While most of the students talk about summer jobs and internships, reminisce about the school year, or simply drink and flirt, Elizabeth Swern nervously peels the label on her bottle of Bud Light. Swern has a sandy-blond bob and an easy smile, but that smile quickly disappears when she's asked about her friend and sorority sister Audrey DeLong. Like many of DeLong's friends, Swern talks gingerly about the woman who, for the past eighteen months, has been at the center of a sexual assault case that has divided the Ohio University campus; forced a hard light onto issues like college drinking, sex, and date rape; raised difficult questions about gender politics on campuses; and could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Swern is somber as she describes the early morning hours of November 20, 1997. Studying for finals, Swern was interrupted by a friend who said there was an extremely drunk girl on the first floor of their coed dormitory. There was talk that the girl might be a member of her sorority, so Swern, an elementary education major from Newark, Ohio, went downstairs to see if she knew her.
When she got to the first floor of James Hall, Swern walked into a buzz of activity unusual for any hour, much less after 2 a.m. Students milled in the dim, narrow hallway as resident assistants conferred with one another. It was unclear exactly what was going on.
But Swern knew something was seriously wrong when she found a passed-out DeLong curled up on a loveseat in the room of Ben Mallory, a sophomore pre-med student from suburban Columbus. Swern says the sight of her friend pale and soaking wet is one she'll never forget.
"She was such a mess," Swern says of DeLong, a junior from southwest Ohio who had been celebrating her 21st birthday earlier that night, at five different bars, with her sorority sisters. Later in the evening she rendezvoused with Mallory, an athletic, good-looking twenty-year-old redhead whom she had met a few weeks earlier.
"She was lifeless," Swern recalls, "completely passed-out, just awful."
Swern and a friend decided to drive DeLong back to the Delta Zeta sorority house where she lived. While they tried to roust her, Swern asked Mallory what happened.
Mallory never directly answered her questions. "He was afraid he was in trouble," Swern says. "He kept asking if I could talk to the RA [resident assistant] for him."
Mallory had good reason to be afraid, because he was in trouble. Big trouble. Two students told the RAs--and later, Ohio University police--that they saw Mallory having sex on the floor of the dorm showers with a passed-out DeLong. Others told police DeLong was so drunk she was incapable of consenting to sex.
Four hours later, university police arrested Mallory on suspicion of rape.
For Swern, who literally carried DeLong out of Mallory's room, there's no doubt that Mallory took advantage of her sorority sister and broke the law in the process.
"I keep thinking, How did this happen? I thought maybe they both wanted it, but I looked at Audrey and thought, no way," Swern says above the din at the Pub. "I know he's guilty. If you saw Audrey that night, you'd know."
Exactly what happened that night is still in dispute. But what has happened since is not. What started as a night of revelry and then morphed into a drunken nightmare has now mushroomed into a legal tangle of staggering proportions.
Nearly everyone who became involved in the incident, from the president of the university to the dorm RAs to Mallory's roommate, is being sued, some by both DeLong and Mallory. By the time the mess is settled, it could cost Ohio taxpayers more than $6 million--and that's before the legal fees are tallied. Moreover, the only people who stand to profit are the ones responsible--or irresponsible--for what happened in the first place.
The events of that night have been turned upside down, with Mallory now portraying himself as the feckless victim. He claims he was slandered by friends and sacrificed by a gender-biased university, whose discipline system tramples students' rights. DeLong remains adamant that Mallory sexually assaulted her and claims that Ohio University didn't do enough to protect her.
It's clear that a few old-fashioned concepts have become lost in this morass of legal, gender, and policy disputes. Right and wrong have taken a backseat to legal and illegal. Mallory seems hungry for vindication and, to some extent, revenge. But even if he wins a multimillion-dollar judgment that he can hold up like a trophy, Mallory still must face himself every morning knowing that the payoff stems from the night he had sex with a drunken, vomit-covered woman, who, by his own admission, could barely walk.
