Few American Universities Have a History as Sordid as San Diego State.

The place has been, for decades, a perfect shitstorm. You name what’s wrong with American universities, and it’s super-wrong with SDSU. Overpaid presidents? SDSU’s last non-interim president was so greedy an outraged state legislature and outraged citizens forced the SDSU trustees to make some changes. Bankrupting themselves through sports? An earlier president seems to have spent his entire term throwing all of the school’s money at a football team that played to empty stadiums. Homicidal fraternities?

Ah. Homicidal fraternities. Ever since an arsenal of big guns and a cache of big drugs were discovered at its frats (six were involved in a 2008 conspiracy so extensive and professional as to draw the involvement of the DEA) SDSU has held the distinction of being the site of one of our nation’s largest college drug busts. The conspiracy began to fall apart with the death of a student from a cocaine overdose…

… Which might explain why yesterday, in the wake of another frat-related death – he was a wee freshman who’d just gotten there – SDSU has done something less homicidal schools don’t do after each of their after all pretty routine frat drinking deaths: It has suspended fourteen fraternities.

I mean, fraternities being what they are, a bunch of them at SDSU were already being, er, scrutinized for the distant possibility that something untoward might be happening at them… But now! I mean, if you’re going to start killing nineteen year olds weeks after we’ve taken them from their parents and invited them to come here and study I mean, really!


UPDATE: Suspension: It’s in the air! Washington State University – another ridiculous sports-obsessed school – has also decided that their frats are getting a little much.

“Universities don’t get much worse than San Diego State, an epicenter of the drug trade, a money-hemorraghing sports joke, and a school run (though considering what goes down there, is anyone actually running it?) by a president whose greed so outraged the local community that legislators moved toward imposing mandatory salary caps on executive pay there.”

If I may quote myself. San Diego State gives off the same hopeless pointless stew of corruption vibes that University of Louisville does – and what’s most interesting is that these schools probably always will be like this. Whether it’s Piero Anversa or a fraternity just taken off suspension and just put back on suspension for being irremediably violent, nothing gets done because the people in charge are cynical greedy party-school-modelers.

You know – recall what the West Virginia University professor who studies the phenom up close — really up close — wrote:

Many residential universities, such as the so-called party schools … have become so well-known for their super-charged party environments that it would be very difficult to change the culture without negatively impacting enrollments that are now dependent upon the lure of this party scene. Moreover, many of the disruptive behaviors that I document in the book (e.g., burning couches, riots) have become “traditions” for both current students and alumni. As such, traditions are very difficult to change.


[People who live in bad neighborhoods] feel terrorized, they change their routines to avoid certain streets, they don’t leave their homes at night. In many college towns, residents are beginning to experience similar problems (albeit less life-threatening) as a result of a minority of extreme partiers who make life uninhabitable [I think Weiss is conflating two phrases here: life unendurable and neighborhoods uninhabitable.] for their neighbors.


While it is easy to see why bar and club owners are reluctant to eliminate drink specials or other promotions – after all, they make their profits from student drinking – it is more difficult to understand why university administrators, police and local town officials have not been more effective in reducing some of the problems caused by the party subculture. In the long run, it really boils down to a rather controversial reality: the party school is itself a business, and alcohol is part of the business model. Schools lure students to attend their schools with the promise of sports, other leisure activities and overall fun. Part of this fun, whether schools like it or not, is drinking. Thus, even as university officials want to keep students safe, they also need to keep their consumers happy. This means letting the alcohol industry do what it does best – sell liquor.

That’s why SDSU keeps suspending and suspending and suspending a criminal enterprise: You’re talking about a big chunk of their yearly enrollment!

Let’s just not have any bullshit about it, okay? Administrators get millions and students get maimed. End of story that will never end.

Don’t you think it’s time for San Diego State University to take this page down?

It trumpets the gloriousness of Piero Anversa, dumped in disgrace from Harvard for fraudulent research, to which he reportedly admitted; and then, to round out the contemptible behavior, he went ahead and sued Harvard anyway for having damaged his career by, um, having discovered and acted on his lab having – at huge federal government expense, by the way – committed research fraud. (His case against Harvard was dismissed.)

