“Phi Psi Historical Archives” Leaked Amidst Campus Tensions Around Fraternities
Content Warning: this article contains racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, classist, and transphobic comments (including curse words and slurs) and alleged actions by members of the Phi Psi fraternity at Swarthmore, past and present, as recorded in the leaked “Phi Psi Historical Archives.” The leaked archives contain graphic depictions of sexual encounters, rape jokes, pornography, and photos and videos of urination and other disturbing acts. The final section of this article includes graphic personal accounts of harm featured on the anonymous Tumblr page Swat Fraternities Must Go. It also includes personal accounts of sexual violence and other forms of harm from current Swarthmore students, who have chosen to be named.
Editor’s Note: Voices has redacted the names, faces, and other identifiable information of all individuals referenced in the leaked archives, with the exception of public figures, famous persons, and popular memes (all non-Swarthmore students or alums). All redactions are noted using brackets and capital letters. Where an individual is named, the redactions read [NAME]. Where an individual’s position is referenced, the redactions read [POSITION]. When any other identifiable information is referenced, the redactions read [IDENTIFIABLE INFO]. Where the documents reference multiple individuals within the same sentence, Voices has used numbers to distinguish individuals from one another, according to the order in which names appear within the sentence (e.g. [NAME 1] and [NAME 2]). This numbering system starts over with the beginning of each new sentence, thus, an individual referred to as [NAME 1] in one sentence is the first person to be referenced in that sentence and is not necessarily the same individual referred to as [NAME 1] in any following sentence. The documents in the archives contain many links to videos, some of which are pornographic. The pornographic videos have been marked by Voices with [NSFW CONTENT] in attempt to warn readers. Any videos or GIFS linked in the documents that contain Swarthmore students or alums belonging to Phi Psi have been redacted using [VIDEO OF PHI PSI MEMBERS]. Some of the videos linked in the documents have since been removed. Voices has marked these with [BROKEN LINK]. Aside from these redactions and link warnings, all content in the following pages appears exactly as it does in the original documents.
Swat Fraternities Must Go: 2019
Last week an anonymous account emailed Citlali Pizarro ‘20, Editor-In-Chief of Voices and co-author of this article, with the subject line “Phi Psi.” The email contained a single link to a Google Drive folder, titled “Phi Psi Historical Archives.” In this large folder, “owned” by several past and present members of Phi Psi, were several smaller folders containing videos, photographs, and documents mostly from the Spring of 2013, colloquially known as the “Spring of Discontent,” and the following Fall of 2014. There was also a document from Fall of 2016. Below are some quotations and screenshots from various documents in the archives. At least two of the files were uploaded to the drive folder by current Phi Psi fraternity members. It is unclear whether other current members of the fraternity have access to these files or know that they exist. The rest of this article contains information on the contents of these “Phi Psi Historical Archives,” and testimonies from current Swarthmore students.
This leak occurred amidst recent intensified social scrutiny directed at both fraternities. Most recently, Phi Psi fraternity members made crude remarks and joked about sexual assault on Instagram. After this incident, some students created an anonymous Tumblr page titled “Why Swarthmore’s Fraternities Must Go,” where students can share personal experiences of harm at either of the fraternities, as well as visions for how the fraternity housing could be reimagined for a safer community. Since the page was launched, more than forty-five submissions have been posted, which have been shared widely on social media.
Many of the stories circulating on campus now suggest a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and elitist culture within fraternities. Isolated from any current events we know of, and using the fraternity’s own historical documentation, the leaked archives demonstrate bigotry, intolerance, and violence with historical roots in Phi Psi Fraternity at Swarthmore, dating back to at least 2013. The accounts and testimonies of harm within the fraternities from 2019 mirror the behavior that Phi Psi members documented in 2013 and 2014. Below are descriptions of what was found in the leaked archive folder, as well as testimonies from current and past students about Phi Psi.
Voices has chosen to include only some of the contents of the hundreds of documents in the archives in the body of this article; the quotes and screenshots below are just a sample. The full archives as written by at least one then-Phi Psi member, with all identifiable information redacted by Voices, with the exception of a file of sensitive photos taken without subjects’ consent and documents about the 2013 referendum that have already been made public, can be found here.
“Minutes,” Accounts Written by Phi Psi Members: 2013-2014
Editor’s Note: This section of the article contains only some quotations from documents titled “minutes” in the archives. The “minutes” documents in full, as written by at least one then-Phi Psi member, with all identifiable information redacted by Voices, can be found here.
