When I was teaching a student forged my name to check out a university van. The Dean of Students asked me to be part of a student court proceeding at which I was to testify. I found the student court mildly disrespectful, but what really got my goat was their response when they asked me what punishment I thought should be imposed. I suggested a punishment with a rehabilitation aspect that seemed appropriate, as long as they were asking. I don't know why they asked. They clearly had no intention of listening. Their sentence was that the student would have to write a one page paper having something, as I recall, to do with honesty. The only lesson learned he was that if you wanted to use a college vehicle, the cost was low.
That was a fairly minor infraction. Not so the recently reported 'pig roast' game that a Cornell fraternity held last year in which fraternity members scored points for bedding women, with over-weight women garnering extra points. When my wife came downstairs this morning after hearing this story on the news, she was livid. The punishment was, to her, a veritable slap on the wrist. Needless to say, she could imagine various surgical remedies that would be moderately more appropriate. As for me, I also thought about my car thief and how institutions of higher learning have a culture of shielding their students from real-world consequences.
"An investigation that concluded in January of 2018 determined that the chapter conducted a contest (in 2017) in which new members could accumulate 'points' by engaging in sexual intercourse with women," says a report by Cornell's Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL). "The contest was referred to as a 'pig roast'. In the event of a tie, additional points were awarded to the new member who had had sex with a woman who had weighed the most. The new members were told not to inform the women of the contest."
Far be it for me to ever understand why any woman would spend the night with a fraternity member, given the sordid reputation that is embedded in fraternity mythology. More troubling is the idea that these guys thought it is OK to victimize other people for the fun of it. Not telling the victims they are victims doesn't make them any less victims... although in a sick way not informing them was the kindest part of this story. Until it hit the national news.
It was widely reported this week, including USA Today, Newsweek, Fox News, and The New York Daily News, among many others. Locally the Cornell Daily Sun included the Zeta Beta Tau chapter's official response, which basically says 'This is bad, we didn't know this was happening, and we will look into it."
OSFL's punishment includes putting the chapter on probation for two years, conducting a full chapter review, a new live-in advisor, participation in a bystander education program, a walk-through of their facility, working with OSFL staff to identify resources such as the Women's Resource Center, disclose the chapter's judicial history to its members, begin an officer transition program, have 75% participation by the chapter in the university's Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and hold monthly meetings with OSFL to report on their progress.
So become more sensitive and don't do it again.
Consider this from another perspective. Cornell is an institution of higher learning. In the current 'Me Too' movement social environment that is exposing celebrities, politicians, and a myriad of successful men as sexual predators who are seeing their hard-earned careers disappear faster than you can pop a bubble, how smart can you possibly be to come up with this harebrained idea for a 'game'?
Newton's third law states, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Evidently that law doesn't apply on East Hill. Odd when you consider Cornell is one of the top universities in the world. While a social solution may assuage the consciences of academics, how about looking at this incident from an academic standpoint?
As an Ivy League university, shouldn't Cornell have minimally expelled the perpetrators of the contest, if not all the participants, on the grounds that they are too stupid to study at Cornell? That would certainly be an equal, if not opposite reaction.