For about a year, the brothers of Dartmouth College’s Beta Alpha Omega—the straight-laced fraternity that famously hosted Rick Perry after a Republican debate in October 2011—have corresponded about house debauchery, fraternity rituals, and other key topics using Google Groups, apparently to avoid using Dartmouth’s own servers (and the eyes of college administrators).
We recently discovered that whoever set it up forgot to lock it down, enabling anyone to find a complete, updating archive of Beta’s internal conversations on Groups.google.com. We’ve dug up the choicest excerpts below.
(Update: The Google group is now locked. We’ve uploaded an archive of the emails to DocumentCloud.)
“What is your favorite category of pornography?”
A recent pledge questionnaire nicely demonstrates the house’s attitude toward women. In addition to their height and weight, Beta pledges are asked to report their “chill-to-pull” ratio, which indicates the precise proportion between hanging out with fellow brothers and having sex with various “slams.” They’re also asked to indicate their preferred porn genre. Among the responses:
“Girl on Girl”
Several email threads are devoted to photos taken of Beta brothers attempting to seduce female visitors. In one discussion from last week, a brother comments: “Jamie with an a phi pledge looks to up his rodding percentage at the end of week 3. Classic.” Another from last year: “The blonde girl in this video looks like she wants to be anywhere else.”
Nothing here is particularly shocking. Within the fraternity system, this is how bros bond. But it’s a bit less funny when your house is under suspicion for supplying alcohol to a rapist.
We came across the list-serv while researching Beta’s involvement in a sexual assault that took place on Dartmouth's campus. On Saturday the house threw a rager at its Hanover, New Hampshire mansion, where, according to a college-wide email, brothers served a male guest and Navy sailor who later that night allegedly raped a female student.
“This could very quickly get very bad for the house”
In an email sent to brothers on Sunday afternoon, the chapter’s president warns:
I hope you all saw this email from earlier this afternoon. If ANYONE has any information about this, or knows anyone who might, please let me know asap. This could very quickly get very bad for the house if we do not get on top of it.
The concern (albeit for the house’s reputation, rather than the victim’s safety) is understandable: The fraternity was kicked off campus in 1996 after a series of violent/homophobic/sexist incidents involving pledges and other fraternities, and is rumored to have installed hidden cameras throughout the house for the purpose of watching other brothers copulate with sorority sisters. (Perhaps the progenitor, in a much more extreme form, of the house’s taste for creepshots.)
“Pledge X is a pussy who can’t handle it”
Since being reinstated in 2008, Beta has since tried to clean up its image by hosting people like retired Marine Corps General James Mattis for informal talks. Indeed, it’s recently grown into a fresh identity: Politically conservative and hard-drinking, with lots of athletes, a sizable number of military veterans, and an involved alumni corps who try to keep the actives in line. One alum speaking to Gawker described the house as unusually religious and, at least for Dartmouth, fairly wholesome.
But are they? An agenda (“this document should not ever be printed out”) attached to a September 26 email details the protocol of an event called Sink Night, where students rushing Beta are hazed before formally accepting their invitation to pledge.
While the Sink Night agenda includes a handful of precautions (“Never force a pledge to drink. Ask them if they’re drinking, if yes—drink when need be. If not, make someone else drink for them.”) it makes clear that Beta brothers coerce binge drinking by challenging each others’ masculinity:
Never allow a pledge to take more than one shot at your station. It is not worth the risk. If they get two things wrong, make someone else drink and say that it’s because “you’ve heard Pledge X is a pussy who can’t handle it” (or something to that effect)
It’s unlikely Dartmouth administrators are privy to such rituals. But Dartmouth is hardly a stranger to their kind: Just last week, The New York Times detailed a string of prior alcohol-soaked incidents involving the school’s ubiquitous Greek system.
And, to be sure, Beta plans to be more careful at their next party: In the same email warning brothers about Saturday’s rager, Beta’s president reiterates a few basic party rules to be executed by pledges: “CHECK EVERYONE’S ID”; “Non-Dartmouth students are never allowed in the house unless they have a brother/pledge who is personally responsible for them.”
But enforcing such rules requires a modicum of sobriety: A difficult feat in a house practically submerged in alcohol.
Beta Alpha Omega’s president and vice-president, Ned Kingsley and Edward von Kuhn, did not respond to emails requesting comment.
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