The documents in the “minutes” subfolder of the archive are labeled by date (at least two entries are misdated; these are specified below) with the most recent entry being labeled September 9th, 2014. The “minutes” contain graphic descriptions, videos, and photographs of sexual encounters occuring in Phi Psi, as well as descriptions of the events of Phi Psi’s parties at the time. All “minutes” were written by at least one then-Phi Psi member.
One of the early “minutes” documents in the file begins “For all you newcomers out there, if you show these to anyone outside the frat you are dead to me. I am not trying to go full [NAME] and have my name making rounds on social media because I [IDENTIFIABLE INFO]. Leaks will probably get my room in Mertz burned down while I’m sleeping so just don’t do it (lookin right at you [NAME]).”
Voices can infer that the document labeled “Phi Psi Minutes 4.8.13 Part 1,” one day after the 2013 referendum to end fraternities on Swarthmore’s campus, is dated accurately because of the timestamps on videos linked in this document. Some of the comments in this document are quoted as follows: “First and foremost, fuck [NAME 1], [NAME 2], and fuck da haters […] [NAME] needed a reality check and goddam did she get one.”
In the same “minutes” entry, the author writes of a sexual encounter between a Phi Psi member and a girl attending the fraternity’s most recent party: “up to this point, I honestly thought that a male getting sexually assaulted was a hoax. A myth. A masquerade fashioned by elitist feminists to legitimize their own troubles. I just could not comprehend how a man could allow a woman to sexually conquer him without putting up a fight. This view, however, completely changed after this past Thursday. [NAME] was legitimately assaulted. Deflowered, if you will. Some broad rolled into Phi Psi and was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. She tickled his tits, groped his cock, and rubbed her wet vag all over his neatly pressed khakis. An all out estrogen mugging. I know exactly what you are thinking. Ahhh [NAME] that hilarious! It’s just too bad no one has video or photo evidence to back up your claims! Bam. False. Not only do I have a nice 26 second video of the molestation, but there are some glorious screen shots as well.” This paragraph was accompanied by a link to a video of a fraternity member kissing and touching a female party attendee, stopping periodically to show his middle finger to the camera. It appears that the female, her back to the camera, is unaware she is being filmed. Since Voices first obtained access to the leaked archives, this video has been removed from the internet. The link to video is followed by this comment, “Just look at those tits. Looks like someone stuffed a juicy watermelon inside of a tube sock. It’s basically a bounce house in that cleavage.”
In reference to the 2013 referendum to end fraternities on Swarthmore’s campus, the author of this same “minutes” entry writes, “we just took a nice sloppy poop on that referendum and we control the social scene. I feel like the only move at this point is manifest destiny. I mean am I wrong? Expand our territory and wipe out every other group in our path. First stop WRC next stop BCC […] Just taking over one building at a time until we possess enough building space to start our own milf sex trafficking ring. God that would be so hot. Anyways, it was so packed in Phi after the concert that I was legitimately scared of being accused of sexual harassment for rubbing up against so many tits. Every time I turned around I felt like I just whacked a girl in the cans. Sluts.” This same entry ends with, “Hopefully all of you are bottling up all the consent you have for this weekend. Should be a good one!”
Voices can infer that the “minutes” entry dated “4.22.13,” is labeled accurately, based on the date that the “genderfuck” party it references occurred, according to an article written that semester. The document reads, “On Saturday he decided to take one of these strolls and came across a chick passed out faced first in front of trotter. We weren’t given any real details as what occurred after he found her. I have no further comment on this story.”
The same “minutes” document also describes an individual throwing a fog machine across grass, and then reads, “Pure rage. Don’t worry [NAME] this isn’t the most tightly monitored night of the year. You can do what you please. Why don’t you go pee on the intercultural center while you are at it?”
This “minutes” entry also references Public Safety, noting that one individual refused to give Public Safety his ID. It reads, “Heard that’s the new thing. Refusing to give you name and they just give up. You won’t give me your ID? Oh well, I’m just going to go back to sharples and stare at fat dudes wearing manthongs and fishnets.” This document further reads, “The funniest part about this story is how the house smelled like we were hoarding 8 pounds of weed in the walls and pub safe didn’t do shit. Like they garner no respect from anyone. No one even stopped their illegal activities when they entered the house.”