Harvard has to repay the government ten million dollars because of Anversa.

Apparently people in various labs at Harvard knew for over ten years about the guy. Maybe SDSU’s web editors are on the same schedule.

‘On Friday, a Take Back the Night anti-rape march by about 35 people from the Concerned Students and Take Back the Night groups was met by egg-throwing, sex toy-waving members of two fraternities …[T]he next night, a woman was reported to have been sexually assaulted at a fraternity house. San Diego State University police confirmed there was a sexual assault report but declined to identify the fraternity involved.’

Universities don’t get much worse than San Diego State, an epicenter of the drug trade, a money-hemorraghing sports joke, and a school run (though considering what goes down there, is anyone actually running it?) by a president whose greed so outraged the local community that legislators moved toward imposing mandatory salary caps on executive pay there.

And now, with the eyes of America on the issue of rape on campus, SDSU’s fraternities, apparently looking for something to do since an unusually big drug raid two years ago shut down their main activity, have decided that their contribution to the crisis will be assaulting women and pitching dildos.

Where are you, President Hirshman? The local suckers pay you almost half a million dollars to do something. But what is that thing?

Drugs and violence. Violence and drugs. If you take away your students’ drugs, they turn to violence. (“[S]even students have reported being raped at SDSU this year, one about 24 hours after a protest last Friday night against sexism and sexual violence.”) For some of your students, those are apparently the only two behavioral options.

UD says, Maybe it would be safer to give them back the drugs.

“[Wayne State University] alleges that [Professor Robert] Mentzer has devoted more time to [San Diego State University] while investing minimal hours in WSU students, in spite of a $279,370 salary. He also lives in Virginia. [WSU President M. Roy] Wilson said Mentzer hasn’t been to WSU more than 10 times in the past year.”

UD‘s getting whiplash trying to follow this one. It’s incredibly postmodern.

But I’m sure the courts will sort it out.


Meanwhile, though, and purely for comparison purposes:

Jonathan Hart.

Jacko and Sainfort.

Texas Christian: The New San Diego State

Serious, big-time, cartel-type drug business is pretty rare on American campuses, but as San Diego State (a school with many and varied scandals over the years – sports, drugs, presidents with, er, money issues) showed back in 2008, with its guns and brass knuckles and cocaine and all, it does happen.

I suppose it’s marginally more embarrassing when your school has the word Christian, rather than State, in its name, but no matter: Texas Christian University, as its chancellor notes, is, just like SDSU, simply going to have to tough things out until they settle down.

And speaking of tough, the TCU football team is gonna have to be Ram tough. The coach did a surprise drug test “after a prize recruit told him that he would not attend TCU because of drug use by players.”

TCU has not released results of any drug tests, but [one player] told an undercover officer that 82 players failed.

Far out!

‘At my university, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion offered three workshops… : one “for faculty of color,” another “for women of color” and a third “for white allies.” … [C]riticism forced them to back down.’

LOLOLOL. And the university is San Diego State! Feast your eyes! For years, it has consistently been one of the shittiest, drugs-guns-frats-and-jocks-choked scandals in America.

One of the more notorious drug raids in this country took place at SDSU’s well-armed Theta Chi fraternity. One of UD‘s colleagues left her university to last barely six years as SDSU’s president, his unflagging personal greed an insult to students, faculty, alumni, and of course the state legislature.

It’s such a bad school. UD‘s so not surprised it hired people to add segregation to its stupidities and misdeeds.

‘Unrelated to the weapons confiscation, Phi Delta Theta was informed Tuesday afternoon that it was permanently suspended… All members of the fraternity were asked to vacate the house immediately.’

Nothing against your AR-15 or anything… We love frats here at Wash U and have just loved hosting you… And – haha – nothing to do with the whole Parkland thing… But… uh… could you leave?


And oh honey.

My lord what a morning.

If American universities actually start checking their fraternities for guns! It’ll be San Diego State all over again, baby! (Hm. Not really “all over again.” Guess it never really stopped.). Drug distribution networks around the country will be bereft, and no one will be able to figure out how to haze.

