The recently elected student head of a Rice University dormitory has resigned after videos and images of him receiving a lap dance from a stripper during a victory celebration February 20 went viral.
The student paper, the Rice Thresher, did not identify the student president, but included an emailed apology in a story Tuesday that stated "No gender, race, or ethnicity should ever be objectified in any manner, and I fully admit to violating this ethical standard. To be clear, we have a zero-tolerance policy on this type of behavior, which can lead to things such as sexual harassment, and I definitely made a mistake Saturday night to which I fully admit."
Since Rice is all fancy and whatnot, it doesn't have dorms -- it has "colleges." As with all 11 colleges on the campus, the one in question -- McMurtry -- has an elected student government. The Rice website states that these student leaders manage each college's budget for "supporting social events, resources, facilities, and entertainment both on and off campus. The elected student leaders of each college also organize Orientation Week (O-Week) for new students, provide peer leadership for academic and social concerns, and serve on universitywide governance and social programming groups."
McMurtry college "boasts many fantastic accommodations, like a handy campfire pit in the middle of the quad, a wide roof with a lovely city view, and a kitchen on ever level," according to Rice's website.
And it also apparently boasted a stripper called Ms. Oscar for about half an hour on February 20.
The Thresher reported that, "according to sources, a stripper going by the stage name of Ms. Oscar entered a private room at McMurtry fully clothed at approximately 2 a.m. The McMurtry president-elect was not previously informed of the celebrations held in his honor."
The paper also quoted an unidentified female student as saying, "We just all wanted to support him and celebrate together, and we had no idea that we'd be breaking any rules or that anyone would be harmed by this."
The student also said that roughly 20 people attended the festivities; two of these revelers said that, before departing, Ms. Oscar told everyone to "stay in school." See? Stripping can be both entertaining and educational.
As you might guess, it didn't take long for videos to spread. One female student told the Thresher, "I just found it totally inappropriate that, on the campus of an educational institution, a woman is being paid to take her clothes off. That wasn't something I was comfortable with, and was made worse by the number of college leaders involved."
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Checking into possible violations of Title IX, which prohibits sexual discrimination in schools -- as well as Rice's own code of conduct -- the Thresher talked to Don Ostdiek, Associate Dean of Undergraduates and Deputy Title IX Coordinator.
Ostdiek said that Title IX "isn't the law outlawing everything to do with sex. Does the behavior or atmosphere around [an act] create a hostile environment that prevents people from accessing their educational opportunities? In general, if student sexual behavior is consensual all the way around and does not create a hostile environment, then it is not a violation of our standards or of Title IX."
Elections are now under way to find a new McMurtry president.
Check out the full story at the Thresher for more on students' reactions.