And completely lost is any notion of individual responsibility. Both Mallory and DeLong are suing each other and the school where they met. Yet there's no question that, if either of them had stepped back at several critical points that night, their problems would have ended, not with a statewide scandal, but with nothing more than a hangover, some hazy memories, and a few blurred snapshots at the bottom of a sock drawer.
A Drunken Rendezvous
Friends say DeLong, an education major who wants to be an English teacher, was not a big drinker, in part because she was too busy. They describe a woman zipping between schoolwork, social obligations, and activities for Delta Zeta, of which she was president in 1998, during Mallory's criminal trial. "She's always got a million things going on at once, and she can handle it all," a former roommate says in admiration.
Teetotaler or not, DeLong--who refused to comment for this story, citing pending litigation--probably knew she'd be getting blitzed when she went out on Wednesday night, November 19, 1997. It was, after all, her 21st birthday, which meant she could legally buy and consume alcohol in a college town where drinking is, as junior Kathy Kingsley says, "basically a hobby."
Of course, that's true at many colleges, particularly state schools, where 15,000 to 50,000 twentysomethings are thrown together in a situation where taking eighteen hours of classes a week is considered a heavy workload. While the incident between Ben Mallory and Audrey DeLong happened at Ohio University, it could have happened anywhere.
DeLong and her friend Melissa Clark left the Delta Zeta house around 8:30 p.m. and went to the Pub. DeLong, wearing a sticker that read "Happy Birthday," drank a Vodka Collins, eyed cute guys, snapped photographs, and toasted with Clark to "lots more good times together," according to the statement DeLong gave Ohio University police.
DeLong and Clark made their way from the Pub to Night Court and then to the Junction. The next stop was the Cat's Eye Saloon, a popular bar frequented by members of OU's baseball, hockey, and wrestling teams. There, DeLong and Clark were joined by other members of their sorority, who were more than happy to buy drinks for the birthday girl.
The party moved on to the C.I., a bar with numerous pool tables and, like many bars on Court Street, restrooms where the lingering smell is just as often vomit as urine. It was at the C.I. that DeLong met with Mallory, at about 10:30. They had met two weeks earlier and talked on the phone a few times since.
"She had just met him," Swern says. "She barely even knew him. She just thought he was a cute guy."
Mallory told police DeLong was already drunk when she and her friends met up with him. The oldest of two children and a standout pitcher and golfer in high school, Mallory was a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity and hopes to become a doctor.
He bought DeLong a vodka and cranberry juice. Though they barely knew each other, friends say the pair were inseparable from the time they got together that night. "The two were stuck together it seemed," says Jill Eckert, who had some reservations about Mallory. "He seemed friendly, but more friendly than a person you just met a week ago should be."
DeLong's friend Kenzi Davis says Mallory was "very polite. He did not seem to be intoxicated at all."
Soon after the group arrived at the C.I., another girl they had planned to meet was unable to get into the bar because of ID problems. So they all walked to the Pigskin, a sports bar just a few doors down. There, the underage Mallory bought DeLong a "Black Widow," a mixed shot of Absolut vodka and black sambuca.
By then, the shots and drinks were taking their toll. DeLong was bombed as midnight approached. "Audrey couldn't keep her eyes open. She kept stating how drunk she was," Clark told police, and later testified: "It was the most drunk I've ever seen her."
Mallory agreed to take DeLong back to the Delta Zeta house, about a five-minute walk from the bar. DeLong says she doesn't remember the walk. She testified that the last thing she remembers about the night is being at the Pigskin.
Before they left, there were photos to take. DeLong had said earlier that she wanted a picture from every bar they drank at that night. In all the photos, DeLong is grinning from ear to ear, clearly enjoying her night of celebration, often arm-in-arm with Mallory. Dressed in a dark flannel shirt and white Ohio University baseball cap, Mallory also appears to be having a good time.
