Philanthropic Organizational Life, University of Arizona

The new member class of Delta Sigma Phi had been placed into two groups of 14 at the Delta Sigma Phi off-campus residence and were locked in a room where each room was given a large quantity of vodka and a bucket of water and were told to drink until everything was gone. At least one new member reportedly consumed to the point of passing out and lost control of his bodily functions. This same member had been to the hospital twice that same week (not known if related to Delta Sigma Phi).

More details:

Members of the chapter took the new members and separated them into two groups and placed each into a room. Each group was given a handle of vodka, a bucket of water, and an empty bucket to be used for “puking”. Each room was given 15 minutes to finish everything (all alcohol). This activity was explained as a team builder, so the new members were also expected to share facts about themselves in between drinking.

Active members including the new member educator were in the room to monitor and would count down the time (15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, etc.). Halfway through the time, members were rotated out of their room to get to know the other group. At least two new members passed out during this activity, including one who lost control of his bodily functions. This new member was placed into a bed. Multiple people vomited into the empty buckets. At the end of the 15 minutes, both rooms were allowed to return back to the party.

Will, Will, Why hast thou forsaken me?

Will Ferrell has argued that fraternities should be banned altogether.

Now that we’re paying attention to fraternities as a system, and not as occasional freak show newspaper articles…

… it was inevitable that organized body counts begin to appear. Here’s one. With a nice photo.

Veritas et Phobias

I’m old enough to remember a time when college students objected to providing a platform to certain speakers because they were deemed politically unacceptable. Now students worry whether acts of speech or pieces of writing may put them in emotional peril… [W]hile keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled.

Penn State Students Facebooked Photographs of Themselves Raping a Statue of a Coach in a Fraternity Shower Stall?

I think. Something like that. There’s too much stuff going on there to keep track of…

After all, there’s almost always a venture capitalist, with fond memories of hazing and being hazed, willing to make up the difference.

We would propose that the IRS begin sending letters to all Greek organizations putting them on notice that if they discriminate, their tax-exempt status will be revoked. They can retain their tax exemption if they demonstrate that they do not discriminate based on race. This provides Greek organizations with a choice. If they are willing to comply with the norms of society, then they can enjoy the benefit of their tax exemption. If they do not wish to conform, they can explicitly signal that desire by forgoing the public subsidy implicit in being exempt from taxation.

… [W]e should also leverage the universities’ tax exemptions. The time is long past for universities to condone — or, at best, turn a blind eye to — this type of behavior. If a university wants to ignore the discriminatory behavior, then it should also be required to clearly signal where it stands.

Not a problem for the frats. Just keep the system intact: The ME BIG BOY thing graduates American capitalism’s most successful predators. They can easily make up for the loss of the tax exemption.

As for the universities: A place for everything, and everything in its place. The absence of the tax exemption will reveal which universities the country’s corporate elite will want to consider.

No pain no gain

[Salisbury University] suspended the chapter in response to a [hazing] lawsuit. In retaliation for the suspension, J. Michael Scarborough, a founder of the school’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter and an investment giant, withdrew a donation of $2 million. Because the school took a hard line against torturing students. (The fraternity is up for review and a possible return to campus this fall.)

“[T]he culture must legitimate its own existence, forcing out those who fail to conform.”

Just the thing you want dominating the social life of universities.

And he didn’t even get to drunk and violent.

“Weinberg senior Jazz Stephens, who also helped organize the event, said she is concerned about a lack of campus response to the article.”

Northwestern University students outraged by the opinions of NU professor Laura Kipnis (she doesn’t think highly restrictive codes prohibiting professor/student sexual affairs are a good idea), now note the lack of response on campus to an article of hers stating her views. She is helping to destroy the “safe culture of healthy sexuality” on campus, and the university – its community, and its leaders – should join this group of students and condemn Kipnis with “resounding opprobrium.” The students themselves – thirty of them – have so far organized a protest march.

For a number of reasons, UD is not surprised by the lack of response. I’ll start with the big stuff.

People in this country – especially (despite what conservatives will tell you) people at universities – are heavily invested in the principle of free speech. Free and fulsome and even over the top speech — all okay. All fine. So in order to produce the symphonic campus vilification they’re after, the protesting students are going to have to overcome the instinct many people have to defend the right of people to produce even what to some people seems obviously offensive speech. The more intemperate their letter gets, the more the student writers make some readers suspect they want to shut down free speech.

It’s possible that a lot of people agree with Kipnis’ basic position (they might not express it as lightly as she does). They might find more plausible her dark take on sexuality (“Other people’s sexuality is often just weird and creepy. Sex is leaky and anxiety-ridden…”) than the letter writers’ “safe culture of healthy sexuality.”

