XΘX sued, DEMANDS made -- this is the fountain hopper view online

THE FOUNTAIN HOPPER

Twenty-Ninth Edition: Monday, March 28th, 2016
Read time: Approx 6 minutes

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IN THIS EDITION:


WHAT WE'RE READING, including the DEMANDS

EXCLUSIVE: STANFORD, XΘX, STUDENTS, ADMINISTRATORS SUED BY THETA CHI NATIONAL FRATERNITY OVER TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT AMIDST ANAL FLORA PERFORMANCES

ONE-CLICK SURVEY
 
We're glad you're with us.

WHAT WE'RE READING

 
In a rare affirmation that muckraking actually has the power to change things for the better, Fred Groce resigned from his $147k CEO position at SSE (original story here, resignation letter here).  According to his LinkedIn profile, Groce is now (somehow) employed as an analyst at Storm Ventures.

Stanford admitted 4.69% of applicants to the class of 2020, a drop from last year's 5.05%. If your self-esteem has been unusually high as of late, feel free to peruse College Confidential's circle-jerk of tremendously overqualified yet fundamentally clueless admits here.

Stanford celebrity blogster Cath in College wrote up a pretty excellent piece detailing Stanford’s “lack of intellectual vitality” in the humanities -- it's totally worth the read.
 
THE DEMANDS
 
Stanford activist group “Who’s Teaching Us” (WTU) published a list of “DEMANDS”, including but not limited to:
  • banning Wells Fargo from campus (we called the Wells press people and they got back to us with this)
  • instituting a system for reporting and tracking microaggressions by faculty
  • requiring that Stanford’s next President and Provost “break both the legacy of white leadership and cisgender male leadership”
  • “reevaluat[ing] and reform[ing] SLE”
  • requiring “complete comprehensive identity and cultural humility training” for ResEd staff

ICYMI: Stanford Prez Hennessy and Provost Etchemendy attempted to start a "serious campus conversation" about Stanford's alcohol policy [Review, Stanford News, Daily]. In fact, their proposal (or was it a threat?) to ban alcohol in undergrad dorms was so outlandishly unpopular (who'd have thought?) that a quarter of Stanford's student body signed a [now closed] petition against the measure in just a little over three hours. 
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STANFORD, XΘX, STUDENTS, ADMINISTRATORS SUED BY THETA CHI NATIONAL FRAT AMID TRADEMARK VIOLATIONS; ANAL FLORA


~~A FOHO EXCLUSIVE~~

TL; DR -- Theta Chi (the national frat) really, really doesn't like Stanford's XΘX because they think that: 
1) they're sort of pretending to be ΘX and violating their trademarks, and 
2) their expressions of "creativity" are kind of way too intense for the “gentlemen of Theta Chi

 
Theta Chi (ΘX), the national fraternity, has filed a 163-page federal lawsuit against Stanford University, the Alumni Association of the Chi Theta Chi house, and yet-unnamed University administrators and Stanford students. The (wonderfully colorful) federal complaint details a long-running dispute between the national ΘX umbrella and the Stanford house formerly known as Chi Theta Chi (or XΘX, or ex theta-chi), and alleges trademark infringement, breach of settlement and deceptive business practices.

It’s a really cool lawsuit.



As always with really cool lawsuits, it is best consumed in its entirety, so we’ve thrown it online for your perusal as a pdf and on scribd.

What follows is FoHo's synopsis of the case.

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STANFORD HISTORY TIME
(Or, per the suit: "CHI THETA CHI: AN IMPOSTER ORGANIZATION IS BORN")
 
ΘX is a national frat. Once upon a time, it had a Stanford chapter, which was dissolved in the 80s due to "among other things, lack of membership and improper conduct by members of the house." 

At around the same time, several members of soon to be dissolved ΘX created "a competing group identifying itself as the 'Ex-Theta Chi's' or 'X-Theta Chi's' - denoted symbolically as 'X-ΘX' and by name as 'Chi Theta Chi.'" 

