Deep in the house, members of the fraternity gathered around a large table and Nico handed round drinks. The room stank of testosterone, yeast and sweat, several members having run directly from late lectures or driven straight over from collegiate matches. No one had wanted to miss this meeting and the younger pledges were standing against the walls, leaning back on brightly coloured pennants and flexing their necks.
Cai called everyone to attention.
“We’ve got a problem,” he began. “This new tutor, this jumped up teacher. He’s stirring up trouble, telling lies about our fraternity. You know who I mean.” There were grunts of assent around the room.
“Since the start of semester, he seems to have had it in for us. He doesn’t appreciate the system and he is not interested in Greek life. We don’t think he has any fraternity affiliations, but we are getting concerned about the impact he’s having. People are ignoring us because of him and we’re getting a bad name across campus. What do we know so far? Anyone got anything on him? What’s with all his tricks?”
“He’s pretty scathing about us, that’s for sure,” a sophomore answered, “and he won’t answer us straight, especially when there’s a crowd around.”
“There’s always a crowd around,” another voice jumped in, “you can’t get him alone.”
“That’s not true; Simon had him round last week,” said another.
“Simon?” asked Cai, and thirty heads turned and looked in his direction.
“Well, a bit of a party in our hall for some of the new staff actually. I asked him along so I could find out more about his views – trying to understand what his issue with us is. He hardly spoke to me, except to accuse me in front of other people. Spent more time talking with a hooker – no idea who invited her. Pointless exercise.”
“But what’s the problem with him?” asked Joe, a clean cut rich boy from upstate. “He’s popular, he doesn’t like frats – not everyone does. What’s the deal?”
“The problem is he’s insulting us and telling people we’re not clever or a big deal. His popularity makes us look small. We can’t just whitewash over it – teachers usually realise they shouldn’t interfere with the status quo. He won’t do anything for us when we’re around, and he ridicules us behind our backs, to large groups – lots of students are signing up to his classes now and we don’t get it. Doesn’t he understand our traditions and heritage?” Cai was clearly getting rather irritated.
“So let him have his own views and his own following and see what happens.”
“No one will respect us Joe. No one will come to our barbecues, pizza nights, luaus; they think we’re pathetic!”
“We can’t exactly haze him – he’s not one of us,” a senior said, carefully. “For now, I suggest we intimidate or avoid him.”
Nico looked down at his drink.
“OK, we avoid him,” Cai stated. “Got it? We don’t want trouble. Not yet.”