Desdunes’ Mother on Cornell SAE: “I Want Those Kids To Take Responsibility For Their Actions”

Marie Lourdes Andre appeared on NBC’s “Today” show this morning for a conversation with Matt Lauer about her $25 million wrongful death lawsuit against Cornell’s SAE. Andre filed suit against the fraternity earlier this week, a little more than four months after her son, George Desdunes, was found dead following a night of “reverse-hazing.” She appeared alongside two of her attorneys, and all three made it very clear that they intended to ensure that nothing like her son’s death could ever happen at SAE-Hillcrest again.

Watch the video below:

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Cornell’s SAE Has History of Alcohol-Fueled Brother “Kidnappings”

As we reported on Friday, the circumstances that led to the death of Cornell sophomore and SAE brother George Desdunes on Feb. 25 are still somewhat mysterious. The university confirmed in a press release that George was “provided alcohol while in the care of certain members and associate members” of his fraternity, and that the resulting intoxication contributed to his eventual death. Still, much about the account struck us as frustratingly (and deliberately) vague.

It does seem pretty clear that the “members” and “associate members” described in the account were brothers and pledges, respectively. But, we still weren’t certain if the drinking occurred during a pledging event; nor did we know exactly what it meant that he was “provided” the alcohol. Today, however, we have a genuine theory.

Yesterday morning, IvyGate received an email from a someone claiming to be an alumnus of the Cornell chapter of SAE. We were able to verify that this person was in fact in the fraternity, and that he graduated within the past 10 years. He told us that during his time at Cornell, SAE pledging protocol involved a custom whereby new members were “encouraged to occasionally kidnap a brother.” The basic scenario involved three-to-five pledges corralling the chosen brother, then spiriting him away to an isolated location for some form of reverse-hazing.

Said our tipster:

At that point usually the pledges would haze* the brother in some way, mostly by just getting him really drunk (usually, really drunk).  When I read that [Desdunes] was “in care of … associate members” that is what came to mind. Especially around this time: late feb to early march is when pledging has fully gotten under way and before the busier stuff starts so that’s the couple weeks when the “fun” pledging activities went on.  But considering how drunk the kidnapped brother would be when he was returned, it’s not hard to see how it could have gone too far.

(*In a later email, the alumnus said that “hazing” was meant in “at least some jovial sense” that “usually meant that the brother was at least somewhat complicit.”)

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Cornell Rescinds University Recognition of SAE After Death of Brother

The Cornell chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is no more. The University withdrew its recognition of the fraternity today — quite coincidentally the Friday before Spring Break; almost like they were trying to bury the story, huh? — and demanded that all brothers vacate the house by the end of the month, according to the Cornell Sun.  The University had previously put the frat on temporary suspension, pending the results of an internal investigation into the death of SAE brother George Desdunes on February 25. The house will be barred from operation for at least five years.

Desdunes’ death is a subject that’s dominated campus scuttlebutt this past month, though few officially confirmed details have yet come to light. Up until now, we knew that alcohol was involved, and that George’s body was found in the frat house. But, neither the university, nor investigators, nor (especially) SAE were forthcoming with regards to specifics. Now, however, Cornell is releasing a little more information:

The University found that Desdunes was provided alcohol “while in the care of certain members and associate members” of SAE and became incapacitated, [Vice President of Student and Academic Services Susan] Murphy stated.

“Even though the members and associate members recognized the condition Desdunes was in, they failed to call for medical care. He subsequently died,” she said.

We still don’t have any official confirmation about what exactly was going on that night — though rumors are aplenty. Parsing through Cornell’s statement, a few more interesting bits of information pop out. “Members and associate members” presumably means brothers and pledges, respectively; although we don’t know for certain whether there were pledging activities involved. The part about Desdunes being provided alcohol while “in the care” of others is peculiar, to say the least. And the bit about no one calling for help is incredibly sad, though unfortunately not all that remarkable. (For what it’s worth, Cornell’s Interfraternity Council passed a new “medical amnesty” resolution this week, with the hopes of avoiding that sort of inaction in the future.)

The Ithaca Police Department has been investigating the circumstances of the death in consultation with the Tompkins County District Attorney, which seems to indicate that investigators are looking into the possibility of some manner of malfeasance. However, we can’t prove that. The IPD declined to confirm the specifics of the investigation — or even that the investigation is still ongoing — and the Tompkins County DA’s office hasn’t yet responded to our inquiry for more information.

Whatever the case may be, this all still seems very opaque and suspicious. We’ll keep you posted. And if you have any information that can help us confirm what actually happened that night, hit is up at tips@ivygateblog.com.

