Students allege assault during ‘goldfish party’

by Jake Hawkins

A reported event on the hall of Transylvania University’s Kappa Alpha Order last weekend has resulted in a campus investigation into allegations by three female students who claim they were assaulted while trying to stop fraternity members from drinking live goldfish. Additionally, one of the three has left campus, saying she feared for her safety.

The students, sophomore Trista Taboada, who is now at her home in Atlanta, senior Sara Escobedo and first-year Sandi Tyrie, claim they went to the Kappa Alpha hall to try to stop what they said is an annual tradition among the fraternity’s members and their friends. With money in hand, they said they hoped to buy at least some of the reported 600 goldfish and find them homes.

“An altercation took place between the three of them and some other guys of the (Kappa Alpha) fraternity, and the details of that are still being worked out,” said Mike Vetter, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “I would say that, in terms of what the women have told me, certainly there was some disorderly conduct.”

No charges have been filed in the case but both the dean of students and the Department of Public Safety are investigating the issue, according to Director of Public Safety Richard Cook. Junior Anderson Salinas, Kappa Alpha chapter president, declined to comment.

The three students say that the event escalated when Kappa Alpha members surrounded them, shouted profanities and called them derogatory names. Escobedo claims that a member of the fraternity then “roughly” grabbed her hand. In return, she splashed water in the face of her alleged attacker, who then poured beer and crushed the can over her head.

Additionally, Escobedo asserts that a fraternity member grabbed Taboada, restrained her, spat in her face and called her obscenities.

After this, Tyrie alleges that fraternity members threw punches at the girl, but she was unsure if the punches hit anyone.

“We ran and we were being followed. … One of the girls pulled the fire alarm to try and get a crowd out,” Tyrie said.

After running across Back Circle, the students went to DPS to report the incident. However, it did not appear on the campus crime log.

“DPS seemed incredulous and were more upset at us for pulling the fire alarm,” Escobedo said. “I’m not sorry for pulling it. We needed to escape and felt unsafe.”

Cook said that he couldn’t elaborate on details of the incident, and requests to review the written report were denied.

“(The incident is) being sorted out in our student conduct system and we’re exploring then the possible violation of the fraternity hosting this event,” said Vetter. “Neither the men nor the women wanted to file any charges.”

“The fraternity president (Salinas) came to see me,” said Vetter. “He’s concerned that (Escobedo, Tyrie and Taboada) were uninvited and came in and were making a scene at their event as well and posted some statements that were not true on Facebook.”

“If we feel like the punishment isn’t just enough for the guys that were involved with this, then we might actually end up taking it further,” said Escobedo.

Senior Devin Zimmer was working at a local PetSmart when she identified a member of Transy’s Kappa Alpha chapter purchasing the fish.

Zimmer claims that she asked the student if the fish were for the event.

“He told me no. … My manager said, ‘Go ahead and sell them to them,’ ” said Zimmer. “Had he told me they were for the event, I would not have sold them the goldfish.”

According to Zimmer, PetSmart policy allows any associate to refuse a sell if he or she believes the animals would be neglected.


5 Responses to Students allege assault during ‘goldfish party’

  1. Nadia Smith says:

    I really wish there was time left to get an update on this story. I hope you guys follow up next year and talk about whether or not this alleged tradition continues and if any disciplinary action is ever taken.

  2. R.Rauh says:

    This article should not have printed. I agree that the events that occurred were not handled properly in any way, shape, or form, and that the fraternity in question should receive a reprimand from the University, BUT this article was written very poorly and extremely unprofessionally. This article is slanderous and I would not be surprised if members of the fraternity in question (notice I am not using the actual name on purpose) used this article to negotiate having whatever punishment they receive lessened.

    • EmH says:

      It absolutely should have been published. If this happened, it happened, and everyone has the right to know about it, especially since criminal behavior occurred amongst the fraternity. Things like this happen a lot at fraternities, and it does no good to hush it up and let the behavior continue.

  3. MmfR says:

    If they want to eat golfish, let them eat golfish. The girl was beyond ignorant to think that anything but an altercation would take place by entering this environment with money to repurchase the goldfish to find them “homes”. Give me a break!

    • JJG says:

      “The girl was beyond ignorant to think that anything but an altercation would take place?” You’re kidding, right? No one should expect violence in any situation and your comment only enables people to make bad decisions instead of working it out like rational people.

      The pet store obviously had a problem with the boys eating goldfish and they lied about what they were doing, proving that they knew it was wrong.

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