A University of California, San Diego fraternity is under investigation by the school’s administration for asking at least one coed to expose herself in a photo promoting rush week.
Sophomore Rachel Friedman said she received an unexpected request Thursday for a revealing selfie from a fraternity member she barely knows.
"He wanted my breasts and to say 'rush' and the name of his fraternity," Friedman said.
According to a Facebook message, the member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) said he and his fellow fraternity members were charged with getting "rush boobs" for rush week.
"Rush boobs: I hadn't heard about that until today but it's apparently something other girls have been asked to do for all different types of frats," Friedman said.
Rush week is the recruiting season for campus fraternities, when pledges may be put under pressure to perform silly pranks. But Friedman said the picture request exposes a very dangerous culture deeply rooted in the fraternity system.
Instead of exposing herself, Friedman exposed the rush week propaganda ploy on Facebook and sent the message to San Diego media.
In another Facebook message, the SAE member later apologized and asked Friedman to take down the post of his text. But Friedman said the problem is not just with one member of one fraternity in one school.
"It is common practice and goes along with the rape culture," she said. "It is more common in Greek life than any other aspect."
Perhaps ironically, Friedman met the fraternity member a year ago at a "Free the Nipple" campus demonstration. The group oftentimes appears topless in public to draw attention to laws that prohibit sexual equality for women.
"The premise of going topless for 'Free the Nipple' is exactly opposite of exposing myself without even my face being there, just exposing my body to say, 'Join this frat, join this group of men,'" Friedman explained.
The national SAE headquarters was not amused either. In a statement sent to NBC 7, spokesman Brandon Weghorst wrote, "The national organization and its leaders do not tolerate behavior of this kind, nor is it part of any activity or expectation by the fraternity. Our membership experience is based on concepts that promote the development of brothers — and not on the kind of immature behavior that stereotypes the Greek-letter community."
Weghorst said the UCSD chapter offices swiftly suspended the members responsible for the incident. The national group will also investigate and "may take additional corrective actions," according to Weghorst.
A UCSD administration spokesperson said the school is also looking into the request. The student responsible for the text could not be reached for this story.
SAE's full statement is below:
"The Sigma Alpha Epsilon headquarters is aware of the completely inappropriate and unacceptable requests by one of our new members. The national organization and its leaders do not tolerate behavior of this kind, nor is it part of any activity or expectation by the fraternity. Our membership experience is based on concepts that promote the development of brothers — and not on the kind of immature behavior that stereotypes the Greek-letter community.
"We have learned that the chapter officers at UCSD moved swiftly to suspend the members responsible for this incident, which we applaud. But more importantly, we will be investigating the details surrounding this case and may take additional corrective actions, as necessary. Sigma Alpha Epsilon has a zero-tolerance policy for actions that deviate from our values and expectations."