The theme of ATO’s annual “Ménage à Tau” party was exactly what it sounded like — a play on the French phrase
ménage à trois, meaning threesome. Each fraternity brother would invite two dates, and each date would come wearing nothing but lingerie.
An article on BroBible.com called Ménage à Tau one of the “Top 10 college parties in the nation.”
Senior Lizzy DeHaven went to the party last year with her boyfriend, a senior in ATO.
“When I first heard about it I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” DeHaven said. “Then it became this big fun thing.”
The idea of two dates made sense to DeHaven. A brother could invite his girlfriend, who could then invite one of her own friends. An invite to Ménage à Tau became a symbol of status, Paslaski said.
“It’s not like we were begging girls,” Paslaski said. “Girls would go out of their way to come to Ménage.”
Each ATO brother would serenade the girls he wanted to invite. Girls would buy lingerie, and they always felt like they had to be in their best shape, DeHaven said. Dieting before Ménage was common, she said.
Stretch Hummer limos would pick up each date on the night of the party, Paslaski said, and the brothers would buy large quantities of expensive alcohol — no beer or Karkov, just the fancy stuff, like champagne and Grey Goose.
“If you’re drinking heavily and girls are in lingerie, something’s going to happen,”
At last year’s Ménage, something did happen. Word quickly spread that a girl had been sexually assaulted,
Within 24 hours, Vechiola and the Judicial Board had kicked the brother out of ATO, Vechiola said.
“They were shocked that this guy did this,” DeHaven said. “You could just tell they were all sad it happened.”
The woman never reported the incident to the Office of Student Ethics, Paslaski said. But the University acknowledged that it found out about both the theme of the party and the alleged rape, Kish said. The University heard about the party theme through an email from an IU employee but did not specify how it found out about the sexual assault.
ATO’s disciplinary probation was extended until May 31, 2015, for alcohol-related violations. The ATO executive board banned the party for good.
Paslaski was a pledge at the time, so he didn’t attend Ménage as a member. He said he hated being associated with the theme, and agreed wholeheartedly the chapter needed to put a stop to it.
Although the alleged sexual assault involved an individual member, Schmeckebier said it was a wake up call for the entire chapter.
“ATO shares some responsibility for creating an environment where that can happen,” Schmeckebier said.
Ménage was extreme, but Paslaski said it is not the only fraternity party on campus that promotes a sex-related theme or encourages women to wear revealing clothing. What about Roman Orgy? Office Hoes and CEOs? Workout Bros and Yoga Hoes?
“Our greek system has too many themes that call girls whores and sluts,” Vechiola said.
Paslaski’s former human sexuality professor Debby Herbenick invited the fraternity president to speak on a panel about sexual assault to a class of high school students at Bloomington High School North on Thursday morning.
With prom and the Little 500 approaching, Paslaski talked to students about staying in groups, watching how much they drink and knowing when they need to intervene at a party.
“If you see a girl who’s clearly too drunk, or if you see a guy who’s being creepy with a girl, it is your job to step in and do something,” Paslaski told the students.
He told them about a night when one of his female friends called him from a bar in Bloomington, asking for help. She said she felt threatened by a man who seemed to be putting pills in her drink, Paslaski said. Paslaski picked her up and brought her home.
The ATO president is used to being protective of women — he has been looking out for his three younger sisters his whole life. Now he’s on the other side, keeping an eye on his brothers.