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Victim Speaks Out Against Hazing

Jasmine Vega can still barely tell her story, even nearly a year later. The Sacred Heart University student said last fall that a group of sorority sisters put her through rough hazing. On Tuesday, Jasmine, her parents, friends and local leaders gathered across the street from the main campus, asking Sacred Heart to take a tougher stance against hazing.

"I just want [Jasmine] to get justice," said Jacqueline Rossy-Vega, her mother. Jasmine began to speak but broke down in tears before she could thank her supporters for coming.

On Oct. 3, 2009, members of the sorority she was pledging, Delta Phi Kappa, kidnapped Jasmine and forced her to do military-style drills in a darkened basement. Over the following weeks, she said she received many threatening text messages from sorority members and was chased while walking on Park Avenue with her parents. In November, she also suffered a panic attack upon finding a sorority member in her apartment.

Sacred Heart suspended 11 girls from non-class activities while it investigated. According to SHU Communications Director Funda Alp, the Bridgeport Police did not press criminal charges against the women, but Delta Phi Kappa was eliminated from campus.

"Sacred Heart University has a clear policy against hazing and does not tolerate this type of activity on or off campus," Alp said in a statement. "Every reasonable measure of support was available and provided to her."

But Jacqueline accused SHU of trying to cover up the incident and protect the girls involved. She also said Sacred Heart officials told her she would be arrested if she went on campus. "I was afraid to go to the school, unless I got escorted," Jacqueline said.

The Vegas rallied Tuesday in the parking lot of North Park Baptist Church. Along with the family, friends from two motorcycle groups in Hartford came to support Jasmine. State legislators and community leaders from Connecticut and New York came as well, speaking for tougher anti-hazing laws.

"We will do whatever we need to do to get [Jasmine] justice," said Angel Arce, a community activist from Hartford. "The laws have to be changed."

Jasmine walked with her classmates at May's commencement but does not have her degree in criminal justice. Fearing for her safety, she commuted from the Bronx, N.Y., the semester after the incident, then took the rest of her classes online. She is finishing one class and expects to complete her degree in December.

On Oct. 2, the Vegas will march in Washington to raise awareness and push for a federal law that would cut funding to schools that allow hazing to continue.

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