Cult of Misogyny: Leaked Internal Documents Reveal Silence Around Harmful Culture at Phi Psi

Content warning: violence, sexual assault, offensive and racist language

I’m baaaaaaccccckkkkkkkkk. So after a nice 4-month vacation in paradise, [NAME] is back to boom roast some Phi fellows and bimbo rats at the same damn time. SO far, I dig the hustle. Nothing better than basement takedowns and tiny Asian chicks getting pummeled with full sheet cakes bearing the one and only [NAME]’s face. You guys make the minutes, I just sit behind my laptop and craft offensive s***.

For all you newcomers out there, if you show these to anyone outside the frat you are dead to me. … . Leaks will probably get my room in Mertz burned down while I’m sleeping so just don’t do it (lookin right at you [NAME]).

This is how the author begins a 12-page, 1997-word description of the happenings of an annual Phi Psi tradition, Paint Party, on Feb. 5, 2014 — a tradition that recurred only last weekend at the college.

The author uses racist language to describe a fellow member’s sexual interaction with a Black woman. He describes a member vomiting on a woman during sex. He insinuates a woman bribed a police officer with sex.

Phi Psi, which disaffiliated from its national Phi Kappa Psi chapter in 1963 in order to admit a Black member into its pledge class, presently leases an on-campus house from the college. Phi Psi has historically included most or all of the men’s lacrosse team roster.

These “minutes,” as they were referred to by members of the fraternity, were written during spring 2013 and spring 2014; they contain photos, videos, memes, and graphically detailed, written accounts of drinking, sex, parties, and campus events at the time. The Phoenix began an investigation after an anonymous source sent the minutes, unsolicited, along with numerous other internal Phi Psi documents.

The events chronicled in the minutes range from “drunken nights” to purported accounts of private sexual encounters with women, and include pictures, videos and memes of students, including Phi Psi members themselves.

A PDF of what The Phoenix received can be found here. All names and identifiable information have been redacted. Video footage, miscellaneous photographs, and drafts of public statements have been omitted from this PDF.

It is unclear whether the author(s) of these minutes incorporated information that members reported to them, or whether the author incorporated this information without members’ consent in some cases. There is also no evidence to suggest that all events, both described and insinuated in the minutes, actually occurred.

Minutes of this nature were circulated to Phi Psi members on a fraternity-wide listserv that contained numerous college email addresses. Pledges were given access upon completing the initiation process, 2015 Phi Psi president Conor Clark ’16 said in an interview with The Phoenix.

The minutes were circulated in this fashion between March 18, 2013 and February 7, 2014, the date the above excerpt was created. The above excerpt is from the last known set of minutes of such nature to be sent through Phi Psi’s listserv.

Minutes written after this date continued to circulate, but among a smaller subset of Phi Psi members who opted into a separate listserv with private email addresses.

“I’m very surprised that those [the minutes] came back up,” Clark said. “That happened very early on in my time at Swat and generation over generations, we worked very hard to distance ourselves from that point in time, and grow into a more mature and a better organization,” Clark said.

Accountability & 2013 Referendum

These minutes were written and circulated during the Spring of 2013, a period that would become known as “The Spring of Our Discontent.” During this time, a confluence of events precipitated unrest amongst the college community.

These events included a student referendum on Greek Life, multiple urinations on the door of the Intercultural Center, and two federal Title IX complaints submitted by Hope Brinn ’15 and Mia Ferguson ’15. That spring also marked Kappa Alpha Theta sorority’s controversial return to the college, which had been without sororities since their abolition in 1933.

Notably, these minutes circulated among the fraternity-wide listserv at a time when the student body debated existence of Greek life on campus. In Spring 2013, the debate led to a vote conducted by a campus-wide, non-binding referendum which concluded by a 20-point margin that a majority of students were not in favor of the eradication of Greek life.

Shortly before the referendum vote, then-Phi Psi President Zach Schaffer ’14 told The Phoenix in a 2013 interview, “The Greek groups on campus will continue to work together with the leaders of the referendum to figure out how we should proceed going forward.” Schaffer could not be reached for comment on this article.

A flurry of op-eds, Facebook posts, and sidewalk chalkings displaying messages about the referendum as well as student protests characterized the sense of divisiveness on campus. Several incidents of urinations on the door of the Intercultural Center shook campus, as reported by The Phoenix. But no perpetrator was ever found.

The Phoenix does not have sufficient evidence to draw conclusions about these incidents. However, a video dated April 9, 2013 at 1:08 a.m., depicts a person filming a stream of urination onto chalk letters that spell out “REFERENDUM.” Due to the sensitive nature of the video, The Phoenix has chosen not to publish it online.

In April 2013, the student body voted against five out of six questions on the referendum, indicating that the majority did not wish to eliminate Greek life on campus but did want to make Greek institutions coed.

