12/09/2013 04:29 pm ET

Student's Hazing Story Sheds Light On Northwestern's 'Broken' Disciplinary System

Sean Lavery’s face was red with blood. His cheeks and forehead were bruised. A plastic tube ran through his battered nostrils. It was May 19, 2012, and Lavery was in the emergency room with a busted nose, fractured in four places. Two weeks later, he returned for a surgery that totaled thousands of dollars. Overall, he spent about 20 hours at the hospital, according to a written account he gave to the University and, later, The Daily.

The Medill senior doesn’t like to dwell on the details of that night, simply referring to the situation as “an incident of hazing.” But the documents and photos he shared tell a grislier story: After months of pledging Phi Delta Theta and vocalizing his concerns about certain forced activities, Lavery was told to report to the fourth floor of the fraternity house. There, he found a stranger. A brother told Lavery he had to fight the man. Lavery was slammed to the ground. He blacked out. His shirt ripped. His face was smashed.

Lavery did not tell hospital officials what had left him so beaten. He didn’t tell the University until January 2013, when official after official redirected him, before his complaint was forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct. The case remains unresolved, though Lavery has been told that nearly a year after he reported the incident, he should expect a ruling sometime soon.

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