Finally, the student letter is so intemperate in its attack (Kipnis “spits in the face” of anyone who’s ever been sexually assaulted) and so insistent on punishing Kipnis that it begins to generate sympathy for her.

Do You THINK UD wants to notice what Gorky calls…

… the lower depths? Do you THINK she wants to read about, much less write about, the lurid sub-basements of the American university?

Well yes okay. She does rather enjoy it.

And yet for years now, on this blog, she has noticed that she’ll do almost anything to avoid writing about fraternities.

Imagine you’re starting out as a reporter at a local paper, and you’re told that your first assignment will be a multi-part series on the systematic abuse of dogs at puppy mills. That’s the sort of excitement with which I go to details of stories about those brick colonials set aside on the American campus for the purpose of concentrating young men willing to drink themselves to death so that someone will like them. Cover this rape, UD! Cover that sadistic haze! UD: Learn the folkways of lads who ladle gin… anally!

Louis-Ferdinand Céline captured the inside of many fraternities better than any other writer:

It so happened that just to one side of my bench there was a big hole in the sidewalk, something like the Métro at home. That hole seemed propitious, so vast, with a stairway all of pink marble inside it. I’d seen quite a few people from the street disappear into it and come out again. It was in that underground vault that they answered the call of nature. I caught on right away. The hall where the business was done was likewise of marble. A kind of swimming pool, but drained of all its water, a fetid swimming pool, filled only with filtered, moribund light, which fell on the forms of unbuttoned men surrounded by their smells, red in the face from the effect of expelling their stinking feces with barbarous noises in front of everybody.

Men among men, all free and easy, they laughed and joked and cheered one another on, it made me think of a football game. The first thing you did when you got there was to take off your jacket, as if in preparation for strenuous exercise. This was a rite and shirtsleeves were the uniform.

In that state of undress, belching and worse, gesticulating like lunatics, they settled down in the fecal grotto. The new arrivals were assailed with a thousand revolting jokes while descending the stairs from the street, but they all seemed delighted.

The morose aloofness of the men on the street above was equated only by the air of liberation and rejoicing that came over them at the prospect of emptying their bowels in tumultuous company.

The splotched and spotted doors to the cabins hung loose, wrenched from their hinges. Some customers went from one cell to another for a little chat, those waiting for an empty seat smoked heavy cigars and slapped the backs of the obstinately toiling occupants, who sat there straining with their heads between their hands. Some groaned like wounded men or women in labor. The constipated were threatened with ingenious tortures.

When a gush of water announced a vacancy, the clamor around the free compartment redoubled, and as often as not a coin would be tossed for its possession. No sooner read, newspapers, though as thick as pillows, were dismembered by the horde of rectal toilers. The smoke made it hard to distinguish faces, and the smells deterred me from going too close.

Now imagine a second pink marble staircase that takes you even lower than this.

You are now in SAE, the only fraternity with two mentions on this list. The fact that a chapter of SAE is currently dominating domestic news because its members do racist chants (to the tune of the only song they’ve all been able to learn: If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands) is kind of weird if you ask ol’ UD. This sort of thing is way mild for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Instablogging Kipnis.

Hokay, everyone’s talking about the Laura Kipnis essay attacking zero-tolerance faculty/student sexual relations rules at universities, and UD – like Kipnis, a veteran of such affairs – I mean, UD has never had an affair with one of her students… But she long long long ago had affairs with a couple of her professorsUD figures she’ll follow along as Kipnis makes her case and is then megabombed because of having made it.

She adopts what she calls a “slightly mocking tone,” which seems to UD fine, since sex and sexual passion and love are both fraught and hilarious subjects. Kipnis recalls her hippie days when rebellion, experimentation, transgression, whatever, were things a lot of people did. Was there a price to be paid? Yeah, maybe, sometimes, but it

fell under the category of life experience. It’s not that I didn’t make my share of mistakes, or act stupidly and inchoately, but it was embarrassing, not traumatizing.

So far so good. She and I are (echoing Oscar Wilde) on the same page. She points out that the new paradigm casts students in the role of weak vulnerable victims (“According to [her university’s] the code, students are putty in the hands of all-powerful professors.”), whereas the reality of this sort of interaction is in most cases far more complex.

This observation also seems to me (based on my own experience, and the experience of others I’ve known) quite true. Those implementing the new no-go zone codes are absurdly “optimistic,” argues Kipnis, that they can police complex desire.

[W]ill any set of regulations ever prevent affective misunderstandings and erotic crossed signals, compounded by power differentials, compounded further by subjective levels of vulnerability?