Fraternities are one of America’s very best places to hide weapons and drugs cuz you know – bright clean-cut lads preparing for the next charity carwash… Last place you’d look for AR-15s…

‘Who can point to the principle of brotherhood that forced alcohol consumption fulfills? Is it constructive to have associate members poison themselves under the guise of a “bonding experience which will make them closer in the end?” Alcohol is not the only thing that should be withdrawn from the pledge process – paddling, humiliation and servitude come to mind…’

UD applauds Daniel Muehring, a Southern Methodist University student, for posing the crucial question about pledgicide.

What’s the principle of brotherhood behind torturing, humiliating, and killing your brother?

I think the answer to the question is implicit in Muehring’s mistaken use of the term “constructive.” He assumes that the pledgicidal motive is constructive, when of course it is destructive. This is the reason Andrew Lohse correctly identifies ritual behavior in many fraternities with “a biker gang.” Both cults like to hurt themselves (body scarring, alcoholism, reckless driving, gun-play, fights) and to hurt others; both constitute a brotherhood of mutually voyeuristic sadism. For both, women represent fuckable or non-fuckable scags. In time, both typically drift toward organized crime (several frats over the last few years, with San Diego State’s frat system the standout, have been found to be running high-level, heavily-armed, drug distribution businesses).

Hyper-masculine, hyper-ritualized, sadistic, homicidal, secretive, criminal subcultures are unfortunately common in America; what’s shockingly uncommon is their placement and certification in universities.

UD thinks we should spend less time agonizing about the motives and deep meanings of fraternities and more time asking the following question: Why do American universities allow tribes of undergraduates to reduce the universities themselves to the status of pledges, to whipped and whimpering bodies?

“It’s extremely obvious that the drug culture is within the frat culture and thriving. It gave you a group of people bound together by brotherhood to hide drugs.”

UD has long pointed out on this blog – illustrating the point with several cases from particular universities – that nothing beats a college fraternity for major drug distribution. It’s not only the strong secretive bonds of brotherhood, which is of course your basic Mafia thing. It’s also the pathetic fact of very young stupid people desperate for acceptance into a particular brotherhood. Dealing is part of their hazing, their testing, their proof of allegiance and obedience.

And it’s the symbolic value of colleges and universities. The seemingly wholesome aspect of the student scene gives the dealing fantastic cover.

[The College of] Charleston [is] on a growing list of college communities with fraternity-linked drug operations: In 2010, New York police in “Operation Ivy League” busted a ring operating from Columbia University fraternities that dealt cocaine and LSD painted onto Altoid mints and SweetTarts. In 2008, police in California arrested 96 young men in “Operation Sudden Fall,” in which undercover officers infiltrated seven fraternities at San Diego State. Last year, a Florida International University nursing student died of an overdose of cocaine and alcohol after an off-campus fraternity [party]. Police found text messages from members of Phi Gamma Delta bragging about coke dealing, including one that said: “We practically supply (FIU).”

At the University of South Carolina, three-quarters of the school’s chapters — 18 in all — have been closed or put on probation in the past three years for drug, hazing and alcohol violations…

Major weaponry appears in frat house drug distribution settings. People get killed.

Teams as Gangs

Fraternities create drug distribution gangs; the Wharton School creates insider trader gangs. University athletic teams create rape-gangs and theft-gangs. At the very highest levels, your team of trustees creates international news.

Campuses are places where you connect with people like yourself – people who have similar strong interests and ambitions. Of course in most cases those ambitions aren’t criminal. But if they are, the isolated secret-brotherhood hothouse intensity of certain campus groups, the general public’s romanticization of college and graduate students as inquiring innocents, and the often rabid winner-take-all ideology of some of these associations (the athletes’ cafeteria at the University of Oregon has EAT YOUR ENEMIES in big illuminated letters on the wall), will make it temptingly easy to criminalize your association, if that’s what you’d like to do.

Not everyone on your wrestling team – to take the latest example, from the University of Minnesota – will want to take part in your Xanax distribution conspiracy. But the beauty of things like wrestling teams is that, once inducted into the brotherhood, it’s unlikely even non-participants will squeal.

