accountable – and to eliminate these dangerous and deadly rituals before another tragedy occurs.

AKA did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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