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Tiger Inn Alum President: `Behaviors That Make Members Feel Disrespected Must Stop’

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.

The president of the alumni board for the Tiger Inn, the private eating club at Princeton University that is under scrutiny for recent emails sent by club officers to other members, wrote a letter last week telling club members that prevalent attitudes within the club need to change, and behaviors that make members feel disrespected or unsafe must stop.

“The events of the last month have been deeply disturbing to the Board, the membership and to many members of the extended University Community. More concerning, however, are the prevalent attitudes and mindset within the club that allow these behaviors to take place,” wrote Hap Cooper, president of the Tiger Inn Board of Governors, in a Nov. 13 letter to club members that was sent by the club president via the club’s listserv, which is a Princeton University email address.

The letter, obtained by Planet Princeton via sources this week, was written a day after someone spray-painted the words “rape haven” on a stone wall in front of the Tiger Inn.

“Yesterday’s graffiti incident is both inexcusable and understandable,” Cooper wrote to club members. “There is a culture re-emerging at TI that makes some of our members feel unsafe. We went down this road a decade ago…and it didn’t end well. We WILL NOT go down this road again. All behavior or communication that makes other members feel disrespected, uncomfortable or unsafe must stop now. Future violations will be grounds for termination.”

In the letter, Cooper informed club members that club representatives are meeting with school officials and cooperating with a university investigation. He also said an anonymous survey of all members would be conducted and a town hall would be held to discuss survey findings.

“Our first objective is to identify as many of the unacceptable behaviors, events, traditions and attitudes as possible,” Cooper wrote. “Some will be easy to eliminate–others will take longer to change. Toward that end, we are working with the University to survey you (anonymously). We want to know what you see and how you feel. Once the survey process is complete, we will have a town hall meeting to discuss findings and our Action Plan…If we are going to achieve lasting systemic change, it is important for each of us to own this process and hold each other accountable to a higher standard of behavior. We will do this together.”

The email was the first communication club members received from the alumni board since two emails allegedly were sent more than a month ago that upset some club members. The survey was administered via an email link yesterday, several sources said. Cooper and Tiger Inn President Oliver Bennett did not respond to emails sent yesterday regarding the email and survey.

Last month, one club officer allegedly sent an email  to club members that included text and a photo of an intoxicated female freshman performing oral sex on a senior on the dance floor at an Oct. 10 party.

Another club officer allegedly sent an email to Tiger Inn members suggesting that they go to an Oct. 13 talk by Sally Frank and boo her. Frank, a graduate of the university, successfully sued for gender equality at the eating clubs at Princeton University. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Tiger Inn, the last eating club to admit women, was forced to admit women because of the suit.

Some students were uncomfortable and complained after the two emails were sent, but nothing was done to address students’ concerns. Other inappropriate emails allegedly were sent via the club listserv subsequent to the two emails.

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The full text of the email that was sent to Tiger Inn members Nov. 13:

Members of the Tiger Inn–

The events of the last month have been deeply disturbing to the Board, the membership and to many members of the extended University Community. More concerning, however, are the prevalent attitudes and mindset within the club that allow these behaviors to take place.

Yesterday’s graffiti incident is both inexcusable and understandable. There is a culture re-emerging at TI that makes some of our members feel unsafe. We went down this road a decade ago…and it didn’t end well. We WILL NOT go down this road again. All behavior or communication that makes other members feel disrespected, uncomfortable or unsafe must stop now. Future violations will be grounds for termination.

Undergraduate officers, members of the board, our steward and I have been speaking and meeting with University officials, Trustees, the GICC, alumni and our undergraduate members. I’m meeting with Dean Cherrey and several members tomorrow. We are cooperating with the University investigation and sharing resources. Our first objective is to identify as many of the unacceptable behaviors, events, traditions and attitudes as possible. Some will be easy to eliminate–others will take longer to change. Toward that end, we are working with the University to survey you (anonymously). We want to know what you see and how you feel. Once the survey process is complete, we will have a town hall meeting to discuss findings and our Action Plan.

If we are going to achieve lasting systemic change, it is important for each of us to own this process and hold each other accountable to a higher standard of behavior. We will do this together.

Hap Cooper
President, Board of Governors

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.

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