Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

'Animal House' Fraternity Banned From Dartmouth

If you were looking to join Bluto, D-Day, Otter, and Boon this semester by pledging Delta Tau Chi, we've got some bad news for you. It looks like Dean Wormer has finally had the last laugh and banned our favorite frat from Farber College.

No, wait -- it was actually Alpha Delta, a real life frat that inspired the Animal House writers, that was banned from Dartmouth's campus. And there won't be a homecoming parade this time around.

Nothing Is Over!

Instead of failing grades, though, Alpha Delta was targeted by administrators due to "violation of the school's standards of conduct," and placed on Dartmouth's version of double secret probation. While still under suspension, the frat branded eleven new members with the Alpha Delta letters, upon learning of which the school "de-recognized" the frat, prohibiting "recruitment of Dartmouth College undergraduates; recognition as a 'college approved' residential facility; use of College facilities or resources; participation in any College activities such as intramurals; and provision of insurance coverage."

But, just as it wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, Alpha Delta took their case all the way to the Supreme Court (of New Hampshire), arguing that members should still be able to live in the frat's house. The only problem was that, now severed from its relationship with Dartmouth, the frat house violated the town of Hanover's zoning restrictions. And the court was about as sympathetic to their plight as Marmalard or Neidermeyer would've been, ruling "the use of Alpha Delta's property as a student residence violates the Town's zoning ordinance," and unceremoniously adding: "To the extent that Alpha Delta's brief raises additional arguments, we conclude that they warrant no further discussion."

The First and the Last

National Lampoon writer Chris Miller pledged Alpha Delta at Dartmouth, and his memories of his frat experiences formed the basis of Animal House. While outlandish for its time, we don't remember frat members branding their new brothers like cattle in the movie. Maybe Alpha Delta's former members will be welcome at Omega Theta Pi, but we're guessing not.

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