Greek life is ingrained at Elon, which dominates a town of 9,500 in a region once populated by textile mills. An up-and- coming university that draws three-fourths of its students from outside North Carolina, Elon is home to 23 fraternities and sororities. A quarter of the 5,400 undergraduates are members, according to the university.
"Almost all the parties on the weekend are Greek related," said Al Drago, a sophomore.
Elon promotes its Greek life, saying on its website that "the fraternity and sorority community at Elon has enhanced the lives of thousands of men and women" and added "many valuable dimensions" to the university.
The school's bylaws state that students under 21 who consume alcohol will be punished and that fraternity events on or off campus must comply. In practice, it's easier for Elon to enforce rules for on-campus fraternity and sorority houses, which it owns. Private off-campus parties often fall outside its purview, said Dean of Students G. Smith Jackson.
"It's private property," Jackson said. "It's not our jurisdiction to go in and start confronting students."
That's why many Elon students go to parties at off-campus residences rented by members of various fraternities, and known by colorful nicknames, such as "The Plantation," "The Museum," and "The Bullpen."
Mynhardt was injured at an off-campus party on Feb. 3, 2007, at 211 North Lee, a one-story red brick house with bushes in front and a barbecue grill on the side. Three Lambda Chi brothers, including John "Jack" Cassady, vice-president of the fraternity chapter, shared the rental, known as "211," which had been passed for years from one group of Lambda brothers to the next, according to court records.