The “minutes” documented labeled “5.19.13,” which Voices can infer to be dated accurately, based on the document’s references to 2013 Worthstock, contain several rape and sexual assault references, this time mentioning Delta Upsilon (DU), Swarthmore’s other fraternity. The “minutes” read, “Also how embarrassed would you be if you were in DU right now? Your parties suck, you have both a rape tunnel AND a rape attic (gotta choose one or the other).” And later, “One of the funniest stories from formal of course involved troll [NAME]. Hot dick over here just absolutely smacked [NAME]’s ass for no reason. It was a good windup too. He made solid contact and acted like it aint no thang […] It is a really good thing that [NAME] and her “Clery Clan” did not find out about this one.”
This same “minutes” entry contains the picture to the left, of the Intercultural Center (IC) door, with urine and a photoshopped image of a urinal on it. The Phoenix reported on this incident, but no perpetrators were identified at the time. The IC now has surveillance cameras aimed at its doors, due to this incident.
The following is a quote from the “minutes” entry labeled February 7th, 2013. This date appears to be incorrect, as the class years of members referenced in this particular document do not match up with the dates that they attended Swarthmore College. The entry references events that cannot have occurred earlier than the Fall of 2013.
The document begins, “Nothing better than basement takedowns and tiny Asian chicks getting pummeled with full sheet cakes bearing the one and only [NAME]’s face. You guys make the minutes, I just sit behind my laptop and craft offensive shit.” It continues, “[NAME] had some lady friend upstairs late night (May or may not have a different skin color). Well [NAME 1] and [NAME 2] (mainly [NAME 1]) wanted a peak. After perfuse banging on the door [NAME 1] finally screams, ‘[NAME 2] WANTS TO SEE SOME BLACK NIPS!!!’”
The photo to the right is a screenshot from a “minutes” document labeled “3.24.13 Minutes,” containing a description of an alleged sexual encounter occurring between two individuals at Paces. Upon investigation, based on the timestamps of linked images and videos in this document, it appears this entry was actually written in 2014.
In an April 17th, 2019 statement to Voices on behalf of the fraternity, Phi Psi wrote, “Our current brothers were in high school and middle school at the time of these unofficial minutes. We unequivocally condemn and reject the obscene and hurtful remarks made in these documents. We are thankful for the extensive discussion and exceptional dialogue between the Swarthmore Administration and other student groups that has led to a transformation of the fraternity in recent years.”
Photographs and Videos: 2013-2014
Included in the archives are two folders labeled “phi psi frat JPEGS” and “Pictures.” Both folders contain over eighty photographs, mostly of Phi Psi members at parties. They also contain candid photographs and videos of members kissing, groping, and touching women. We can infer that the women were not aware that these photos were being taken, due to the candid and intimate nature of the images, as well as the fact that many had their backs turned to the camera. To protect the women in these photos, we are not sharing any of them.
In addition to the photographs, there are several video files in the historical archive, mostly depicting “pledge tasks.” One video in particular, inserted below, labeled “referendum chalk” depicts an unidentified Phi Psi member urinating on a chalking advertising the 2013 referendum to end fraternities.
“Phi Psi History,” in Their Own Words: 2014
Editor’s Note: This section of the article contains only some quotations from documents in folders labeled “Phi Psi History” in the archives. These documents in full, as written by at least one then-Phi Psi member, with all identifiable information redacted by Voices, can be found here.
A document in the archives titled “Phi Psi History Original Doc” lists notable alums of Phi Psi Swarthmore.
Other information from a similar document, titled “Phi Psi History Complete” includes the following “trivia” facts: “5. What was the only Phi Psi president to be [IDENTIFIABLE INFO]? [NAME]. 6. And why was he [IDENTIFIABLE INFO]? He stole a tap from Bryn Mawr, argued with the police and was bailed out with Phi Psi money.” “26. What are [NAME]’s nicknames? [NAME 1], [NAME 2] 27. How did she get those nicknames? [NAME]- she likes rough, rough sex. [NAME 1]- she texted [NAME 2] after a night of said rough sex.”
“Philly Scavenger Hunt:” 2010, 2012-2016
Editor’s Note: This section of the article contains only some quotations from documents in folders labeled “Philly Scavenger Hunt” in the archives. These documents in full, as written by at least one then-Phi Psi member, with all identifiable information redacted by Voices, can be found here.