Over the years, Stanford’s XΘX community became known for taking the stereotype of Californian alternative hippy college kids to its delicious extreme. The house has long been run as a co-op and calls itself home to a strong percentage of the student body who make it their mission to "keep Stanford weird", which is lovely.

XΘX continued its existence as one of only two independently owned student houses on Stanford campus (Sigma Chi is the other) until 2012, when Stanford refused to renew XΘX's lease on the building and "transition[ed] the house to University management" amidst widespread student body and alumni protest. At the time, R&DE execs wrote that “The University... remain[s] committed to working closely with residents] to preserve as much of the traditional Chi Theta Chi experience as possible”.

A short time after the transition, the University started referring to XΘX as 576 Alvarado Row [Daily OpEd].


THE LAWSUIT
 
The federal lawsuit details four years of negotiation between ΘX and Stanford about XΘX’s continued use of its name. On several occasions, ΘX demanded Stanford cease and desist calling the house at 576 Alvarado XΘX, as well as "sanitiz[e] its websites and social media... [and] adequately polic[e] its print and online news outlets to eliminate references to Chi Theta Chi," which is super cute (and should give you some indication of The Daily's very cozy relationship with University administrators.)

Stanford went through the motions of giving a fuck, but never quite gave enough of a fuck to succumb to ΘX’s demands.

The suit details numerous conference calls, legal demands and settlement agreements aimed at resolving ΘX’s concerns, but Stanford never "reported back to Theta Chi on steps being taken to address and remediate the violations". (there's something comforting in the fact that Stanford dicks around with lawyers just as much as it dicks around with the student body -- ed)

The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, however, appears to be the Theta Chi Thursday Anal Flora Collective Presentations." 

For the uninitiated, we turn to the federal court filings: "The Theta Chi Thursday Anal Flora Collective Presentations featured acts, skits, monologues involving physical, emotional and psychological violent and abusive relationships, "female-personating drag performers," parodies about alcohol and substance abuse, songs about "farting on faces, pillows, and bloody revenge- killing," and deviant, medically unsafe and unhygienic group sexual activities."

Suffice to say, the upstanding gentlemen of Theta Chi really, really don’t like Anal Flora and do not particularly appreciate Anal Flora performing in a house that someone might think is affiliated to them.



The suit quotes this November 2015 Stanford Arts Review article: "This is Anal Flora and it would be nothing without the queer, the sexual and the abject. And what a perfect visual representation of the night than people crawling on all fours, face in each other's asses, centipeding around the room to a stunned crowd. Pink eye, fluids, eating people out — no one was ready for it but that's exactly what we came for, isn't it?"
 
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The suit names Stanford, Stanford's Board, the XΘX Alumni Association, its head (Thomas Allison), and "any and all University officials, administrators, or employees who engaged in, aided, encouraged, facilitated, or conspired to commit the misconduct alleged herein".

Somewhat concerningly, the suit also names "certain members of Chi Theta Chi [who] reside and from January 2013 to present, have resided, in the House and/or served as management or leadership for the Association" as (yet unidentified) parties in the lawsuit -- meaning that XΘX’s student staff are also now legally involved in a federal lawsuit. Which sucks.

The take-home from the story is somewhat nuanced. On the one hand, the University has been doing the residents of XΘX a favor by insulating them from ΘX's legal pressure. On the other, pissing off lawyers to the point where they file federal suit agains the University and its students is probably not ideal. FoHo's legal friends tell us it's unlikely ΘX will settle, considering the amount of work that went into the federal complaint and the inconvenient fact that they're actually suing for breach of a (previous) settlement agreement. Federal complaints take forever to wind through the courts, so it's unlikely much will happen till next academic year.

In yet another poignant example of Stanford’s “commitment to transparency”, University Communications did not respond to requests for comment, and neither did Stanford’s Office of General Counsel. The Stanford Board of Trustees declined to comment through their secretary. Christopher Oprison, ΘX’s lawyer, told FoHo that ΘX “believe[s] the Complaint speaks for itself”. XΘX’s student staff declined numerous requests for comment, as did members of the Anal Flora collective.
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