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Frat attacked for offensive scavenger hunt

October 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.″

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