My point is that when you’ve already got an organized team, you make much easier the transition to organized crime. There’s a lot of disorganized drug selling and buying at colleges, but it’s always going to be small time, and it’s going to be vulnerable to detection (see Wesleyan University). Fraternity drug rings only seem to get infiltrated after they’ve had a chance to grow enormously, as at San Diego State. The Minnesota gang seems to have had a chance to grow similarly huge — it handles spectacular quantities of Xanax.

UD thanks two readers
for telling her about
the Gophers and the Xanax.

“More than a few frats have figured out that they’re supremely – UD would even say unbeatably – well-situated as far as the drug trade goes.”

If I may quote myself. It’s not just the notorious cases, like Cal Poly and San Diego State. More and more frats are discovering that their secrecy, their clean cut college guy front, and their ability to form themselves into tight loyal gangs, means that organized crime of all kinds can flourish in-house. The drug trade is simply the organized crime of choice.

Problem is, drugs bring another crime: the crime of violence. These frat boys pack guns. There’s their drug gang and your drug gang and… you know. Maybe you even live in Chicago.

Serious university drug markets almost always center in and around the frats. Unserious university drug markets, like those at preppie schools like Wesleyan, tend to be a bunch of unarmed deadhead friends making a bit of money selling stuff to their roomies. But serious university drug markets, like the one at the Delta Chi fraternity at Northern Arizona University, do not fool around.

Why hasn’t Northern Arizona University shut down Delta Chi, with its history of drug sales? Some of its members, according to reports, were involved in some way in the shooting (one person dead, three injured) that took place yesterday on NAU’s campus. It’s too soon to know if the shootings were drug-related, but let’s say that they were. Why was Delta Chi still in operation?


Correction: In the original post, I mixed up the University of Arizona in Tucson and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. I’ve now corrected that, thanks to a reader who noticed the error.

“Vivenzio also accuses the fraternity of operating like a gang.”

When does a bikers’ club become a gang? When does a college fraternity become a gang? When does a football team become a gang? This blog has covered the Waco shootout, the Michael Deng killing, the Vanderbilt rapes, the San Diego State fraternity drug markets, etc., etc. These activities sure look to her like organized gang activity, subject to gang-specific enhanced legal penalties.

The Penn State frat in question here (Penn State! It can really afford more sagas of sordid men.), already in trouble for all kinds of shit, is accused of

obtaining some of its funding by converting the pre-paid food plans of its pledges and confiscating and selling their prescription drugs. These funds were then used to pay for countless socials, presocials and parties at the fraternity house at which underage students were plied with alcohol and, in some cases, with drugs to facilitate sexual assault and abuse.


Hm. Let’s see if we can follow this latest dispatch…

… from America’s colleges. It’s a little complicated, because it involves a football team/fraternity synergy… But okay. Let’s go.

A fraternity at Cal Poly has been suspended because the frat is a cover for a drug dealing operation. Nothing new there. More than a few frats have figured out that they’re supremely – UD would even say unbeatably – well-situated as far as the drug trade goes. Recall the federal raid of a bunch of San Diego State fraternities/drug houses. The raid netted guns along with drugs. These boys don’t fool around.

This latest thing, the thing at Cal Poly, also involved guns as well as drugs. Here’s the rather complicated first paragraph of an article about it:

Cal Poly has suspended the fraternity targeted in an attempted armed robbery last summer for violating student conduct policies, after the university determined chapter members knew illegal drugs were sold at the house and failed to take action.

See, what blew the cover of this frat’s operation was the school’s football team. A group of players wanted drugs, and they knew where the campus drug market was, and, well, something went wrong.

The Delta Sigma Phi house at 244 California Blvd. was the target of an attempted robbery on Aug. 10 allegedly committed by a group of Cal Poly football players believed to be looking for drugs.

I guess the football players didn’t want to buy the drugs; they didn’t seem to understand that the frat is a drug market, not a free drug distribution center.

So. To recap: You’ve got university football players committing armed robbery for drugs against a university fraternity.

Cal Poly: Keepin’ it all in-house!

“Fraternity brothers have had a horrible track record when it comes to not raping people.”

UD likes her way of putting it.


San Diego State University also scored a great headline in England’s Independent newspaper:


Way to go, SDSU! This is generating even more publicity than your six-fraternity drug cartel.

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