UPDATE: After the jump, read the University’s entire statement, per Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy:

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BREAKING: VICTORY… for now; Hanover Police Delay Alcohol Crackdown

Drinks are on us: the Hanover Police just pulled a 180, agreeing to delay their fascistic frat infiltration scheme. H-Po’s flip-flop/newfound epiphany was oh-so-rationally explained by everyone’s favorite power-tripping Police Chief, Nicolas “Wiggum” Giaconne:

From the statements made in recent days, it is clear that the Greek Leadership Council and other involved student groups also share this goal and are committed to working energetically to achieve harm reduction.

We have decidedly less amicable explanations. An intense outpouring of student rage for one, strong arguments made to the popo’s bosses at the Hanover Select Board meeting, and threats of mass student residency-conversion. That is, Dartmouthians invading the town, with voting rights in hand. That would scare Michael Chiklis, let only Giaconne.

Questions remain… Is the espionage scheme dead for good, or might it make an obnoxious return? Will frats and sororities continue to ID all partygoers? What’s in this drink?

In any case, we tip our hats to you, Dartmouth. You fought the law, and you won. Hope we helped with the resistance effort, and thanks for all the tips.

Now, let’s all get wasted.

UPDATE: Dartmouthians Meet With Town Selectmen, Prepare to Hanoverize Themselves

More on the great Dartmouth alcohol crackdown front… As we write, pissed off and incredibly sober undergrads are flocking to the Hanover Municipal Building, petitioning town leaders to keep the pesky police in check, and out of their frat-houses. To plan the uprising, The GLC, Coed Council, IFC, and Panhell blitzed the entire campus, while the Class of 2013 President targeted freshmen directly. Their trump card? Have the student body register as Hanover residents, in order to apply political pressure. This little town may soon find itself taken over from within; a coup de’booze, as it were. Read both emails–and plot your very own town takeover–after the jump. The revolution will not be televised.

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UPDATE: Student Uproar Over Dartmouth Alcohol Crackdown Sweeps Interwebs

When it rains, it pours. Dartmouth better brace itself for a real, non-lame student uprising. In the few hours since the sting operation announcement, Dartmouth chat board boredatbaker.com has exploded with anti-police vitriol and mobilization schemes. Check it out: the posts are flooding in as we write. Some highlights:

like if this shit is enforced, it’s over. dartmouth social life as we know it is over.

a frat brother needs to apply to be a sting agent to infiltrate the operation, learn the rules, and see how its done

FUCK THE PO-LICE. I forsee a student uprising so big it’ll make the 7 years war look like a bar fight. And I bet Chief Nick Giaccone can barely hide his boner when talking about the proposed ‘sting operation.’ Seriously dude youre up against a bunch of drunk teenagers not the mafia.

I GOT PEANUT BUTTER ON MY DICK!!!!!!!!!

Mature dialogue indeed. Then again, lots of posters are reminding us that the traditional Dartmouth shitshow Winter Carnival is coming up. Great timing, popo.

In the meantime, the Facebook group “Students Against Hanover Police Alcohol Policy” has shot up to 655 980 1792 members (42% of the undergraduate population), and is gaining by the second. The group puts two-and-two together:

This would, in effect, close down the frats into strictly members only events, and there would cease to be open parties or even open front doors on any night of the week.

Finally, Dartmouthians internet-over are resorting to the ultimate trump card: Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone’s contact info, lovingly reproduced below.

PoliceChief@hanovernh.org, Nicholas Giaccone, Barnard Road, Grantham NH, 603 863 8375

Do with that what you will, Dartmouth, and keep checking back here for continued coverage. Thanks for the tips. We’re with you in spirit; though, for now, not “spirits.” We don’t want to end up in jail.

BREAKING: Hanover Police to Unleash “Sting Operations” in Attempt to Destroy Drinking/Fun at Dartmouth

Remember that whole drinking-age-of-21 thing we have here in the US? You know… absurd, internationally-unprecedented, and more to blame for binge drinking and drunk driving than testosterone and Grand Theft Auto put together?

Well apparently, in the wake of three poisoned freshmen at Pike, the Hanover Police do. After an intense meeting with Greek organization leaders and other concerned Dartmouthians, the fuzz has just announced that they will begin “sting operations,” as part of an ongoing campaign to stamp out illegal alcohol consumption on campus. How? Espionage. Really:

As part of the compliance checks, Hanover Police plans to send non-police operatives posing as underage individuals into Greek organizations’ physical plants during parties to see if they are able to procure alcohol, he said. Hanover Police could then use the information as cause to arrest individuals or bring further legal action against Greek organizations.

