Frat attacked for offensive scavenger hunt
THOMAS P. WYMAN
Oct. 21, 1997
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ A fraternity was threatened with expulsion from Indiana University on Tuesday for staging a scavenger hunt that had pledges search for photos of two women kissing, a midget and ``any funny looking Mexican.''
Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis said Zeta Beta Tau's list ``really offended many groups on campus.''
``It offended women, blacks, gays and lesbians,'' he said. ``It offended the majority culture.''
The list surfaced when police arrested nine pledges last week on charges of stealing a street sign, one of 22 items on the scavenger list.
Students and administrators were outraged by the list, which also asked pledges to get pictures of the ``hottest'' and ``ugliest'' girl at an undergraduate dorm.
The fraternity was suspended, but officials resisted a call for its expulsion without a hearing.
Fraternity President Jason Nierman said he has apologized to every group on campus.
``Before everyone on campus judges us, I beg you to give us a chance,'' Nierman said at the Latino Culture Center on Monday.
Saying the fraternity would get a hearing, Gros Louis pointed out that students have free speech rights, even if what is said or written is objectionable to others.
``Sure it's frustrating,'' he said. ``And yet when you deny free speech to one group or one person, it begins the potential of a snowballing effect, and suddenly free speech is gone.''
Gros Louis also bemoaned the ``enormous'' irony that the list was compiled by a Jewish fraternity.
``It's painful that a group that historically has experienced anti-Semitism should be party to something that is as offensive as anti-Semitism to other groups,'' he said.
Lawrence J. Hanks, dean of Afro-American Affairs, said he was stunned that the list was actually written down.
``It's one thing to think it. It's another thing to say it in the comfort of your own home,'' Hanks said. ``You have to be mighty, mighty comfortable to write something like that down. So clearly we have a campus climate problem if these sorts of things are going on.''