Zete Test: “As a pledge, you have no rights as a person”

55.5 is bad enough, but the redaction job merits no credit at all

Sometimes you anonymously post something online. And sometimes you don’t do such a good job at the anonymity. See: this poorly-redacted Zeta Psi pledge test that was posted multiple times to bored@baker.

Lots is worth reading; we just want to draw your attention to one wacky essay question:

During homecoming, you are playing against an alum (’12) who looks blacked out, and his partner, who is a ’17 girl, who seems creeped out by the whole situation. Based on the conversations you had with the alum while playing pong, he is extremely against the administration and claims he took down Jim Kim. The game comes down to half cup versus half cup. The alum comes up to you, says that if he wins this game, he can hook up with this girl, completing his Dartmouth X. He says if he loses, your black book will be destroyed, and he will take Zeta Psi down. The girl clearly looks uncomfortable and wants to leave, but seems too intimidated to speak out. What should you do? Explain why.

Wow! And here’s the pledge’s answer, which was pretty much the only thing he got near-full credit for:

Tell the two players to wait a bit and for your partner to watch them. Then grab an exec and tell him to come down and handle the situation. As a pledge, you have no rights as a person nor do you have authority over anything. This ’17 needs to get carded by an upper. The alum should be dealt w/ by someone who knows him. [emphasis ours]

[N.B. Eric Siu, the Dartmouth sophomore whose name is on the test, ignored a great number of emails for comment. As did Zeta Psi. But the test was explicitly mentioned in the Beta listserv that Gawker published, and all the names in the test refer to real Dartmouth students or fraternity brothers.]

Three Cornell Fraternities Suspended For ‘Serious Hazing’

Cornell announced tonight that three fraternities have been placed on suspension following “credible allegations” of hazing. According to a university press release, Chi Psi is now on suspended status for “serious hazing,” and both Sigma Nu and Delta Phi (known as Llenroc) are on interim suspension for “serious physical hazing.” The release reads:

  • As of Feb. 28 the Chi Psi fraternity has been placed on suspended status by the national headquarters of the fraternity, as a result of credible allegations of serious hazing. All chapter activities must be approved by the national organization and Cornell’s Office of Fraternities, Sororities and Independent Living before they can proceed.
  • As of Feb. 28 the Sigma Nu fraternity has been placed by Cornell and the national headquarters of the fraternity on interim suspension status, as a result of credible allegations of serious physical hazing.
  • As of March 1 the Delta Phi (Llenroc) fraternity also has been placed by Cornell on interim suspension status, as a result of credible allegations of serious physical hazing.

The Cornell administration seems to be taking the “glass is half full” approach to the suspensions, stressing how lucky they are to have students who turned in these fraternities. Always look on the bright side guys.

Click through to see the full press release: Read the rest of this entry »

Dartmouth SAE Tells Pledges to Quit Talking About All Their ‘Hazing’

It seems that some people never learn. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the Dartmouth fraternity that came to symbolize hazing last year, appears to be up to the same activities that brought them national attention. An email Tuesday from SAE’s president details a “mandatory event” for this semester’s pledges, telling them to meet at Dartmouth’s Bema — an outdoor amphitheater — with a note book, pen, and a change of “fratty clothes.” Also: “Do not draw attention to yourself.”

Secrecy is emphasized throughout the email, which even goes so far as to threaten removal from the fraternity if someone releases “house secrets.” There are allusions to former SAE brother Andrew Lohse, whose tell-all column in The Dartmouth last year detailing the house’s pledging rituals led to a feature article in Rolling Stone magazine that highlighted Dartmouth’s “hazing abuses.” As the email reads:

“This house values secrecy and we have seen how quickly things get out of control when we do not keep things in the house. You will likely lose your pledgeship if you are found to have revealed house secrets. Trust is a key component to a strong brotherhood.”

