Dartmouth College ordered the Alpha Delta fraternity, inspiration for the movie “Animal House,” to close after finding students branded the flesh of chapter members.
Alpha Delta branded 11 new members with the fraternity’s letters in November, a practice dating back to the Class of 2008, according to a letter to the fraternity published by Dartblog, a website run by an alumnus.
“This is an overtly condoned and long-standing practice of the organization,” Alexandra Waltemeyer, the college’s assistant director of judicial affairs, said in the April 13 letter.
Alpha Delta violated the terms of a suspension in place at the time of the branding, Diana Lawrence, a spokeswoman, said in a statement. The fraternity has until April 20 to appeal. The college may withdraw recognition of the fraternity regardless of the outcome of the appeal, she said.
George Ostler, a Norwich, Vermont, lawyer representing the chapter, declined to comment. In March, he called the brands “a form of self-expression, similar to body piercing or tattooing,” and said that students voluntarily agreed to have them.
Alpha Delta had been suspended through March 29 because of rule infractions related to drinking and partying. While the branding didn’t constitute hazing, it was an “organizational activity” and thus violated the terms of the suspension, the letter said.
“We are disappointed by the college’s decision,” President Ryan Maguire said by e-mail. He said the chapter is planning to appeal.
After a fraternity loses recognition, town ordinances prohibit more than three unrelated people from living at the chapter house, according to the letter. Dartmouth has offered housing to all students involved, said Lawrence, who confirmed the letter’s authenticity.
In the past two years, Alpha Delta has been fined for serving alcohol to minors, apologized for co-hosting a “Crips and Bloods” party and had a member admit to urinating from a second-story balcony onto a woman below.
Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon belonged to Alpha Delta while at the Hanover, New Hampshire school, and graduated in 1977, a year before “Animal House” portrayed out-of-control behavior at the fraternity. Since taking office in 2013, Hanlon has defended Greek life while working to curb misconduct and heavy drinking. This year, he instituted a campus ban on hard liquor.