When asked to comment on the minutes, 2012 Phi Psi president Mike Girardi ’13 stated that he did not recall if he had read them. He described the “The Spring of our Discontent” as a time of conflict both within and without of the Phi Psi house.

“There were those who saw issues that should’ve been addressed and others who didn’t quite understand the issues at hand and thus believed everything was fine,” Girardi said. “I believe that [a] culture regarding racism, sexism, sexual assault, and homophobia were all at a crossroads at Phi Psi and a choice was to continue building on changes that were focused on rooting out the negative aspects of our culture or to go backwards.”

Minutes throughout the spring of 2013 into the spring of 2014 include the following statements (warning, explicit and graphic language):

[2/7/14]

“[NAME] had some lady friend upstairs late night (May or may not have a different skin color). Well [NAME 1] and [NAME 2] (mainly [NAME 2]) wanted a peak. After perfuse [sic] banging on the door [NAME 1] finally screams, “[NAME 2] WANTS TO SEE SOME BLACK N*PS!!!” Absolutely laid it all out there. Hey [NAME], never change for me. “

[4/8/13]

“We just took a nice sloppy poop on that referendum and we control the social scene. I feel like the only move at this point is manifest destiny. I mean am I wrong? Expand our territory and wipe out every other group in our path. First stop WRC [Women’s Resource Center] next stop BCC [Black Cultural Center] (sorry [NAME] and maybe [NAME] it’s just a pawn in the grand scheme of things). Just taking over one building at a time until we possess enough building space to start our own m**f sex trafficking ring. God that would be hot. Anyways, it was so packed in Phi after the concert that I was legitimately scared of being accused of sexual harassment for rubbing up against so many t*ts. Every time I turned around I felt like I just whacked a girl in the cans. Sl**s.”

[4/8/13]

“Up to this point, I honestly thought that a male getting sexually assaulted was a hoax. A myth. A masquerade fashioned by elitist feminists to legitimize their own troubles. I just could not comprehend how a man could allow a woman to sexually conquer him without putting up a fight. This view, however, completely changed after this past Thursday. [NAME] was legitimately assaulted. Deflowered, if you will. Some broad rolled into Phi Psi and was not going to take “no” for an answer. She tickled his t*ts, groped his c***, and rubbed her wet v** all over his neatly pressed khakis. An all out estrogen mugging.”

[3/25/13]

“At around 12:30 he was already elbow deep in soggy p***. I made my way down to the sanctum to blow m***y off some chicks kankle and what do I see? [NAME] just wrecking a chick on a Phi Psi couch. F*** yea. Hopefully he cr******* her too. You know what? I know he cr******* her. That’s all [NAME] does. Buzzcuts and cr******* coming at you whether you like it or not.”

[4/22/13]

“On Saturday he decided to take one of these strolls and came across a chick passed out faced first in front of trotter. We weren’t given any real details as what occurred after he found her. I have no further comment on this story.”

[5/19/13]

“One of the funniest stories from formal of course involved troll [NAME]. Hot d*** over here just absolutely smacked [NAME]’s a** for no reason. It was a good windup too. He made solid contact and acted like it aint no thang. Let me tell you something. [NAME] was not at all happy. She looked at him like he had just killed her 3rd grade pet guinea pig.”

[3/24/13]

“I just want to warn all of you that if I happen to make out with you late night in Phi Psi it is completely not my fault. [NAME] syndrome is unavoidable. One second you are bouncing around looking like an Italian [NAME] and the next you are sucking face in an empty house with someone who also has a penis.”

[4/8/13]

“Hopefully all of you are bottling up all the consent you have for this weekend. Should be a good one!”

In a statement to The Phoenix, current Phi Psi leadership, on behalf of the fraternity, condemned the minutes.

“Our current brothers were in high school and middle school at the time of these unofficial minutes. We unequivocally condemn and reject the obscene and hurtful remarks made in these documents. We are thankful for the extensive discussion and exceptional dialogue between the Swarthmore Administration and other student groups that has led to a transformation of the fraternity in recent years,” the statement read. “We want to reaffirm our commitment to these causes and to continue developing a culture of accountability and inclusion. We are proud of who we are today, a diverse group of 59 brothers who are members of the community like everyone else.”

The Phoenix hopes to hear further from individuals who were affected or involved in the incidents described. If you have information related to these incidents or would like to send a private message to the author, please go to swatphoenix.sarahah.com to submit a secure message or contact editor@swarthmorephoenix.com receive the authors’ contact information.

An explanation on our process, including that of authenticating the documents, can be found here.

Editor’s note: a previous version of this article stated that the documents spanned until Feb. 5, 2014 instead of Feb. 7, 2014. The article has been updated accordingly.

Bayliss Wagner

Bayliss '21 is from Vienna, VA. She is majoring in English literature and minoring in computer science and French.

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