What neither knew as the pictures were being snapped is that the good time was about to turn bad. Within a few hours, Mallory and DeLong would be scarred by a terrible event that both will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The Semi-Conscious Seductress
Mallory walked DeLong to Delta Zeta, where she entered the six-digit code into a keypad to unlock the front door of the picturesque, towering blue sorority house. He tried to escort DeLong to her room, but Karen Gollick, the sorority house mother, stopped the pair. She told Mallory he had to leave, because visiting hours were over and males were no longer permitted in that part of the house. Mallory turned to leave, followed impulsively by DeLong, whom Gollick testified "needed help up the steps. She was swaying back and forth. She slurred her speech."
They made the twenty-minute walk to James Hall, where Mallory lived with Ryan Davis, a Solon native and, like Mallory, a member of Phi Kappa Theta. Mallory said he struggled to keep DeLong on her feet during the walk, and when they got to James Hall, both collapsed on his bed and began kissing.
DeLong got on top of Mallory and they began "grinding," he testified. But then DeLong became sick. "She vomited all over my shirt, face, and bed," Mallory told OU police. "My pillow was covered in vomit." DeLong eventually made it to a toilet in the men's restroom, where she vomited for the next fifteen minutes, then passed out.
The common restroom on James Hall's first floor is actually two connected rooms, the first with toilets, sinks, and mirrors, and beyond that, the shower room. It serves an entire wing of all-male rooms, so there was a constant flow of students in and out of the restroom while DeLong vomited in a toilet stall.
Jay Roden, a James Hall resident, entered the restroom and saw DeLong vomiting and crying. She was in the same condition fifteen minutes later, prompting him to ask Mallory how much she had to drink. According to Roden, Mallory replied, "I don't know, but I spent a lot of money on her." Roden also asked if the situation was under control, to which Mallory replied, "Yes, everything is fine, and you can leave."
By this time DeLong was covered with vomit, head-to-toe. "She had [vomit] on her shirt and pants, her feet, and her hair," Mallory said to police. He decided to take DeLong in the shower area to clean her off. Dressed only in navy blue Champion shorts, Mallory led DeLong into the locker-room-style showers.
What happened next is still a point of bitter contention. While DeLong testified that she has no recollection of being at James Hall or the Delta Zeta house, Mallory paints a picture of her as a drunken seductress.
"I was cleaning her up and trying to sober her up," Mallory said in a written statement to Ohio University police. "She pulled me into her and started to grind with me. She then pulled my shorts down. I preceded [sic] to have sex with her for a short period of time (five minutes)."
Mallory also wrote: "When she pulled my shorts down, I sort of backed away before she pulled me to her again. I thought at this time she wanted to have sex with me." Mallory, who noted that he "didn't climax," said he repeatedly resisted DeLong's advances, but eventually "gave in."
James Hall residents tell a less benign, more chilling tale of what happened in the showers.
Daniel Shaver told police he saw DeLong sitting with her back to the wall and Mallory between her legs, having sex with her while she "had her eyes closed and appeared to be asleep." James Kalman said when he entered, he saw DeLong naked and on her back, with Mallory on top of her. "She was not making any sound or moving," he said. Though he didn't see DeLong's face, Kalman said, "It appeared she was passed out."
Kalman said he and several other students became concerned enough to alert RA Heath Carfrey, who in turn called RA Brian Onofrio. The two of them went into the restroom, but remained outside the shower area, yelling to Mallory and asking him what was going on. When he replied "nothing," Carfrey asked Mallory to come out and talk. It took ten minutes to coax Mallory out of the shower room, with DeLong still inside. He initially denied having sex with her, then admitted to it. Concerned that DeLong was unable to consent to sex in her drunken stupor, the dorm staff eventually called university police.
By then, things had grown heated on the first floor of James Hall. Several residents said DeLong--clothed in a shirt and shorts of Mallory's--appeared drunk and disoriented when she stumbled out of the restroom, crying. Ryan Davis got into an argument about the "morality" of his roommate and frat brother's actions, finally accusing Mallory of raping DeLong.
