In mid-December, a live turkey was tortured and then killed at a party at the KU chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. The turkey was kept in a cage at the annual "turkey pull". Party goers began taunting the bird, first kicking the cage and then chasing and handling the animal causing injury. Then someone killed the bird.
Jennah DiBiase of Terre Haute, Indiana is an animal lover. Sickened and incensed after reading about the incident, DiBiase fired off emails to three deans at Kansas University. Rick Ginsberg, Sally Roberts and Jim Lichtenberg all heard from her.
The email she sent Lichtenberg read, in part: "I came across the article about the students from your University that tortured a turkey to death. While some may find this funny, or think that it was just a turkey, what your students did is deplorable. They should be expelled from your school". Her message went on to say, "Let us hope that when the boys move to the next step of bullying another student, or the assault of one of the female students, you will not find yourselves wishing you had been a little harsher on them when they killed a turkey..."
Evidently KU Psychology Professor Jim Lichtenberg was actually one of those that found the frat house incident funny.
Lichtenberg and the others had been discussing the incident and DiBiases email. He then sent an email to his colleagues and, by accident, that email also went to Jennah DiBiase. Lichtenberg's email, apparently in reply to something Rick Ginsberg had said, read as follows:
" Rick, Rick, Rich. You obviously read for speed, not content. The concern was about a Turkey...not a chicken. An beside, I prefer spanking monkeys. That being said...This person doesn't appear to be KU student...not an SoE student. Any idea why it was sent to us. The Turkey Affair was a fraternity (Beta Theta Pi) offense, not an SoE activity.
The reference to "bullying" is an interesting perspective. I wonder whether Bob Harrington* would want to include this in some "next report" on how Kansas schools are failing to meet the requirements of the law with respect to bullying...notably that statement that requires specific policies against swinging turkeys around by their neck."
Lichtenberg did not respond to an email request by this reporter. The Kansas City Star reported that he said he had a " lapse in judgement" and that he "did not intend to make light of the incident".
He sent DiBiase an email apologizing saying the email he sent "should never have been crafted" and "was a personal and professional embarrassment".
Jennah DiBiase is still upset by the animal cruelty incident and the KU dean's flippant remarks. She says she was not impressed by the flimsy excuse the dean gave, nor by his apology.
Lawrence police were still investigating the incident and at this writing, no charges have been brought. Read the original story about the torture here: http://www.examiner.com/article/turkey-tortured-and-killed-at-ku-fratern...
NOTE: *Lichtenberg was referring to Robert Harrington a University of Kansas professor who created a program to help educators prevent and respond appropriately to bullying,