First Place Writing – Spot News


Goat incident shocks campus

AGRs suspended after Thursday’s incident at house
Originally published in the WKU Herald

The Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity president says it was a practical joke that got blown out of proportion.

Police say it was a hazing incident that involved new AGR members preparing to have sex with a goat.

And Western officials are still trying to determine if AGR members violated university policy by having a goat in their house that may have been used to intimidate new members.

The Student Life office is interviewing AGR members as part of an investigation into an alleged hazing incident that took place last week.

A one-and-a-half-year-old male goat was found in a basement storage room Thursday morning in the AGR house on 1436 Chestnut St.

Members of AGR planned on making new members believe they had to have sex with the animal, but weren’t actually going to make them do it, according to an extended police report about the incident released Monday.

Student Life and the AGR national organization have suspended the AGR chapter pending investigations, said Charley Pride, director of student activities.

Western may take away AGR’s status as a student organization if the group has broken university rules and policies, Pride said.

Any disciplinary action Western takes will also depend on whether members involved were acting individually or as part of the organization, he said.

The national fraternity was “shocked and repulsed” by the event, according to a statement on their Web site.

The AGRs may have also violated a policy banning alcohol from fraternity houses.

The event may be part of an increasing national trend of sex-related hazing in fraternities.

Police find goat in basement

Bowling Green police responded to a noise complaint at the AGR house at 2:20 Thursday morning, according to the police report.

They discovered a goat in the AGRs’ basement standing in its own urine and feces in a space that wasn’t large enough for it to walk.

Three unrolled condoms were also found in the room with the goat, the report stated. There did not appear to be semen in any of the condoms.

The police also found four new members hiding naked in the shower area of the house, the report stated. All four told police they didn’t have sex with the goat.

Pride said new members were being initiated on the night of the incident.

Henderson freshman Trenton Jackson, an AGR member, was cited for animal cruelty in the second degree after telling police he owned the goat, the report stated.

A report with additional information will be released today, said Barry Pruitt, public information officer for the Bowling Green police.

The city police’s department of animal cruelty took the goat to the Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society Thursday, where it was given a physical to check for damage.

Examiners found abrasions in the goat’s rectum, but could not determine what caused them, said Lorrie Hare, director of the Humane Society.

AGRs deny goat was for sex

Bringing the goat to the AGR house was a “group effort” as part of a practical joke, chapter President Brian Peyton said Friday.

Peyton denied allegations that the fraternity planned for pledges to have sex with the goat. He also said there wasn’t any hazing and the goat wasn’t harmed.

Peyton said on Friday that fraternity members were hanging out Thursday when they decided to bring the goat to the house. He declined to say how many members were involved.

Jackson then made a call and picked up the goat, which belonged to one of Jackson’s co-workers, Peyton said.

The animal was going to be used as a practical joke, Peyton said. He didn’t elaborate on the nature of the joke.

“It was mainly a prank that got blown way out of proportion,” said Peyton, a junior from Evansville, Ind.

Peyton said the animal was outside for most of the night, where it had food and water. It was brought into a main room in the basement before being moved to the storage room for about 30 minutes. Peyton didn’t elaborate on why the goat was brought into the house.

Peyton declined further comment on Monday at the request of the national organization.

Hazing investigated; can be dangerous

One expert on hazing said hazing is a self-perpetuating cycle that is widespread and common in fraternities.

AGR defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”

Hazing maintains a hierarchy that keeps the leader in control and creates blind obedience, said Susan Lipkins, a psychologist for 20 years and a hazing expert. Her book on preventing hazing will be published this August.

Perpetrators humiliate their victims as a right of passage and a test of worthiness, she said.

Leaders of hazing within an organization often haze new members because they have been hazed themselves, she said.

“They are doing the most humiliating, demeaning and debasing thing they can think of, and probably think it is funny,” she said.

Hazing is often sexual and sodomy is very common, she said.

Lipkins said there has been an increase in sexuality and aggressiveness in hazings in the last 10 years, she said.

Hazing occurs all over the country and is very common in fraternities. But it’s not reported most of the time, Lipkins said.

“I believe that hazing is alive in many colleges, and I get reports that it is extreme and dangerous,” she said.

There have been three reported hazing incidents in the last 10 years in the Kappa Sigma, Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternities.

All three incidents involved physical abuse. The KA Psi violation also included mental abuse.

“That’s behavior we do not tolerate,” Pride said.

Kentucky has no law against hazing.

Goat in foster care

The Bowling Green Police Department is conducting an investigation into the animal cruelty or any other crimes that may have been committed at the AGR house, Pruitt said.

Bringing livestock within 100 feet of a residence is a violation of city ordinance, City Clerk Katie Schaller said.

The goat is in foster care at an undisclosed location until the owner can be identified. The goat’s foster family was debating names for the animal and was leaning toward “Moonshine,” Hare said.

Four people have called to claim the animal as of Monday afternoon. The Humane Society has received an additional eight to 10 calls a day offering to provide a home for the goat, she said.

The police won’t allow the animal to be released until the investigation is complete.

Alcohol violations may carry penalties

The AGRs may also face penalties for violating Western’s alcohol policy for student organization housing and having underage drinking in the house.

According to the report, officers could see alcohol in plain view.

Minors were visibly intoxicated at the AGR house, Pruitt said.

Police didn’t see any minors drinking, the report stated. No one was arrested.

Police could not find the president of the fraternity at the party, who could have been charged for unlawful transaction with a minor.

Alcohol was banned from student organization housing in January 2005. AGR had one violation of the policy in August.

Fraternities are allowed three violations before they have to go before a committee to determine their status as an organization, Pride said.

For their second strike, AGRs will have to participate in an alcohol education program and face 10 hours of community service, Pride said.

Peyton declined to comment about minors drinking at the house.