As the fall quarter drew to a close, Ohio University police were investigating the incident as a case of acquaintance rape. Their investigation was still under way when students returned to Athens in early 1998, after the holiday break. DeLong went to the Athens County prosecutor's office and said she wanted to pursue legal action against Mallory. In March, he was charged with sexual battery, a fourth-degree felony. The charge basically said that DeLong was unable to consent to having sex with Mallory, and he should have known that.
OU police, following rumors floating around James Hall, continued to question other female students. Some related disturbingly similar stories about Ben Mallory.
Patricia Majewski told OU officials that she was out drinking with Mallory two months before the incident with DeLong, and that Mallory "kept pushing me to drink more," buying her beers and shots of Sex on the Beach. They went back to her dorm room and began kissing. Three times, Majewski said, Mallory "pushed up and wanted sex," which she refused. But that didn't matter to Mallory, she said.
"While I was pinned under him, Ben had sex with me, and I kept saying no," Majewski told OU police.
Allyson Passarelli told of her friend Kelly Herr, who went with Mallory to a fraternity party. Passarelli said Herr returned in tears, running into Passarelli's dorm room with her pants undone after Mallory pushed for her to have sex with him, even after she repeatedly refused.
Deserved or not, Ben Mallory had a reputation around campus as someone who became aggressive with women when he was drinking. It was a reputation that preceded the DeLong incident, and it's an image that persists to this day.
Junior Sara Knox lived in James Hall her first two years at OU, with a girl who dated Mallory during their freshman year. Knox says when she heard that a man on the first floor had sexually assaulted a woman, "I already knew who it was."
On the surface, Knox says, Mallory was a studious, friendly guy who was popular with women and seemed to have everything going for him. But he also had a dark side.
"Just the way he was after he'd been drinking, [the incident] really didn't surprise me," Knox says, an open, highlighted textbook resting on the couch of her off-campus rental house. "There were times after he'd been drinking and he'd come to our room, and he wasn't interested that [his girlfriend] was upset because she hadn't seen him all week. It was just 'Are you coming up tonight?'"
Such gossip is inadmissible in court, but it swirled around campus as Mallory's criminal trial loomed. By then, Ohio University had brought charges against Mallory through the school's internal judicial system. Mallory was accused of violating the student code of conduct, breaching a wide-ranging clause about causing "mental or bodily harm" to another person or oneself. Actions prohibited in this clause include everything from sexual assault to hazing to abusing alcohol or drugs in a way that makes someone sick.
In April 1998--one month after he was indicted and three months after DeLong was elected president of her sorority--Mallory went before the school's judicial panel, made up of three students, a faculty member, and an administrator. Mallory's defense attorney, Robert Toy, attended the hearing, but was not allowed to speak. "I'd call it a kangaroo court," Toy says, "but that's unfair to kangaroos."
The board expelled Mallory for violating the student conduct code. He appealed through the Office of Judiciaries' appeal board, but was denied. He also appealed to school President Robert Glidden, but that too was denied.
Mallory's criminal trial began last October and lasted six days. Both he and DeLong took the stand, presenting jurors with an alcohol-soaked, he-said she-said recounting of events that cast them both in a questionable light.
Some witnesses painted Mallory as the more sober of the two. Onofrio testified that Mallory "was definitely not as intoxicated as she was. His speech was definitely not slurred."
James Ferguson, a toxicologist from the Franklin County Coroner's Office, estimated in court that DeLong's blood-alcohol level on the night of the incident was a staggering .375, a level more than triple the legal limit at which DeLong would have lost her memory and comprehension. "At a level this high, she was in danger of going into a coma," Ferguson said.
Still, Mallory tearfully testified that the sex was consensual. "She knew what was going on," he said. "We were both drunk. I followed her initiations."
