Revisiting Cornell Orgy '99

Published: January 28, 2002, by the Cornell Review (the conservative "newspaper" on campus)

In November 1999, Cornell University's Department of Campus Life was embroiled in a sex scandal. During that time, Cornell Review learned that resident advisors (RAs) organized a Roman orgy for residents using student funds. The orgy was held in a University dormitory and many witnesses claim that several instances of public sex--heterosexual and homosexual--took place. Due to the hesitancy of former Review editors, the story was not immediately run in our paper and the Cornell Daily Sun scooped us. Cornell Review followed with a story of its own one week later. The incident gained national media attention and won an Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) award for Worst Campus Outrage of 1999. As of January 2002, no one at Cornell University has issued a formal apology for the orgy. No fundamental reform of RA selection has occurred. In short, there is nothing to prevent such an incident from ever happening again.

Below appears the original text of the breaking story, penned by me in November 1999. This is the first time that it has been publicly released.

A Campus Life sponsored program in Risley Hall was the site of public homosexual and heterosexual sex, Cornell Review has learned. According to two eyewitnesses at this University-funded "orgy theme" event, at least three individuals participated in acts of oral sex.

Resident Advisor (RA) Ariana L. Moore organized the event, which took place on Friday night, November 12, 1999 in the Risley Hall music room. According to several Risley residents, the program was advertised to the community as a sensual massage event. Witnesses indicate that the activities of the program went well beyond massages.

One Risley resident present at Moore's program, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Cornell Review that the atmosphere of the event was "very orgyesque." He stated that "the lights were very dim and incense was being burned for atmosphere." Strawberries and grapes were also available for residents to eat. Following an initial period of milling around, residents were paired off to give each other massages. A game of "love dice" was also played. According to the anonymous witness, three dice were used in this game. One die had a body part on each of its six sides, another contained an action on each side, and the third contained a length of time. All three dice were rolled for a pair of students and if, for example, the outcome were "ear," "neck," and "30 seconds," one partner would place her ear against her partner's neck for 30 seconds.

According to two witnesses, it was during the "love dice" game that three individuals began engaging in oral sex. When asked about her supervision of the "orgyesque" program, RA Moore told Cornell Review, "I was present the entire time." The evidence of public sex is substantial. In addition to the first witness, a second witness, who also wishes to remain anonymous, Cornell Review editor Brian Fiske in a face-to-face interview that she "looked in and saw people were having oral sex." Moreover, the participants in the public sex bragged about it to residents following the event. RA Moore, who admits that she never left the room, did nothing to intervene.

News of the sexual activities at a Campus Life sponsored program spread like wildfire through Risley. Sharp divisions occurred in the dormitory as to whether public orgies were appropriate. Further controversy developed over whether protection was used by those engaging in public sex. Some of this controversy spilled over onto the public listserve RISLEYHALL-L. On Thursday, November 18th, Risley resident Andrew Klein made the following statement concerning the events:

"Alright…I've been hearing all about this controversy and such from mad peeps and I can't understand what the fuss is about. I was down in the "love grotto" for about 10-15 minutes observing and I thought it was very entertaining (until some dude tried to give me a purple-nurple…that wasn't cool :-P)."

Despite the overwhelming evidence, Moore told Cornell Review that nothing happened. However, following a telephone interview with a senior Review editor, Cornell Review has learned that Moore made a frantic telephone call to a fellow resident advisor to whom she admitted that condom use was "optional." Moreover, following her interview with this newspaper, Moore spoke with Residence Hall Director (RHD) Michelle Warner, to whom she deferred all further comment.

To date, Cornell University has issued no official statement on the matter. No action has been taken against Moore or any other employee in the Department of Campus Life. Sources tell us that the University just wants this issue to fade away.

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