However, at some point Tuesday, information about SAE’s event was posted on Bored@Baker, an anonymous Dartmouth message board. A subsequent email from the president notes “Bored@Baker reads that hazing will occur at the BEMA tonight at 9pm.” Although he continually stresses the need for secrecy about the night’s activities, he never denies that hazing will take place. Read the rest of this entry »

After Former Pledges Acquitted, Cornell SAE Found Guilty of Hazing in George Desdunes’ Death

After ruling three former Cornell Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledges not guilty in the death of Cornell student and SAE brother George Desdunes, a Tompkins County Court judge found Cornell’s SAE chapter guilty of hazing in Desdunes’ death, The Ithaca Journal reports. While the three former pledges were acquitted, the judge used details from their trial in the decision to find SAE guilty, as the fraternity chose to “disregard or ignore the proceedings in Criminal Court.”

Details from the trial seem to describe the fraternity as … well, a fraternity. According to The Journal:

“Witnesses testified about a beer pong tournament held at 122 McGraw Place the night that Desdunes died, and described a house where alcohol was readily available to pledges and members regardless of age. In her decision, Rossiter wrote that ritual line-ups at the fraternity constituted hazing under New York law. During the weekly line-ups fraternity members subjected assembled pledges to taunts, punishments and directives.”

However, what could have been the most damning piece against the fraternity is this: “Witnesses testified that at a line-up two days before Desdunes died, fraternity members berated pledges for not conducting more of the ritualistic mock-kidnappings that were a fraternity tradition.” Unfortunately, they seemed to have listened. Read the rest of this entry »

A List of 50 Fun and Easy Ways to Reform Dartmouth’s Fraternities

On Tuesday, Dartblog’s Isaiah Berg suggested that a combination of Pale Ale and intramural Geography Bees might help reform Dartmouth’s embattled fraternities. The next day, Dartblog’s patriarch, Joseph Asch, deplored Berg’s suggestions as “marginal,” and focused on fraternities’ “absolute, corrupting social power.” (Which, since fraternities are social organizations first, sounds a lot like saying that fraternities are, in fact, absolutely corrupt, or corrupting.)

Berg’s suggestions are amusing, but they also indicate the depth of denial Dartmouth’s fraternities currently indulge in. The keg complaint alone demonstrates a victimhood complex so staggeringly inappropriate that maybe, just maybe, it’s finally time to do away with fraternities altogether.

Inspired by Berg’s “unconventional reforms,” however, we put together a list of 50 easy steps fraternities can take to, um, not really anything—but let’s say “reform”—while having fun too!

In no particular order:

  • Kombucha.
  • Mandatory trust-fall sessions at weekly meetings
  • Incorporate professors into every pledging activity.
  • Intramural yoga competitions
  • Mandatory fluency in Attic Greek
  • Movie night, but movie must be in the Criterion Collection
  • Force all fraternities to brew their own beer
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables (See #1)
  • Install energy-efficient washers and dryers
  • Mandate daily exercise. Free weights are effective.
  • Record a podcast. (You probably don’t want to publish it, though.)
  • Play Broken Social Scene at parties. Remember them? Read the rest of this entry »

Crimsonites Declare War on Harvard Greek System

Ah, Harvard University. The very mention of its name fills you with warm, fuzzy feelings of inclusiveness, openness and community. Then every so often someone comes along and ruins the spirit of things by being all exclusive about whom they’ll hang out with. This usually never happens at Harvard!

The Crimson staff noted in a recent editorial that these scoundrels currently take the form of fraternities and sororities, who apparently discriminate among students. And it laments that Harvard’s “paternalistic” drinking policies are pushing more and more students to off-campus parties thrown by these abominable Greek organizations:

Greek organizations rely not only on gender division, but also on arbitrary exclusivity. As organizations that will turn away guests because of their gender or appearance, these are hardly an appropriate solution to the perennial problem of social space on campus. Additionally, one of our greatest assets as a college is our strong campus culture, and the regular fractionation of Harvard students to off-campus venues will negatively impact campus unity.

