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Beta attempted to convince the Inter-Fraternity Judiciary Committee to suspend its sentence for the fraternity's misconduct in 1965.

Credit: The DP archives

Phi Delta Theta’s Christmas card featuring a dark-skinned Beyoncé sex doll is far from the first or most provocative fraternity incident in past years.

The racist and sexist implications drawn by some from the Phi Delta Theta photo were more explicit in an incident at Zeta Beta Tau in 1988. The fraternity was accused of hiring black women to perform at a rush event. The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that an estimated one to two hundred men attended the event.

“While the women were removing their clothing, members of the audience shouted racist remarks such as, ‘Where did you get them niggers?’" the DP article said. “Members of the audience helped to ‘insert quartered cucumbers into the vaginas of the two women and poured or squirted catsup on the women’s exposed genital area.’ A freshman rush, drunk according to some audience members, danced naked on stage with the women. The memo describes that, as the freshman danced with the women, the two engaged in oral sex.”

In 1965, three members of Beta Theta Pi allegedly violated regulations about entertaining women in fraternities. A female student was injured, and initially claimed to have slipped in the snow. However, she later confessed at the hospital that her injuries were inflicted upon her by one of the Beta brothers.

More recently, in 1990, 10 members from the fraternity commonly known as Castle — Psi Upsilon — carried out a plot to kidnap a particular Delta Psi brother, but they kidnapped the wrong man. William A. O’Flanagan was lured from a Delta Psi residence with a flower deliveryman as a decoy. He was blindfolded and tied at his hands and feet. Despite his insistence that they had the wrong person, the Psi Upsilon brothers proceeded to taunt him with racially-charged rhetoric — such as tapes of Malcolm X — and to subject him to a mock trial in which he was accused of being a racist and anti-Semitic. His captors also threatened him with a knife.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office sentenced nine of them to a program intended for defendants with no previous criminal record, which allowed the charges to be withdrawn and the arrest records expunged if they went a year without getting arrested.

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