Toy, a Berea native who served as Athens County Prosecutor for fourteen years, noted that DeLong had the ability to punch in the entry code at her sorority house ninety minutes before the incident. He hammered away at DeLong's claim that she didn't remember anything during the eight-hour span. He argued that the events inside the James Hall shower were simply a case of two drunken college kids having a sloppy good time.
"She initiated the sex, she wanted the sex, and she got the sex," Toy argued. "And Ben was more than happy to give it to her. If it's consent, it's not a crime."
The jury believed Toy's argument, voting 11-1 to acquit Mallory. When the lone holdout would not change her mind, there was no hope for a clear verdict. The judge declared a hung jury, and tears flowed on both sides.
The thinking in the jury room was subsequently summed up by an anonymous juror, who told The Athens News: "It was essentially two drunken adults having sex." The juror believed that Mallory was nearly as drunk as DeLong, leaving him unable to make unimpaired judgments, and that the prosecutors never proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The juror also criticized OU police for failing to seal off the restroom as a crime scene, and said many of the residents of James Hall gave conflicting testimony.
Athens County Prosecutor Bill Biddlestone decided against retrying the case, claiming it would be difficult to find a jury that would convict Mallory. In fact, sources close to the investigation claim that the prosecutor's office never wanted to try the case at all, but felt pressured by OU. Mallory may have fumbled his way into a trial--in an unusual move, he agreed to testify before the grand jury, apparently hoping to head off an indictment. But instead of convincing the grand jury not to indict, sources say Mallory came off as not believable.
In the end, the charges against Mallory were dropped. But the storm did not pass. The dust had barely settled on the criminal trial when a messy jumble of lawsuits and countersuits started flying. The suits could cost Ohio University millions of dollars--and quite possibly make DeLong, or Mallory, or both rich.
Lawyers, Booze, and Money
Barely five weeks after Mallory's trial ended, Audrey DeLong filed a $2 million civil lawsuit in Athens against him for sexually assaulting her and inflicting severe emotional distress. The suit was filed on November 18, 1998, one day before DeLong's 22nd birthday and almost exactly one year since the incident at James Hall. This month she filed an additional $2 million lawsuit against Ohio University, contending the RAs should have intervened in the shower earlier.
Robert Shostak, an Athens attorney representing DeLong, says Mallory should have known DeLong was in no condition to consent to sex. "She went out to celebrate her birthday and believed she was safe," Shostak says. "Mr. Mallory's conduct seemed sufficient for Ohio University to take action against him and expel him from the university."
The expulsion is at the heart of a lawsuit Mallory filed in federal court in Columbus on the same day that DeLong sued him. Acting through Cleveland attorney Jan Roller, Mallory is pursuing an $8 million suit against Ohio University, DeLong, RA Heath Carfrey, roommate Ryan Davis, two other OU students, and two OU administrators. His lawsuit was later expanded to include school President Robert Glidden and the eleven members of the school's board of trustees.
In total, Mallory has named seventeen people in his suit, plus the university.
Mallory sued one administrator and the four students--including DeLong and Brad Pitcher, a student from Chagrin Falls who wrote a letter to a local newspaper about Mallory--for defamation. Mallory claims they made "false and defamatory statements to others" about his actions. But his charges against the university are far more interesting, because of the questions they raise about sexual politics on campus.
Mallory claims that, by expelling him but not DeLong for violating the student conduct code, the school engaged in sexual discrimination. In the suit, his lawyer cites the famous Title IX statute ensuring gender equity at all schools that accept federal funding. Most of Title IX's notoriety has come from the use of the 27-year-old law to force schools to offer an equal number of men's and women's college sports.
Mallory's attorney makes compelling points about his civil suit and the university's system of disciplining students.
"Date rape has been an issue across the country," says Roller. "There was an atmosphere created whereby the woman was the alleged victim of date rape. So a disciplinary hearing proceeded against the boy but not the girl.
"But both were engaged in the same behavior. Both were drinking alcohol, both engaged in sexual behavior. The girl initiated the sexual behavior, and the university chose only to institute proceedings against the male and not the female. We feel that is inherently unfair."