The staff pleads with their readers to see the madness of university policies that allow these dreaded groups to plow through Harvard’s social scene and leave shambles of unity in their wake. If only all organizations could be as open and welcoming as the Crimson.  Read the rest of this entry »

Cornell Frat Presidents Plagued With Selective Memory

In today’s Cornell Sun was a letter from six fraternity presidents who urged all houses to come together and implement reforms to help save the Greek system. Which was all well and good. A kid died last spring, and some changes are in order. Nothing wrong so far.

It wasn’t all that long, though, before the writers jumped into one of those forceful — and predictable — declarations of victimhood you see every time a Greek system at any school winds up in hot water:

Most chapters are using safe practices and following all of the rules that are in the recognition policy. Unfortunately, what we do every day, every week and every semester is overshadowed by the shortcomings in judgment and leadership of a select few houses.

They go on to talk about all the philanthropy and public service they do, and how, in spite of that, they’re still unfairly villainized, or something along those lines. This is boring.

What is interesting, though: One of the letter’s cosigners, Ryan Yeh, is president of TKE, the fraternity that absorbed 16 SAE pledges after that house was kicked off campus. That being the case, remnants of one of those “select few houses” who screwed the pooch are actually, in a way, represented in this letter. Symbolism. Read the rest of this entry »

THIS JUST IN: Students Sometimes Steal Stuff at Frat Parties

Hey everybody! It’s time for another installment of “Corey Dissects a News Article From an Ivy Daily – Line-by-Line, Paragraph-by-Paragraph – And Adds Some Jokes And Stuff In Between.” (Actually, remind me to come up with a more succinct name for this.)

Anyway … today’s article comes from the Daily Pennsylvanian and is titled “Students Admit to Stealing at Fraternity Parties.” In other news: water is wet, college graduates are having a rough time finding jobs, and the Chicago Cubs are not a very good baseball team. This from the front-page story:

Traffic cones, fraternity pledge paddles, handles of Banker’s vodka and an 8-ball are among a list of things that Penn students have admitted to stealing from fraternity parties.

Theft usually occurs when fraternities or an off-campus house affiliated with a fraternity hosts a party for students. In these situations, students create a “wide open door” for theft, Vice President for the Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

Was it really necessary to put “wide open door” in quotation marks, as if it’s some little-known technical term for people walking into your fraternity house and stealing your shit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cornell President Pens NYTimes Op-Ed: “A Pledge to End Fraternity Hazing”

Cornell’s Greek community can expect some pretty radical changes in the coming weeks and months. That’s the word from President David Skorton, who took to the pages of the New York Times today to outline, in broad strokes, his plan for a hazing-free Cornell:

Yesterday, I directed student leaders of Cornell’s Greek chapters to develop a system of member recruitment and initiation that does not involve “pledging” — the performance of demeaning or dangerous acts as a condition of membership. While fraternity and sorority chapters will be invited to suggest alternatives for inducting new members, I will not approve proposals that directly or indirectly encourage hazing and other risky behavior. National fraternities and sororities should end pledging across all campuses; Cornell students can help lead the way.

The move was all but inevitable after Cornell sophomore, and SAE brother, George Desdunes died after a night of reverse-hazing, back in February. That story has (rightfully) been a persistent black mark on the university over the past half-year, as a months-long police investigation resulted in the May indictment of four SAE pledges; followed shortly thereafter by a $25-million wrongful-death lawsuit against the fraternity, filed by Desdunes’ mother. The university had already planned on overhauling regulations for Greek organizations, and it became clear almost immediately after Desdunes’ death that those efforts would be redoubled.

We’ll keep the comment to a minimum for now, except to say that Skorton’s sentiments are all well and good, but ending decades-long, institutionalized practices is a bit more difficult than telling the Grey Lady, “It shall be so.” It will be interesting to see what substance comes out of Skorton’s initiative.

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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