For a variety of reasons, sleeping porches feature in a number of lawsuits, pointing to an astonishing fact: despite fraternity houses’ position as de facto residence halls for so many American college students, safety features are decidedly spotty; about half of them don’t even have fire sprinklers
Or, to turn away from the buttocks, as surely a good number of fraternity men would be well advised to do, consider another type of fraternity injury: the tendency of brothers and their guests to get liquored up and fall off-or out of-the damn houses is a story in itself.
The campuses of Washington State University and the University of Idaho are located some eight miles apart in the vast agricultural region of the Northwest known as the Palouse.
It would have been an unremarkable Wednesday evening-focused on the kind of partying and hooking up that are frequent pleasures of modern sorority women-save for its hideous end. Andaverde and her sorority sisters began the night at Sigma Chi, where the “sorority ladies” drank alcohol and spent the evening with “dates” they had been assigned during a party game. (The language of Andaverde’s legal complaint often seems couched in a combination of ’50s lingo and polite euphemism, intended perhaps to preclude a conservative Idaho jury from making moralistic judgments about the plaintiff’s behavior.) The charms of Andaverde’s assigned date ran thin, apparently, because close to midnight, she left him and made her way over to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, where she quickly ended up on the third-floor sleeping porch.
Many fraternity houses, especially older ones, have sleeping porches-sometimes called “cold airs” or “rack rooms”-typically located on the top floor of the buildings’ gable ends. They are large rooms filled with bunks, some of which are stacked in triple tiers, and their large windows are often left open, even in the coldest months. Many fraternity members have exceedingly fond memories of their time on the porches, which they view-like so many fraternity traditions-as a simultaneously vexing and bonding experience. Although these group sleeping arrangements were once considered an impediment to a young man’s sex life, the hookup culture, in which privacy is no longer a requirement of sexual activity, has changed that, and the sleeping-porch experience is once again coming into favor.
It is at this point that the language of the suit finally frees itself of euphemism and reveals the fearsome power of the unambiguous, anda rolled onto her shoulder toward the exterior wall, and suddenly, quickly, and unexpectedly dropped off Cook’s mattress into the open exterior window, falling from the third-floor ‘sleeping porch’ to the cement approximately 25 feet below.”
According to the complaint, shortly after arriving at SAE, Andaverde ran into a friend of hers, and he took her up to the sleeping porch, where he introduced her to a pal of his named Joseph Cody Cook
The injuries were devastating and included permanent brain injury. Andaverde was airlifted to a trauma center in Seattle, where she remained for many weeks; in the early days of her care, it seemed she might not survive. Eventually, however, she improved enough to leave the hospital and was transferred to a series of rehabilitation centers, where she spent many months learning to regain basic functions. Police, interviewed about the case, defended themselves the way police departments in college towns all over the country reasonably defend themselves when accused of not preventing a fraternity-house disaster: “We just can’t send undercover people meaningful link into private houses or private parties,” said David Duke, the Moscow, Idaho, assistant chief of police.
Written by : Nikki Woods
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