Cornell University has placed the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity on probation for two years because of its “pig roast” contest — new members were encouraged to have sex with as many women as possible and overweight women generated the most points.
Cornell student Pegah Moradi is a columnist for the Cornell Daily Sun. Moradi wrote that the shock and surprise expressed by leaders of ZBT as well as the university is insulting.
“To imply that the commodification and abuse of the female body is anything but ordinary is naïve,” she wrote. “To suggest that the sort of amplified masculinity inherent in the system of the American fraternity is neither an incubator of nor a conduit for misogyny is deluded. To deny that sexism in Greek life is routine is appalling. To say we should be surprised is an insult.
“The all-American method of addressing cruelty is to express shock and then to sculpt that shock into an ersatz response. This is explicit in the way our nation’s legislatures respond to mass shootings or corruption, for instance, but the same sentiment exists on a micro scale, and it especially exists in the laughably lazy responses from both Zeta Beta Tau and the University.”
The probation period of two years begins this month following an investigation by the university’s Fraternity and Sorority Review Board, which ended in January. The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life was made aware of the allegations in 2017.
According to the “Hazing at Cornell” website, ZBT was found guilty of violating section 11 of Cornell’s Fraternity and Sorority Expectations of Membership, which does not “tolerate or condone any form of sexually abusive behavior on the part of its members, whether physical, mental, or emotional. This is to include any actions, which are demeaning to any person or persons including but not limited to sexual assault or verbal harassment.”
In the pig roast competition, new members were encouraged to have sex with women to earn points.
“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,” according to the university’s website. “The new members were told not to inform the women of the contest.”
Other steps ZBT will have to take in addition to the chapter’s probation, include an external review by its national organization, hiring a live-in advisor who reports to the university administration and participating in events such as Sexual Assault Awareness Week and Cornell’s bystander intervention program.
ZBT posted a Facebook message stating that its leadership only found out about the pig roast contest in December and they were “shocked and appalled” by the allegations. The fraternity’s leadership said the contest wasn’t a chapter-sanctioned activity.
Ryan Lombardi, Cornell’s vice president for student and campus life, said in a statement that ZBT’s behavior “is abhorrent to me and antithetical to our values as a community. Behavior that degrades and dehumanizes women contributes to a climate and culture of tolerance for sexual violence.”