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Going Down With The Ship: An Account Of The Events Leading To A Fraternity Shutdown

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One morning in May, the Alpha house was raided and shut down by the authorities. What follows is an account of the events that led to its shutdown.


9 Months until Shutdown

The late summer air flowed through the open windows of the front room, bringing with it the bustle of car trunks popping open and slamming shut, suitcase wheels rolling on the blacktop, and the chatter of people talking about the events of the summer. None of this could be heard from the basement of the Alpha house, where preparations were being made for the night’s festivities.

“Nah, that won’t work. We can’t have that speaker close to the vents, you’ll hear that shit from a mile away.”

Carson bristled at the thought of a passing patrol car being alerted to the activities of the Alpha house via the guitar chords of “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” blaring through the basement walls. He was beginning his second semester as the risk management chair of his house, and anything that could result in a close brush with Johnny Law put him on edge. He was convinced he was now aging at twice the rate of a normal human being, and the cigarette habit he was picking up only added to this. While he and his committee members were on the dancefloor of the basement, the social committee was in the process of exhausting the local liquor store’s supplies of Jim Beam, ice, beer, gold tequila, gin, vodka, and mixers.

The theme of that night’s party was “Back to School.” It may have been on the boring end of themes, but the theme wouldn’t matter on a night like this. By one or two, the whole party would devolve into something bearing resemblance to the aftermath of a music festival in the desert. This was relatively new territory for the Alpha house, as they had come a long way to get to this point. After being shut down in the late ’90s for hazing, they were re-chartered in 2010 by eight guys. At the beginning of this year, they were up to 83 members and were emerging as a powerhouse on Greek Row. Everything was getting bigger for them — bigger pledge classes, bigger formals, bigger parties, and bigger expectations. Alpha’s meteoric rise showed no signs of stopping as the summer came to a close. When looking in from the outside, there was cause for suspicion as to how the house was on that great of an upswing. But that wasn’t important for now.

The back door swung open.

“Hey guys, we need some of y’all to help us haul this stuff in.”

Nate, the social chair, had returned with the rest of his committee. In the back of Nate’s pickup were four kegs, 16 boxes of wine, and a fair assortment of other party favors. A bunch of the JIs jumped up from the living room couches and headed out to unload the truck. Meanwhile, Carson and his risk committee had moved out to the front porch for a smoke break.

“Come on, Carson. You’re overthinking this. Try to have fun for once.”

Bryce, one of the risk committee members, did have a point. Carson had been gung-ho about his position of risk management chair since day one, and ten months of this had amounted to his sanity being slowly pulled apart at the seams. Along with his newfound cancer stick habit, Carson had developed a penchant for amphetamines. He wasn’t allowed to be legally drunk during big party nights, so he had begun to dabble with Adderall, and, more recently, cocaine. There was nothing like railing a line of Adderall before a party, as it felt great and kept him alert on the job. This came at the cost of his future heart health, and also made for an embarrassing moment when he sneezed blue clumps of mucus onto a girl he was hooking up with one time. Oh well, that was going to happen here and there.

“I’m just making sure we’ve accounted for everything,” replied Carson. “I’ve been hearing that the cops are tightening their shit up this semester. They’ve been working with Greek Council. We need to be even more careful now.”

This knowledge wasn’t new to Bryce.

“I know, man. I’m just giving you a hard time. Tonight’s going to be sick, so try to enjoy it, alright?”
“I’ll try.”

Their conversation was then interrupted by the sound of hip hop music blasting from an upstairs bedroom. The pregame had begun. As Bryce turned around and headed for the stairs, Carson stopped him.

“I’ve got to tell you something.”
“You trying to fuck me, bro?”
“Fuck off. This is serious. I’m…I’m running for president in November.”

Bryce nodded his head for a second, then looked up and smirked at Carson.

“I figured. At least you’ll be able to drink during party nights then.”

The two of them headed up the stairs, eager to check out what the night had in store.

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WJ Cope

He's the real reason people say "No one likes you when you're 23."

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