The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Call me cynical

“When are they going to do something to that fraternity?” Mr. Stiles asked in an e-mail he sent me Wednesday night.

Mr. Stiles is the father of Jake Stiles, the SMU sophomore and member of SAE fraternity who died the night of the SAE holiday party in December of 2006. His e-mail was a response to the recent charge of drugging and sexual assault at the SAE house.

Since their son’s death, SMU has refused the Stiles’ repeated requests to release the police report on their son’s death. SMU’s only explanation is it is not required to do so under state law – an answer so self-serving that it makes one wonder what is in the report that would embarrass either SMU or SAE.

As the Stiles anguished over the death of their son – wondering what went on in the SAE house the night their son died, who was involved – those who witnessed (or participated in) their son’s death carried on, graduating from SMU, going to law school or getting a cushy job with a tony magazine.

When are they going to do something? I wish I had an answer.

Based on what is known, the allegations that an SAE fraternity member drugged and sexually assaulted a female student are just that, allegations. Allegations that should be taken seriously.

Also based on what is known, one suspects that the allegations are true.

I cannot be the only person who has heard that such druggings are commonplace in fraternities, in some more than others, and others not at all. The statistics on acquaintance rape are staggering. The statistics also suggest that such rapes are more likely to occur in fraternity houses than in dormitories.

Unfortunately, we may never know the truth about what happened in the SAE house the night before Good Friday, just as we may never know what happened the night of the SAE holiday party in 2006. But there is and will always be a cloud over the SAE house, a cloud that the administration to date has chosen to ignore.

What we do know is that two weeks before Jake Stiles died, his roommate, Clark, overdosed at the SAE formal in Galveston, Texas. Clark would later tell friends and family that he had been drugged.

Jake was understandably troubled by the near death of his roommate. Two weeks later, Jake died. One student near death, another dead, and what did SMU do? Rush to label Jake’s death an “isolated” incident, in spite of evidence that others were doing drugs at the SAE house the night Jake died.

Why would SMU rush to label Jake’s death an isolated incident? The answer lies in the apparently cynical musings of college students of, the Web site where students speculated that SAE’s powerful and well-connected alumni would intervene (interfere?) in the investigation.

Call me cynical, but if a near death and a death aren’t enough to question whether a fraternity is out of control, I’m not sure what is. Call me cynical, but prove me wrong.

In Thursday’s editorial, the DC editorial board rightly condemned those who accused the victim of either making the story up or “asking for it.”

Never were viler, more cowardly and reprehensible words spoken. As despicable as they are, however, they are all too common. After criticizing those who engaged in the predictable and unconscionable blame-the-victim game, the editors admonished others for their lack of faith in the administration.

To dismiss the notion that wealthy SAE alumni would not intervene on behalf of their fraternity is naive. It is equally naive to believe that SMU will do any more than it did following the near death and death of two SAE members – two weeks apart – in 2006.

As the editors pointed out, it is not surprising that the victim declined to press charges. I can remotely identify with her. Three years ago when someone wrote FAGGOT on my office door, it was only a matter of hours before students began to accuse me of having done it to myself. To make matters worse, SMU did nothing, except put out a press release reaffirming its commitment to diversity.

Rape is never an easy crime to acknowledge, much less prosecute. It is even more difficult to live with. Witness the vitriol being spewed by some, either those who have done what her attacker did or have considered doing it. In times like these, there is a tendency to circle the wagons and go on the offensive. That’s what we’re seeing.

Jake Stiles was beginning to see this side of his fraternity. Following the near death of his roommate, after witnessing how indifferent some of his brothers were, he expressed his doubts about continuing in the fraternity. Two weeks later, he died.

If Jake felt helpless within his own fraternity, imagine how a woman who was drugged and raped in the same fraternity might feel. And if the full force of SAE (or SMU) was called into action to protect the fraternity following Jake’s death, imagine what is happening now.

Cynical? If I am, it’s because I know that SMU ignored the very important lessons that could have been learned from Clark Scott’s near overdose, and Jake Stiles died as a result. And in their rush to label Jake’s death an isolated incident, administrators sent a signal that, for some, there are no consequences.

Last fall, SAE President Charles Slick asked me for a meeting during which he looked me in the eye, as you would expect a gentleman to do, and told me that he would have a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug use. Obviously, someone didn’t get the memo.

Cynical? Perhaps I am. I don’t want to believe that a student at this college is capable of something so cowardly and horrific. Nor do I want to believe that, once again, administrators will stick their heads in the sand and let another injustice go by.

Will they do something? I wish I knew, Mr. Stiles.

George Henson is a lecturer of Spanish and foreign languages and literatures. He can be contacted at [email protected].

More to Discover