By some accounts, a party at the Tiger Inn last month got out of control.
An intoxicated first-year female student at Princeton University allegedly began performing oral sex on a senior on the dance floor at the private eating club, and someone allegedly snapped a photo of the act.
An officer of the private eating club later allegedly distributed the photo to Tiger Inn members via email, some students claim.
Princeton University is aware of the allegations and is looking into the matter, a spokesman told Planet Princeton yesterday after a reporter contacted the school about the claims.
The Princeton Police Department is aware of the allegations after bring contacted by the Planet Princeton reporter, and is consulting with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office on the matter.
Hap Cooper, the president of the alumni board of governors for the Tiger Inn, told Planet Princeton today that the Tiger Inn code of conduct expressly prohibits sexual activity of any kind in all public areas of the club.
“I am aware of the incident and we are cooperating with the University investigation,” Cooper told Planet Princeton in an email. “We cannot comment in further detail while the investigation is ongoing.”
The president of the Tiger Inn has not responded to an email seeking comment about the allegations.
Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter said no victim or witness has come forward to the police regarding the allegations so far. Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Princeton Police Detective Bureau at (609) 921-2100, he said. All tips will remain confidential.
Under New Jersey law, the distribution of a photo of a sex act without the person’s consent is a criminal offense. A person commits a crime in the third degree if the person photographs, films, videotapes, records, or otherwise reproduces in any manner the image of another person whose intimate parts are exposed or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact without that person’s consent, and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.
It is also a third degree crime to disclose any photograph, film, videotape, recording or any other reproduction of the image of another person whose intimate parts are exposed, or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact, unless that person has consented to such disclosure, regardless of whether the image was made legally.
This incident is not the first time scandal has surrounded the Tiger Inn, a private eating club known for partying and heavy drinking that has often been called Princeton’s “animal house.”
The club, located in a classic Tudor building on Prospect Avenue, has just under 200 members. Founded in 1890, it is one of 11 active eating clubs at Princeton and is the third oldest eating club at the school. Often called “T.I.” or “The Glorious Tiger Inn,” the club’s unofficial motto is, “Always in the right.”
Last spring, all but two undergraduate officers were forced to resign after members of the 21 Club, a semi-secret society comprised of some of the heaviest drinkers on campus, held a party at Tiger Inn and destroyed some of the club property. Tiger Inn President Oliver Bennett and social chair Brendan Byrne III, the grandson of the former New Jersey governor by the same name, were the only two officers allowed to keep their posts. The other four officers were replaced.
Members of the club then wrote a letter to the president of the alumni board of governors for Tiger Inn saying they felt they were being treated unfairly because their input was not sought before the officers were forced to resign. “The decision, which will likely produce no productive results, has served only to further alienate the membership and foster the impression that the graduate board views us as irresponsible children,” the students wrote.
In 2006, the club went dry for two months after reports of a sexual assault and alcohol abuse surfaced. The Tiger Inn reopened its taps with new security and alcohol policies, including a buddy system to check on new members and in-house escorts to guide intoxicated students home.
Last year, Princeton University student Caroline Kitchener wrote a piece for The Atlantic that explored why some of here female friends were drawn to “the frattiest social club on campus.”
“Now, women join for the debauchery, not in spite of it,” Kitchener wrote. “Before I even arrived on campus my freshman year, I heard the Tiger Inn stories: competitive projectile vomiting, harmonious chanting of ‘tits for beer,’ and naked guys standing on tables while strumming their `penis guitars’.”
Tiger Inn was the last all-male eating club at Princeton University. In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the club was required to admit women as members. Sally Frank. class of 1980, successfully sued Princeton and several eating clubs over the issue.
Some students claim a club officer also sent an offensive email about Frank’s recent appearance on campus, suggesting that the members of Tiger Inn attend her talk and boo her.