Monday, January 14, 2008

Northwestern DU's Use Midgets for Recruitment Event

Rush event under investigation
DU books 'hardcore midget wrestling' group
By Abe Rakov

Northwestern's chapter of Delta Upsilon fraternity may face disciplinary action from the university after hiring an entertainment group, which bills itself as the "one and only hardcore midget wrestling company," to perform at a recruitment event last week.

At a DU event held Jan. 8, the Half Pint Brawlers performed a show, during which they simulated sex, jumped off a ladder onto one another and stapled each other in the face, among other acts depicted in photographs and videos e-mailed to The Daily.

In the videos, attendees cheered and chanted, urging the performers to "Hit him with a chair!" and "Do it again!"

According to the Half Pint Brawler's Web site, the matches involve "staple guns, thumb tacks, broken bottles (and) trash cans," and "the midgets bleed what little blood they have for your enjoyment."

Mary Desler, NU's associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said she was unaware the event took place until Sunday morning. "We ask that groups inform us of what activities they are going to sponsor during fraternity recruitment," Desler said. "And we do have conversations with groups who are scheduling activities that we think could be, without more information, possibly in violation of university rules and regulations."

In this case, DU could have violated NU's hazing policy, which includes, "any action taken or situation created, whether on or off university premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule for the purpose of affiliation with a group, team, club, or their organization," according to NU's student handbook.

Multiple sources said DU only recently was removed from probation.

One of the performers from Half Pint Brawlers, "Puppet the Psycho Dwarf," wrote in an e-mail to The Daily that the show was booked about one month ago. "Little Justice (another performer) and myself had a great time at the event," he wrote. "The kids really seemed to enjoy the show."

He said the group performs at private parties on days off from other events. The Half Pint Brawlers next perform at the Midtown Music Hall in Bend, Ore., on Jan. 24, according to their Web site. They return to Chicago on Feb. 7 for a performance at Bar Chicago.

Everyone at the DU event "looked like they were having fun," wrote David Cao, a Weinberg freshman and one of DU's 24 pledges, in an e-mail to The Daily. He added that he heard the fraternity was going to have "K-Y Jelly midget fighting" that night, and that he was a little surprised in what he saw "considering the tame nature of the other frats' events."

"They were paid professionals and were doing a well-practiced act," Cao wrote. "There were some extreme moments, but that was part of their job."

One of the videos sent to The Daily shows a performer climbing a ladder and waiting at the top while attendees chanted, "Jump. Jump. Jump." He eventually jumped onto his fellow performer, who fell to the ground before the first performer stapled a dollar bill to his face. Soon after, the performer got a member of the audience to remove the bill.

In another video, a performer put a bucket over his counterpart's head before kicking him. Another video shows one of the performers scattering tacks on the ground and then throwing the other onto them.

Messages left for DU President Tommy Smithburg, other DU pledges and the fraternity's national headquarters were not returned Sunday. Weinberg senior and Interfraternity Council President Billy Carberry declined to comment.

Two fraternities were removed from campus in the past four years after violating probation. Kappa Sigma was suspended from the university in June 2003 after an incident during a formal held at Shedd Aquarium.

NU accused the fraternity, which was already on probation, of vandalism, alcohol use and other improprieties, The Daily reported at the time.

Delta Tau Delta was also removed from campus after violating its probation. The fraternity was kicked off in June 2007 because of disciplinary problems, but administrators would not explain the circumstances to The Daily.

Student Affairs usually takes one to two weeks to investigate possible violations of university policy. If Student Affairs feels a policy was violated, the case would then be referred to the University Hearing and Appeals System, NU's formal judicial process, where the fraternity's fate would be decided.