The archives contain documents for a “Philly scavenger hunt,” dated 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016. They contained “tasks” for new pledge classes to perform; some repeated from year to year, with names of new pledges replacing the old ones. The documents’ stated “rules” require that each task be recorded through photo or video, and warned all members “not to get arrested.” The documents include group and individual tasks for pledges to complete.
In 2010, a task read “Must get kissed by a white girl. On lips. She must be 18+.” This task was not repeated in following years.
Included in the repeated tasks as recently as 2016 were “Go to a women’s clothing store and try on a couple outfits. Must be video evidence of store employee helping you out” as well as “[NAME] get down in front of Doggie Style (114 13 th Street) and assume the doggie style position. [NAME 1], hump [NAME 2] for a full minute, while moaning and screaming.” Also repeated was the task “Go to an adult gift and purchase a nice dildo. Get a picture of 2 hot girls kissing you on the cheek. The girls must be holding the dildo while in the picture.”
Other 2016 individual tasks required members to engage with sexual content. One reads, “Bring your largest pair of headphones with you (Example: [NAME]), go to the closest Starbucks, and blast porn from your phone. Pretend as if you think your headphones are plugged in and that you are totally oblivious. You have to sit there for at least a minute.”
To the right is a screenshot of the “Philly Scavenger Hunt Tasks” document for the pledge class of 2016, some of whom are current Phi Psi juniors.
In its written statement to Voices, on behalf of the fraternity, Phi Psi confirmed that it regularly holds an event in Philadelphia for its members. It is unclear whether this Philadelphia scavenger hunt is the event to which it is referring. Phi Psi wrote, “We also teach our brothers about the history of the fraternity and coordinate a Philadelphia event where all brothers explore the city and meet with Philadelphia-based alums. All of these components provide our new brothers with the tools to be upstanding members of our community and active facilitators of safe social spaces.”
Michael Girardi ‘13, previous president of Phi Psi, wrote in a statement to Voices “one of the main reasons I joined Phi Psi was because there was no hazing. I was never forced to do anything I did not want to do, peer-pressured to do anything I did not want to do, nor did I ask anybody else to do the same.”
Swarthmore College officially prohibits hazing in any form, in accordance with the recent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Timothy J Piazza Anti-hazing Law, Act 80 of 2018. The College policy states, “Hazing includes, but is not limited to, any behavior and/or acts of servitude that is designed or intended to humiliate, degrade, embarrass, harass, or ridicule an individual, or that which a reasonable person would deem harmful or potentially harmful to an individual’s physical, emotional, or psychological well-being, as an actual or perceived condition of new or continued affiliation with any organization, and/or team.” Examples of hazing, as stated in the official College policy, include, but are not limited to, “asking members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire, activities with degrading, crude, or humiliating acts, verbal abuse, and sexual simulations.”
The College’s Biannual Hazing Report, published on January 15, 2019, found four reported incidents of hazing, the most recent being in February of 2016. In none of these instances did the adjudication process find participants responsible for violating the hazing policy, though some instances found violations of Alcohol and Social Events Management policies. It found no reports of hazing in 2014 or 2015. The report only reflects reported instances of hazing, “to the extent that the institution has retained information about these violation(s).”
Interviews with community members who have attended fraternity parties and have friends in the fraternities suggested that Phi Psi may actively participate in hazing. Paul Buchanan ‘21, who infrequently attends Phi Psi parties, recalls stories from his former roommate, who was pledging at the time. In an interview with Voices he said, “during the rushing process, [my roommate] would come back to the room like blind drunk and tell me stuff about how they kind of forced him to drink, they sent them into an air duct I think and sat in there and drank in there. They put chili powder in their mouths, I think. There was one time when my roommate and his friends were not doing well after an event, and I was really worried so I had to help take care of them.”
Yasmeen Namazie ‘19, who regularly attended parties at both fraternities during her first three years at Swarthmore, said to Voices, “I know there’s excessive consumption of alcohol and if you [a fraternity pledge] opt out to consume alcohol, they make this disgusting drink of weird substances that are not alcohol, but will probably make you vomit. Instead of drinking copious amounts of alcohol, they’ll make some weird drink of hot sauce and other weird substances.”
