March 30, 2013

Fraternities worse than Animal House fail to pay for casualties


SAE changed its bylaws in March 2011, a month after the hazing death of Cornell University sophomore George Desdunes at the SAE chapter there. SAE pledges kidnapped Desdunes, blindfolded him, tied him up and forced him to drink so much alcohol that he died, according to his family.

Cornell withdrew recognition of the chapter, which was convicted in a county court of violating anti-hazing laws and fined $12,000, and the Desdunes family sued Sigma Alpha Epsilon for $25 million. The case is pending.

SAE's revised bylaws state that its related charitable foundation and housing corporation are "not part" of the national organization.

"They're attempting to have these lines drawn so it's harder to get to those assets," said Douglas Fierberg, a Washington lawyer who represents Desdunes' family.

Today, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation and the SAE Financial and Housing Corp., which together earned $4.6 million in 2010 revenue, are seeking dismissal from the lawsuit. They say they're separate entities from the national fraternity, which had $5.5 million in revenue.

SAE lawyer Frank Ginocchio declined to comment.

Mynhardt, whose neck was broken at the Elon fraternity party, visited the school for the first time in 2003, as a prospective student. Born in Phoenix, he had moved as a child to Botswana, where his father was a pilot. He attended boarding school in South Africa and opted for college in the U.S. to study business.

Elon, with its Georgian-style buildings, expansive fields and innumerable oak trees on 500-plus acres, appealed to him. Plus, it had a contingent of South Africans and offered rugby, which the six-footer had played since childhood.

On a campus tour, his guide touted Elon's robust Greek life. Mynhardt went to a fraternity party, where the 17-year-old was served beer.

"They're telling us 40 percent of the campus was Greek," he recalled. "It was a huge selling point."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Has the ipad lost its swag?

    The numbers are clear: Apple is selling fewer iPads.

    August 1, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20110929_bowling.jpg Why fewer people go bowling

    Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 28, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 27, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 26, 2014

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 25, 2014

  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014