Last October, a Georgia Tech student was serving as the social chair of campus fraternity Phi Kappa Tau when he sent out a frat-wide email entitled “Luring Your Rapebait.” It culminated in this advice:
A short guide … the 7 E’s of HOOKING UP! 1. Encounter (spot a girl or group of girls) 2. Engage (go up and talk to them) 3. Escalate (ask them to dance, or ask them to go up to your room or find a couch, depending on what kind of party) 4. Erection (GET HARD) 5. Excavate (should be self-explanatory) 6. Ejaculate (should also be self explanatory) 7. Expunge (send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished). IF ANYTHING EVER FAILS, GO GET MORE ALCOHOL. I want to see everyone succeed at the next couple parties.
The email went viral, and the PKT brother swiftly apologized for what he characterized as a bad joke. “As hard as it may be to believe, it was written as a joke for a small audience that understood the context and that it is not my nor my fraternity’s actual beliefs on the subject,” he wrote in in the George Tech student newspaper Technique. “Misogynistic behavior is everywhere online and unfortunately, my attempt to ridicule it in an immature and outrageous satire backfired terribly and in a manner I mistakenly underestimated.” After an investigation of the chapter, the national Phi Kappa Tau organization chalked up the incident to “the poor decision-making of a member.”
Now, two young women are claiming that Phi Kappa Tau’s casual promotion of rape was no one-off joke. In separate lawsuits filed in Georgia this week against the national PKT organization, the Georgia Tech chapter, and the official advisor appointed to the chapter by PKT, college students “Jane Doe” and “June Doe” allege that they were both raped by a PKT brother in the Georgia Tech frat house; they say they were raped by the same guy in separate incidents following PKT parties.
In her suit, Jane Doe claims that at a PKT party a few months after the “rapebait” email circulated, she left the party to use a bathroom attached to one brother’s room. ”When she left the bathroom, she found [the man] had entered the room and closed the door behind him,” her suit claims. “He then raped Jane.” A few days later, still covered in bruises, she says, Jane reported the assault to the Georgia Tech Police Department. That’s when a second woman, June, came forward. June alleges that in November of 2012, when she was an 18-year-old freshman at a nearby college, she accepted an invitation to a semi-formal dance sponsored by PKT. June claims that her date—the same man Jane says raped her—kept “plying her with one alcoholic drink after another” until she vomited at the venue. When a bus transported students back to the frat house, June says that her date “took June to his private bedroom,” where she vomited again. When she “lied down on a couch in the room to go to sleep,” the suit claims, the man “got on top of June and raped her while she lay helpless, dizzy, sick, and frozen.”
According to the suits, police are still investigating the incidents, and the student has been expelled from the school. In March, Georgia Tech disbanded its PKT chapter entirely, citing a “pattern of sexual violence that … suggests a deep-rooted culture within the Fraternity that is obscene, indecent and endangers women.” Now, the women are claiming that the national PKT organization and its Georgia Tech chapter were negligent in their failure to prevent that culture from thriving. The suits note that the “rapebait” email was hardly the only red flag to emerge from the frat house: The women say that notes from PKT chapter meetings minutes contain phrases like “rape is good” and state that one frat member “is down for rape.” Another email sent to the entire frat allegedly encouraged brothers to “find and meet former rape baits” at a campus Take Back the Night vigil. And these rape “jokes” apparently never got old. According to the suit, songs sung at frat functions contained lyrics like: “Who can take a tight slut / Fuck her ‘till she cries / Then pull it out real fast and skeet into her eyes.”
In a statement, the national Phi Kappa Tau organization expressed disappointment that the lawyers for the women “chose to exploit the hypersensitivity of today’s college environment toward sexual assault by drafting the complaints in a manner that sensationalizes completely inappropriate statements.” PKT added that, because charges have not been filed against the man, the fraternity has “only anecdotal information about what may have occurred.”