Kipnis also says the obvious:

Let no one think I’m soft on harassment.

But:

I also believe that the myths and fantasies about power perpetuated in these new codes are leaving our students disabled when it comes to the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life, because that’s simply part of the human condition.

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It’s a long piece and she repeats herself a lot, but she’s a fun writer. This, at the end of the piece, got a rise out of me:

[I]f colleges and universities around the country were in any way serious about policies to prevent sexual assaults, the path is obvious: Don’t ban teacher-student romance, ban fraternities.

(She doesn’t add that the situation is now so bad that more and more universities are in effect banning fraternities. That is, they’re banning this fraternity and that fraternity; they’re telling this fraternity it can’t come back to campus for three years, and that one that it can’t come back for five years… The litigation cost to the national chapters of the most notorious fraternities is getting intolerable, just as the wretched publicity for places like Dartmouth is getting intolerable… So fraternities are shutting down, but very, very slowly.)

Anyway, so here’s UD‘s thing. There’s an inescapable intensity, for some people on some campuses, to the professor/student relationship. This intensity tends to have in it elements of Pygmalion, Oedipus, Electra, blahblahblah. Less mythically, it may sometimes simply and unsurprisingly have to do with finding a person who admires and shares your intellectual, aesthetic, and moral, passions, and falling in love with that person. I say unsurprisingly because where, other than the Yale archeology department and a few other rarified locations, do you expect to find a fellow very specifically passionate archeologist? UD sincerely hopes that soulmates who meet in this way continue to follow their hearts.

“Mr. Emwazi, 27, grew up in West London and graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming.”

UD thanks an anonymous reader for noticing that the University of Westminster has more than Rev. Female Genital Mutilation to be proud of! The biggest boldest beheadingest believer out there graduated from none other than Westminster University.

Mr. Emwazi, I’m calling from the Westminster University development office…

Sorry? Let me just put this knife down…

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The timing [of the Rev. FGM] could not be worse for Westminster University, after it was [revealed] that infamous … terrorist killer Jihadi John is a computer studies graduate.” The reverend will share some of his favorite clit-slitting techniques at the university tomorrow. Be there or be sexually intact!

Necks, clitorises – When it comes to the slicing of the body, Westminster University is the go-to place. Maybe it should open a medical school.

UD thanks a reader for sending her this news bulletin on the Vanderbilt rapes.

Guilty on all counts.

A very postmodern trial. People have been raping women for a long time, but today some juries can watch the rape, because the postmodern rapists record it.

Of course the guys on trial had every right to do whatever they could to try to stay out of jail, but UD would like to say for the record that it was probably a bad idea for one of them to walk into court brandishing an American flag lapel pin, and for the other one to talk about having no memory of the event while preparing to go to church the next morning. It was probably a bad idea for their defense lawyers to blame events on Vanderbilt University, which turns out to be so utterly dissolute a location that anyone there – even patriotic, churchgoing lads – would rape an unconscious woman. It was probably a bad idea for their defense to rig up a doctor to claim that the alcohol did it, not the football player.

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I know. When you’ve got a recording of the rape, there aren’t any good ideas. Point taken.

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Oh. As you gear up for the trial of the two other former Vanderbilt football players accused of raping this woman, don’t forget: Their coach now coaches at Penn State.

You cannot make this shit up.

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From one of the jurors:

He said the “defense did an incredible job, they were essentially given unwinnable cases and turned it essentially into the longest, hardest-fought legal battle.” He said he did not believe Batey’s testimony that Batey did not remember anything because he was drunk.

“I think Cory Batey’s testimony probably did more harm than good… His intoxication defense came a little bit late and was pretty lackluster when he got on the stand. He had clearly been coached… “

One of Australia’s worst takes hostage one of Australia’s best.

She has now escaped.

[Elly Chen is an] “absolute high achiever” who had graduated from the University of [New South Wales] less than a month ago with a bachelor of commerce, actuarial science and finance.

She was a prefect in high school where she studied advanced English, Latin and physics and finished with a high ATAR of 99.25. “She is a lovely girl. She was both swimming and tennis captain at the school and now she’s an actuary,” [a friend] said.

Ms Chen, who is fluent in Cantonese as well as English, and also studied Japanese, spent the year as an environmental leader at the university’s Stationery Reuse Centre, where she organised “events to further promote environmental sustainability on campus”…

They’ve certainly got a way with words at Delta Gamma.

A sorority at the university where Mr UD teaches – the University of Maryland – boasts a number of … interesting … women of letters.

Last year, there was the “cunt-punt” dust-up.

This year, there’s the hearty Happy Birthday wishes on the “fun, alcohol-themed cake.”

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