Essentially, that cutie you were trying to bed at the PhiDelt-post-renovation-party could turn out to be a glock-packing snitch; rather than buzzed and laid, you’ll end up in a 5-by-5 cell. Repercussions of the new Mission-Impossible infiltration scheme will be even harsher for the frats themselves. 100 G’s harsher:

Greek organizations can be tried as corporations, and can be charged with reckless conduct, a felony-level fine, for providing alcohol to those underage…With evidence that Greek organizations are supplying underage individuals with alcohol, the organization can be fined from $2,000 for a misdemeanor to $100,000 for a felony.

Naturally, this new police policy is incredibly stupid. Even more naturally, the Dartmouth campus is in uproar, with students, alumni, and faculty alike protesting in droves. John Alekna ’10, president of the recently immolated Phi Delt, hits the nail on the head:

This will drive drinking underground.

Alumni Joe Asch ’79 is the coolest 52-year-old we know:

How does this help kids deal with over-consumption? This will make kids hide, they’re not going to stop.

The Hanover Police playing spy novel in an errant attempt to suck all the remaining life out of Dartmouth’s campus: irresponsible and counterproductive to be sure. But unexpected? Nah. Dartmouth already leads the League in unnecessary alcohol-related arrests:

“To protect and serve,” eh?

Read on after the jump for the full text of the police email, details from the portentous meeting, and implications for the Dartmouth social scene.

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UPDATE: Freshman-Hospitalizing, Shut-Down Cornell Frat is Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike)

Tipsters, we love you. Multiple sources–some connected to members of the Cornell Interfraternity Council–have confirmed that the fraternity responsible for three alcohol-poisoned freshmen and a police/administration crackdown is Pi Kappa Alpha, known on campus as Pike. The frat, founded in 1868–and which boasts such superstar alumni as Karl Rove, Charlie Crist, Tim McGraw, and not one, but two fried chicken magnates (KFC and Chick-Fil-A founders)–has a beautifully ironic mission statement:

Pi Kappa Alpha is dedicated to developing men of integrity, intellect, and high moral character and to fostering a truly lifelong fraternal experience.

“Truly fraternal” in the most liver-damaging, stomach-pumping sense, we assume. I wonder what these freshmen’s parents think… Oh, Pike has a site for that: A Parent’s Guide to Pi Kappa Alpha.

Pi Kappa Alpha recognizes the danger hazing poses for individuals and the detrimental effect hazing inherently has on organizations. Undergraduate delegates to numerous International Conventions have repeatedly adopted legislation denouncing hazing.

How reassuring. All that legislation must make them a feel a lot better about seeing their kid on an IV drip.

Despite their “integrity, intellect, and high moral character,” these bros are in a world of trouble. Sources at Cornell tell us that Pike won’t be allowed a pledge class this year, will remain on total social probation, and could be completely disbanded if all the brothers move out.

As ambivalent as we are about Greek life, IvyGate’s coverage of the dark side of Rush will lovingly continue. Frat-boys and sorority-girls: thanks for all the material. Tipsters: a thousand thanks, and looking forward to hearing more.

Cornell Shuts Down Frat After Rushees End Up in Hospital

Turns out Greek Life rush isn’t all, fun, games and “pretty heels.” In the wee hours of the morning, IvyGate was forwarded an explosive email, sent by Eric Blair of the Cornell Interfraternity Council to all “potential fraternity members.” The Greek czar tells a twisted tale:

I am writing to provide you all with an update of events that occurred last night that resulted in a fraternity having their university recognition temporarily suspended. The suspension is in response to a recruitment event at the fraternity house that resulted in the hospitalization of three students due to alcohol poisoning.

Brotherhood, community, philanthropy, and life-threatening intoxication. Fun. But surprising? Who would have thought that a biyearly institution which corrals eager, tiny freshmen–most of whom never drank in high school, and have the alcohol tolerance of fieldmice–and subjects them to intense drinking bouts could have ill effects? And it’s not even pledge week yet. Irony:

The health and wellness of all individuals is a priority of the Greek system at all times.

Yeah, obviously. The Greek system is definitely up there with Community Health Educators and the Cornell Christian Fellowship. Nevertheless, the buzzkilling po-po and Cornell administration are coming down hard on these bros:

The Ithaca Police Department responded to the event as well and are currently investigating along with Cornell University Police.  This incident is being taken very seriously and will likely have repercussions that effect the entire system.  At this time the fraternity has been instructed to desist from all activities including recruitment.

Boom goes the dynamite. As of now, the identity of the tragic shuttered frat remains a mystery–all-knowing commenters and tipsters, make us wise.

And freshmen, be careful out there. PSA: you don’t have to subject yourself to all-male alcoholic bro-hazing and three years of being someone’s bitch in order to make friends at college. The allure of the Greek system is understandable; it often does a world of good. But when young’uns are being wheeled into the ICU, young women are mercilessly objectifying each other, and frats are coming under the hard fist of the law, it might be a good time to realign priorities.

Read the full Cornell Interfraternity Council email after the jump.

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