Mallory clearly sees himself as the victim in the case, a martyr at a time when colleges try to send a strong message that women are safe on campus. He refused to sit for an interview, but did speak in snippets about his case over the phone. One moment Mallory sounds exasperated, blaming OU for its treatment of him. The next minute he casts himself as a constitutional crusader for gender equity and the rights of the accused.
"This is a huge lawsuit. It got a tremendous amount of publicity. For what they put me through, it was total hell," Mallory says. When asked about Ohio University, he says: "They really, really screwed up. They rush to judgment and don't even realize what they're doing to the person that's being accused. They don't even consider his constitutional rights and whether or not they're rushing to judgment, and [they] really could be getting into violating [his] constitutional rights when they're only concerned with the female. It's a landmark case."
Mallory sees himself as the victim, and it's a sentiment shared by his father, Chuck Mallory. The senior Mallory speaks about his son from inside the family's luxurious Canal Winchester home, in a new development that faces a golf course. With a built-in swimming pool and a big deck in the back yard, it appears Mallory's family is able to afford the best legal representation.
"The university tried to destroy him and unjustly so," says Chuck Mallory, standing before two full walls of framed photos of Mallory and his sister, and shaking his head. "I guess you could call [Ben] the All-American boy, and they never once questioned the believability of her. Imagine if you go out one night and you hook up with some gal, and then you're wrongly accused of something and the ramifications of that are, you can't do what you want to do."
He talks deliberately, with a controlled, slow-burning anger, gazing into the distance in search of answers. Until his son's name is cleared, Mallory says, Ben cannot pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. "As long as this is hanging over him, he can't apply to medical schools. He can't get a letter of recommendation."
Chuck Mallory ex-changed a series of letters and e-mails with Glidden in which he questioned why DeLong was never disciplined. He notes that DeLong's level of intoxication alone could have subjected her to sanctions from the university.
"I abhor the amount of drinking that goes on here and at campuses across the country," Glidden wrote to Mallory's father after his son's expulsion, according to The Athens News. "We have a long way to go in solving this problem and will need the help of many others in modifying that behavior. I will not, however accept this as an excuse for the type of assault that occurred."
Roller describes Mallory as a good student, a caring member of his family. She seems genuinely offended by the school's treatment of her client. The student advocate who represented Mallory during the school's disciplinary procedure, Roller notes, had no real legal training. She claims the hearing was capricious, violated Mallory's constitutional rights of due process, denied his right to legal counsel, and denied his right to cross-examine witnesses in a meaningful way. In effect, Mallory's lawsuit calls into question the university's entire discipline system.
"Wasn't Audrey DeLong performing the same kind of action that would subject her to disciplinary proceedings?" Roller says, echoing the point that DeLong's drunkenness also violated the student conduct code. "That didn't happen. She was counseled by the university. He was prosecuted, convicted, and expelled."
Sounding like she's already in court, Roller concludes, "These are two nice young people attending a good university. Both used poor judgment in an atmosphere whereby the university decided to make a difference between the two based on their sex. The evidence will show she and he both drank, and that she was the sexual aggressor."
A girl who vomits on Mallory and then lapses into semi-consciousness as the sexual aggressor? That's too much for many people to take, including John Burns, Ohio University's director of legal affairs. Burns expounds on the subject from a quaint office filled with drawings and watercolor paintings of various buildings in Athens and on Ohio University's campus.
"I went through the record," Burns says, shutting the heavy, hundred-year-old doors to his office. "I thought there was sufficient evidence to say, Okay, they're young, it's her birthday, they get back, who knows what would have occurred in the bedroom of his dormitory room if she hadn't gotten sick. But there was a hiatus here of about twenty minutes to a half-hour [in which] she goes and gets sick."
At that point, Burns says, plans for a night of romance--or even drunken lust--usually go out the window.