Phi Psi’s Public Anti-Violence Advocacy: 2013-2015
Before, after, and at the same time as the historical archive was being kept, Phi Psi was partnering with women on campus in anti-violence work, and was publicly declaring its commitment to eradicating sexism, homophobia, and racism within the organization.
Girardi wrote, of anti-Greek activism at the time, “[it] was long overdue, not in the sense that I agree with the idea of abolishing fraternities, but definitely in the sense that there were problems that – in my opinion, both fraternity houses needed to address. It was helpful for the brothers to get a sense of how their peers viewed them and to bring to light things that they did not know or, in some cases, chose not to know. I am thankful for the activism, truly, but also satisfied with the results of the referendum.”
Both fraternities collaborated on a project in March of 2012, preceding the dates of many files in the leaked archives, called the Swarthmore Clothesline Project, started by the Sexual Misconduct and Resources Team (SMART). This project served to raise awareness about assault, rape, domestic abuse, and other forms of gender-based violence by inviting students, faculty, and staff to design t-shirts that were later hung on a clothesline on Parrish Beach. Phi Psi also hosted an event called The Power of Words, where members handed out badges and stickers explaining the ways in which language can perpetuate violence. One member of Phi Psi is quoted in a Phoenix article as saying, “These badges are regular name tag stickers, but will have slogans underscoring the importance of watching what you say. [...] For instance one badge will pledge ‘Say what you MEAN and MEAN what you say.’” Both fraternities also distributed white ribbons for people to wear identifying themselves as supporters of survivors.
In the spring of 2012, it became public knowledge that Phi Psi released bids made out of a collage of naked women. In a letter to the Phoenix in October of 2013 (before many of the “minutes” entries in the archives were dated), then-president Zach Schaffer ‘14 and co-president Ishaan Sutaria ’14 of Phi Psi wrote, “The heteronormativity and objectification of women that was criticized is not consistent with Phi Psi’s values, and we will work actively to eradicate sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination not only in our house, but also throughout campus.”
In a Phoenix article dated March 28th, 2013, Schaffer ‘14 discussed the progress he felt was being made in Greek Life. He said, “we have definitely made progress in identifying the key issues and beginning to formulate solutions.” He continued, “The Greek groups on campus will continue to work together with the leaders of the referendum to figure out how we should proceed going forward.” This statement was made prior to the dates of the April and May “minutes” entries, referenced above, containing crude comments, rape jokes, photos of urine and a urinal on the IC door, and comments about taking over the WRC and BCC to “manifest destiny” and “start a milf sex trafficking ring.”
In another Phoenix article dated March 5th, 2015, Jason Hua ’15, a member of Phi Psi at the time, suggested that new pledges would be educated about the events of the Spring of 2013. The article reads, “Since then, [Hua] and another Phi Psi member have told the events of the spring and the referendum to new pledges ‘as an introduction to a workshop to teach them how to be responsible members of the campus community in their new roles as fraternity brothers.’” No educational information about “responsibility” or about the referendum was included in the “Phi Psi History” section of the archive.
In 2017, Raven Bennett ‘17, a Title IX activist, created the Fraternity Mentorship program to prevent sexual violence. According to a Swarthmore College article at the time, “she got the idea from past Phi Psi president Conor Clark ‘16.” Bennett also produced a video titled “It’s On Us,” heavily featuring a former Phi Psi president speaking out against sexual assault. This video was shown at the Class of 2021 Orientation events and is often cited to promote the idea that fraternity members support Title IX advocacy.
In its statement to Voices on behalf of the fraternity, Phi Psi wrote, “Former President Conor Clark ‘16 and former student Raven Bennett ‘17 were instrumental in changing the culture of Phi Psi through the ‘It’s On Us’ video and the Fraternity Mentorship Program. Today, we remain an open social space to everyone in the community, participate in numerous Title IX workshops, attend Public Safety meetings, and host fundraisers as conscious members of the campus community. We commit to being an open and safe space for anyone in the community to attend social events. We want to reaffirm our commitment to these causes and to continue developing a culture of accountability and inclusion. We are proud of who we are today, a diverse group of 59 brothers who are members of the community like everyone else.”
On Saturday, March 30th, 2019, Phi Psi hosted a fundraiser for Project HOME, a women’s shelter in Philadelphia. Sarah Leonard ‘21, who regularly attends Phi Psi parties, commented, “I get that they’re a fraternity so they’re going to do something charitable, but don’t do battered women. [...] Specifically picking a battered women’s shelter is like saving face, performative, and they are giving that money to that shelter, it’s real, but do you think that makes you look better? Do you think that balances it out, like you hurt some women but you help some women? I wish the frats did less trying to protect their image and pretend they’re perfect and more admitting they did things wrong and kicking out members.”
