Planet Princeton

More Trouble for Private Eating Club at Princeton University: Student Allegedly Distributed Photo of Freshman Performing Sex Act at Party

The Tiger Inn is the third oldest eating club on the Princeton University campus.
The Tiger Inn is the third oldest eating club on the Princeton University campus.

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.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Ethan Hill

    Your outrage is laughable.

  • Arguman

    LOL. Holy crap.

  • Taco Belle

    Yeah!!! With your facts and stuff, and reminding people of the law. It’s feminist propaganda!!!!!!

  • Taco Belle

    Jesus Christ! I thought Princeton meant class – as in decorum. CLEARLY I WAS WRONG. Be more like Jack Donaghy, guys. Come on. I am so thoroughly disappointed and actually repulsed.

  • Bruce Wayne

    If the private parts aren’t visible, how do you know it was a sex act? No evidence, no crime.

  • R. Alex Reutter

    Please read, bro. The text says, “or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact”. Private parts don’t need to be visible for it to be a photo of a sex act.

  • YouMadBro?

    Word is there is no private parts in the photo itself, though.

  • PrincetonAlum

    Well, these anonymous comments are almost certainly from members of Tiger Inn. As an alum, I knew (back then) that some of the members weren’t the brightest guys. It seems things haven’t changed. I guess they think they’ll improve the situation through sarcastic attacks on Krystal and Faith.

    Go Krystal and Faith!

  • Steve Buyske

    How odd that an article about an eating club would receive far more comments than most articles, and that most of those comments are ad hominem attacks by one-time commenters? I wonder who those commenters are?

  • Tax dollars

    Another example of a self-described “investigative journalist”. Get real.

  • Crystal

    Krystal, stop trying to pretend to be a real journalist. This article is laughable. Such a feminist bias with a deplorable sense of self-righteousness.

  • Fact Checker #2

    Faith, If you actually spent time near the eating clubs recently you would see that you have to have a pass and valid ID to enter into TI. It seems you are disgruntled about not going to school here.

  • Disgruntled reader

    Hey Krystal you neglected to mention the message of the Atlantic article (but I’m glad you read actual journalism) which was that women do not feel pressured to submit to traditional gender roles in Tiger Inn. Female members can safely act how they want free of judgment.

  • Joshua Schnable

    And you are? Ah, right, an anonymous coward. So bold of you to share your thoughts with us.

  • Right, I’m a townie, born here, and had my couple years of club parties on the street (sans alcohol since I was under age.). Sorry to be so harsh, but can’t they screen at the door more carefully, or step in if things get out of control? I know there are rules, but there doesn’t seem to be real oversight, and it’s important to realize that the consequences of this kind of behavior are so much more serious today. Hopefully someone escorted this young lady back to her dorm.

  • Unimpressed by your bullshit

    You fail to mention one shred of evidence that a photo, if there ever was one, was forwarded. All eating clubs are private, but I respect the feeble attempt to make Princeton look “elitist” and disconnected from reality. Kudos to you, Krystal!
    Oh, and nice wordpress website! Very professional.

  • Fact Checker

    Faith, you didn’t even graduate from Princeton according to Tiger Net.

  • R. Alex Reutter

    Read the next paragraph, Stephen. It’s a third degree crime to distribute the photograph unless she consented, even if the image was made legally (which it was, being in the middle of a dance floor). So everyone who forwarded it is guilty.

  • An unfortunate lack of good judgment on the part of all involved. I’m so glad I got to be young and wild before the days of social media. (Although not quite so publicly.) But seriously, close this place down! It simply has no reason or right to exist.

  • Stephen

    Critical line here: “…and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.”

    A reasonable person would very much expect to be seen when they’re performing a sex act in the middle of a dance floor.

    Lacking that expectation or privacy, there’s no crime here.

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