United Poultry Concerns is pleased to send you the following article in today’s
edition of The Harvard Crimson (www.thecrimson.com):
“Phoenix Accused of Animal Cruelty,” by Laura A. Morris.
The article was generated by UPC’s email, last Friday, to
the President of Harvard University and to The Harvard Crimson,
regarding an email allegation that an unofficial club at Harvard,
called the Phoenix finals club, planned to torture and kill chickens
in an initiation ritual.
Phoenix Accused Of Animal Cruelty
By LAURA A. MORRIS
A national animal rights group is urging the University to investigate
unsubstantiated allegations that the Phoenix, S.K. final club has
made new members take part in “torturing and killing live
chickens” as part of the group’s initiation rites. The
accusations surfaced on House lists this weekend in the form of
an e-mail from the address firstname.lastname@example.org and signed
A dozen members of the Phoenix did not respond to repeated requests
for comment this weekend. Two members of the Porcellian—commonly
known as the Porc—also declined comment.
Several friends of Phoenix members said this weekend that they
had heard that the club’s initiation does involve raising
chickens but that they do not believe that the animals are tortured.
In response to the allegations, the president of the animal rights
group United Poultry Concerns sent a letter to Dean of the College
Benedict H. Gross ’71 and University President Lawrence H.
Summers, urging the administration to take action.
Gross said this weekend that he received several e-mails from people
concerned about the allegations of animal cruelty and that the administration
had been in contact with the club.
Associate Dean of the College Judith Kidd contacted the Phoenix
“in advance of this reported initiation ritual and had been
assured it wasn’t going to happen,” Associate Dean of
the College Thomas A. Dingman ’67 said in an interview yesterday.
“Personally, I find it surprising that Harvard undergraduates
would act in such an immature and reckless fashion,” Dingman
said. “And I’m sure that there will be plenty of people
very interested in pointing to animal rights issues, if in fact
the alleged cruelty took place. What action the college will take,
if these alleged practices took place, I am not sure.”
Chickens have been a part of Phoenix initiations in the past.
In 1994, Phoenix members notably brought chickens with them into
large Core classes.
And in 1999, Professor of Psychology Marc D. Hauser wrote an op-ed
in The Crimson, decrying the club’s alleged practice of forcing
new members to carry chickens around with them in crates.
“They apparently have no time to run free except when trying
to escape, and to my knowledge, there is no one giving them proper
animal care,” Hauser wrote. But this weekend’s e-mail
from “Jennifer” alleges much more serious animal abuse
on the part of Phoenix members.
“They have been ordered to torture and kill live chickens,
which have been stored in undergraduate Houses in defiance of Harvard
policy,” the e-mail says.
And although some have dismissed the e-mail as a prank, Karen Davis,
the president of United Poultry Concerns, says she is taking the
Davis’ letter to Gross and Summers urges the administrators
to immediately investigate the alleged acts of abuse and o file
animal cruelty charges against any offenders.
Under Massachusetts state law, torturing animals is punishable
by a fine of up to $1000 and up to a year in prison, according to
Davis’ letter to the administrators.
“If the club members are guilty, they deserve the strongest
allowable legal penalty,” Davis wrote in an e-mail to The
Crimson. “In addition, they should be expelled from the University
and forced to undergo psychological counseling—in prison.”
Davis said that Holly S. Lewis, a second-year student at Harvard
Law School and president of the Harvard Student Animal Legal Defense
Fund, told her about the allegations.