Students admit to stealing at fraternity parties
Thefts occur due to rivalries between fraternity houses and attempts to impress others
September 19, 2011, 11:37 pm·
Traffic cones, fraternity pledge paddles, handles of Banker’s vodka and an 8-ball are among a list of things that Penn students have admitted to stealing from fraternity parties.
There are always a few cases of petty theft in fraternities each year, Interfraternity Council President and Wharton senior Harris Heyer wrote in an email. While some cases are the result of “long standing rivalries” between fraternity houses, other cases involve students who are not affiliated with the Greek community.
Theft usually occurs when fraternities or an off-campus house affiliated with a fraternity hosts a party for students. In these situations, students create a “wide open door” for theft, Vice President for the Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
“Much of this behavior is after [students] have been drinking,” Criminology professor and Director of Master in the Sciences Program in Criminology Freda Adler said. “After drinking, your sense of what can be fun is very different.”
When students are away from the controlled environment of home, stealing signs, photos or other small things is a low-risk way to impress others, Adler explained. Fraternity theft is generally always a case of “one-upmanship.”
“People love stealing the other frat’s keg, then leaving it empty on their lawn,” Adler added. “But if you tried to do anything legally about it, there wouldn’t be much done.”
The IFC holds a “no-questions-asked” policy in regards to fraternities that steal from each other, Heyer said. Under this policy, if a fraternity chapter returns items stolen from another fraternity, they will not be fined.
Heyer added that while the IFC does not condone theft, “fraternity photo composites or other highly valued fraternity artifacts are considered by some to be trophies.”
An Engineering sophomore, who requested anonymity in order to conceal his association with Greek life, noted that several items have been stolen from his fraternity house, including many handles of alcohol, fraternity pledge paddles and flags.
Another IFC affiliate and College sophomore, who requested anonymity in accordance with his fraternity’s policy, added that his fraternity has had its blender and pots stolen. In one instance, girls attempted to walk away with a fraternity photo composite, he said.
“Most people are looking for things that are associated with the frat,” he added.
“People think since frats are opening up their doors to them it’s a free for all,” said College sophomore Ian MacLean, who also belongs to an IFC fraternity. “The party atmosphere creates a sense of anonymity.”
One College sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous to conceal her criminal act, admitted to having a “collection” of pledge paddles and stealing the 8-ball off the pool table at a party.
“AEPi is the reason I haven’t bought alcohol all year,” added a female College sophomore.