Harm in the Fraternities, Testimonies from Current Students: 2019
Since the creation of the Why Swarthmore’s Fraternities Must Go Tumblr page, dozens of stories of harm in both fraternities have been anonymously shared. Although the stories do not specify the fraternity at which they took place, Namazie confirmed that at least one of the stories on the Tumblr page took place in the Phi Psi fraternity house.
Namazie expressed appreciation for this Tumblr page in an interview with Voices. She said, “I partook in advertising it and trying to make it more well-known. I think that one of the more striking pieces of feedback that I’ve gotten is that it is a platform in which people can reclaim some of their stories but then also distance themselves from it. I think it’s really important to have that experience of making it known that this is something that you’ve experienced, but then also the anonymity of it makes it so that your name and your identity isn’t so implicated and intertwined with the act of violence. It also has the resources there for survivors and invites the fraternity members to partake in this movement, so I think it’s really well-done.” She also noted that the conversations around harm in the fraternities did not start with this Tumblr page. She said, “the thing is, we aren’t even starting this conversation. This has been ongoing. This is not the first time where people have been publicly criticizing and giving feedback to the frats. I think now it’s just reaching a moment where action is necessary and conversation is starting to lose a lot of its significance.”
Namazie told Voices that she utilized the Tumblr page to tell one of her own stories of harm in the fraternities. She divulged to Voices and posted on the Tumblr page that she was assaulted in one of the upstairs rooms in the Phi Psi fraternity house, during her freshman year. Namazie is concerned that people will dismiss anonymous stories like hers as having happened only in the past, during Spring of 2013. She said, “I’m sure you’ve heard about the multiple assaults that have happened in the upper room [in Phi Psi]. I posted a story on the page. It was a frat dude taking me up there. I was kind of in and out of remembrance in this scenario, but I was sexually assaulted in the top room there. I definitely want people to know. Because people say ‘oh this did happen, but it’s kind of ambiguous if the person is still here.’ But this was happening my freshman year. And I talked to another woman who lived on my hall freshman year and it happened to her, too. […] This is not outdated by any means.” She said of her decision to speak up about this incident, “Hearing about other people that experience the same thing, it’s like my silence can only preserve myself to a certain extent. After a while, other women have also experienced this. It’s probably time to speak up and say, ‘hey, this stuff is real.’ Once I talked to one of my friends on my hall, she said ‘that same thing happened to me.’ With the same dude, even.”
In an interview with Voices, Leonard also suggested that Phi Psi members currently go in and out of private spaces in the Phi Psi fraternity house during parties, like a private room known colloquially as “the sanctum,” despite being told not to. She said, “[Phi Psi members] have a really hard time following rules [… like] don't go in and out of the sanctum.” Roberto Jimenez ‘19 told Voices about being invited into the “sanctum” last year. He said, “The place downstairs behind the bar? Yeah, I’ve been there. [...] The entrance to the bar was open, and the fraternity members were pouring drinks, and people were also helping themselves. So I think my friend and I were pouring beers and one of the guys said, ‘do you want to come back here?’ and we walked back. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.” He said, “It was just fraternity brothers and some girls. I think it was last spring.”
Cam Ricciardi ‘19 has also been inside the “sanctum.” He wrote to Voices, “I went into the sanctum one time a couple of months ago on a Thursday night, because no one was down there and I was curious. It’s the room behind the bar downstairs. It’s a pretty big room with a few couches and chairs, and a big fridge. There wasn’t anything really interesting in there. I remember seeing a Phi Psi group photo from a few years ago.”
One recurring theme from the archives is sharing private sexual interactions, from writing about them in “minutes” notes to taking nonconsensual photographs and videos of women engaging in sexual acts with fraternity members. This theme is mirrored in the anonymous Tumblr submissions. One anonymous submission from the page reads “a friend of mine made out with a Black student while at the frat. A fraternity member videotaped her, texted it to people, and told her ‘that’s really low of you.’” Many other accounts from the website detail fraternity members joking about women’s bodies and making objectifying and demeaning comments.