"But he comes back, takes her in the shower, and then he says, 'She seduced me in the shower.' I mean . . .," Burns says, shaking his head in disbelief. "The university's position is that this was behavior that was inappropriate on her part with the use of alcohol--agreed. But we found his behavior in taking advantage of her in the given circumstances was inappropriate."
The difference, according to Burns, is a university policy not to pursue action against the alleged victim in sexual assault cases for secondary offenses like drinking. The rationale, he says, is to make it as easy as possible for a victim to come forward. The policy allows the university to "deal with the problem, which is the sexual assault, not the alcohol. So it's a trade-off. It's a judgment thing."
He also notes that the university's judicial system is completely different from criminal court. The university panel makes decisions based on a preponderance of evidence, not the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of criminal cases. And by that criterion, Burns says, "It was our judgment that he was responsible for this."
Burns, Roller, and Shostak, DeLong's attorney, all speak convincingly and passionately about their positions. It's difficult to imagine the three sides reaching an out-of-court settlement, though that is what some observers think will happen. Until then, all sides continue to prepare for trial.
The Senior Shuffle
Around campus the case remains a sort of Rorschach test through which one's views on drinking, acquaintance rape, and promiscuity all come into play. Several women say that Mallory is unequivocally guilty, no matter what the jury said, while quite a few men complain that the guy got railroaded by the university in what they see as a rush to judgment dictated by gender politics. Still others see the entire affair as a cautionary tale about what happens when students drink too much.
"There's a point where you have to say, Wait a minute, I don't want to get in trouble," senior Brett Inglis says while walking across College Green, the brick-lined center of the campus. "When she throws up, you have to say, Wait a minute.
"I don't think most people say, cut and dry, he's guilty or she's lying. Both were wrong," he continues. "She was wrong for putting herself in that situation, but he was wrong for going way too far. The general consensus is that she didn't deserve to be put in that situation."
Ted Jones, the former Athens police chief who now serves as the university's director of campus safety, warns that the situation is one that more schools will have to deal with in the future.
"This case was unusual only in that it was an acquaintance rape case that actually went before a jury," says Jones, wearing a pistol on his hip and a tie decorated with drawings of red chili peppers. "This is not just OU. This is something all campuses are going to deal with, whether they admit it or not."
Has the whole Ben Mallory-Audrey DeLong mess really changed anything on campus? A better question might be whether anything can ever be done to change the behavior of a slew of eighteen- to 22-year-olds. True, not everyone in college drinks excessively. At OU, computer kiosks are set up that allow students to check their e-mail from virtually anywhere on campus. Many students are jogging or rollerblading on a paved path that runs along the Hocking River as the sun begins to fade into the lush green Appalachian foothills. A brass band plays a concert on College Green that is well-attended, while coffee shops are full of students slurping java, their noses buried in textbooks.
But the drinking continues.
Back on Court Street, students are still filtering into the bars. Most of the guys cruise in packs, dressed in cargo shorts and baggy shirts, while the women are dressed in short skirts and tight shirts. If it seems like a double standard--well, few would argue the point.
Other students--both male and female--are wearing white T-shirts stained with ink. They are engaged in a popular senior ritual, "The Shuffle," wherein students have a drink at every bar on Union Street and then hit Court Street. In all, it's more than sixteen drinks. Bartenders or bouncers sign the Shufflers' shirts at each bar, as proof of the binge and a keepsake of their crazy college days.
The shuffle entails picking a theme or slogan--often referring to an inside joke among friends--that is written on the shirts and usually scrawled in the bathrooms of the bars as well. Inside the bathroom of the Cat's Eye is graffiti about the "Stinky Shuffle" and the "Senior Shuffle."
At the front of the Cat's Eye, a student in a white T-shirt is bent over to let the bouncer sign the back of his shirt. When he straightens up, he reveals the theme of his group's shuffle, written in tall, black letters: NO SHAME.
Mike Tobin is an Ohio University graduate. He can be reached at [email protected].