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MTV's 'Fraternity Life' in trouble with the law again


By Wade Paulsen, 06/11/2003 

Two seasons of MTV's show Fraternity Life, two fraternities in trouble with both their universities and the law. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that two members of the Delta Omega Chi fraternity at the University of California -- Santa Cruz ("UCSC") have been charged with a pair of misdemeanors for a stunt performed for the MTV cameras. The two allegedly stole a fish from a UCSC reflecting pond on May 20, fried it, and then forced fraternity pledges to eat it,

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The fish, a koi named Midas, was one of 16 koi located in the pond. When the controversy started, the two students apparently bought another koi, which cost around $650, and threw it in the pond, perhaps figuring that no one could tell one koi from another. They were wrong and now face state misdemeanor grand theft and malicious mischief charges. In addition, the fraternity is being investigated by UCSC, which says through a spokesperson that it is "likely" the frat will face disciplinary action. Delta Omega Chi could be warned, put on probation, or even decertified and banned.

This stunt follows the antics of the first season of Fraternity Life, which led to the suspension of the Sigma Chi Omega chapter at the University of Buffalo for illegal hazing and to university discipline against three students for breaking into the Buffalo Zoo. However, they didn't kill any animals during their ill-fated trespass, unlike the UCSC students.

Nevertheless, MTV plans to continue with the second season, which is scheduled to debut in September 2003. We wish them luck in avoiding yet another scandal before filming finishes.

Of course, this is UCSC, home of sports teams nicknamed the "Banana Slugs," so there have to be some off-the-wall elements to this story ... and there are. For example, the spokesperson said that the prank was being investigated for "traumatizing" other koi in the pond when Midas was taken. Also, the spokesperson noted that the replacement koi was released into the pond without knowing if it would get along with the other fish. We think someone has been watching too many showings of Finding Nemo.

Unsurprisingly, the group most outraged about the behavior of the frat is ... you guessed it, PETA, which thinks fish eating humans is OK but not vice versa. About 20 PETAphiles staged a protest outside the frat on June 7, carrying signs such as "Fry Up A Frat Boy Instead." However, the frat and MTV took off for the day, so the protesters had to settle for the usual audience of local writers and TV crews, plus three sheriff's deputies.

20 protesters? Despite the advance publicity given to the protest in this story? It doesn't seem that UCSC students are as outraged as the articles would have you believe. In fact, it sounds as if the media and security may have outnumbered the protesters. Such is the current state of local news.

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