Namazie told Voices about a similar instance involving a Phi Psi fraternity member taking a video of a woman engaging in a sexual act without her consent. This happened during Namazie’s freshman year. She said, “I remember there was a video circulating of one girl who was giving head to this one Phi Psi member. He filmed it as she was giving him head, and then sent it to his friends. [...] I was sitting next to a guy who had [the video] up on his phone and I peered over at it. I don’t remember if there was any conversation about it. I don’t know if he somehow made amends for what he did. But that certainly did happen. This individual [who was filmed] did not want to report, because she knew it would be re-traumatizing and embarrassing.”
On the subject of fraternity members making crude comments about women’s bodies, Namazie said, “I also just think in general discussing women in those terms, reducing them to their bodies, I’ve heard that in their language a lot.” Leonard made similar statements, saying, “It can be pretty vicious, the way they speak about women. […] A general distatestful disdain for women, they just talk about them in a rude way.”
Buchanan retold a story of a white Phi Psi member debating with Buchanan, who is Black, about when it is acceptable to say the n-word. Buchanan recalled that the next week this same member “came up and said ‘hey,’ and tried to give my friend a hug, and she put her hands up between them and he hugged her anyway. Then he walked over to me and tried to give me a hug and I said ‘no,’ and he gave me a hug anyway. Then he kept stressing that he’s not racist, we’ve never heard him say the n-word, etcetera.”
The archives also divulge crude remarks and jokes about anti-frat and anti-violence activists and movements on campus at the time. For example, in the April 8th, 2013 “minutes” document referenced above, the author writes, “we just took a big sloppy poop on that referendum,” in reference to anti-frat activism at the time. Also referenced above is a video of a Phi Psi member peeing on a chalking advertising this anti-frat referendum. Leonard commented “frat members complain about O4S [Organizing for Survivors] and the women who speak up against the frats in a negative way.” She also recalled, “yesterday [Saturday, April 13th], at the frat, I saw people had written on the walls ‘down with the frats’ in quotes. Then, next to it, ‘this is just the beginning.’ That made me uncomfortable but not uncomfortable enough to leave.”
The archives also reveal homophobia. The Tumblr reiterates this intolerant culture, with submissions like “I was dancing with my girlfriend at a frat party and was violently shoved by a man at the party after being hit on and politely letting him know I wasn’t interested (not sure if he was a member of the frat). He said something about being ‘too gay’ to be there.”
Notably, there are many comments making light of sexual violence in the archives. The archives suggest that these jokes have been made privately for years; recently, similar jokes were made publicly on Instagram. Anonymous submissions to the Tumblr page reiterate that fraternity members often joke about sexual assault, such as when fraternity members quoted Brett Kavanaugh chanting “I liked beer, I still like beer.” More submissions include accounts of fraternity members “making rape threats and other vulgar comments.” According to the accounts on the Tumblr page, fraternity members have cursed out women who spoke up about their friends being groped and dismissed women’s genuine concerns about sexual violence.
Leonard notes a current culture of wealth and privilege in the fraternities. She said in an interview with Voices, “They talk about money a lot – who’s making how much at what internship this summer, who got it from whose dad. I remember one time someone’s dad came for the weekend and they were all like ‘Oh we really want to play drinking games with him because he’s so rich, let’s all network with him.’ It’s a little consortium where they’re all eyes on the prize, which is money and power.” She went on, “the criticism that frats take the richest, most powerful men on campus and put them in a little group is true.”
Namazie references what she feels to be a culture devoid of conversations around consent, stating, “I think essentially every single time there has been some sort of concerning situation that arose when I was at the frats, whether it be for myself or for another individual. Just the lack of consent all around, whether it be just like touching or dancing, or any sort of sensual contact, there is really no conversation around consent in those spaces.”
In statement to Voices on behalf of the fraternity, Phi Psi wrote, “We give bids to everyone who expresses interest in joining the fraternity and is in good standing with the College. Our process for joining the fraternity consists of Title IX training, mindfulness training with Josh Ellow, bystander intervention and masculinity workshops, and requirements to become host trained and Swat Team trained. We go above and beyond the basic community education that the average Swarthmore student receives because we are fully aware of our heightened responsibilities.”
Voices reached out to several current Phi Psi fraternity members who did not respond to individual requests for comment.
Voices also reached out to several Swarthmore Phi Psi alums who were named in the archives who did not respond to requests for comment.