Cow poop fundraiser comes up roses

By Scott Green

The Democratic primary has turned extremely bitter, and with the presidency hanging in the balance and pundits trying to make sense of everything, it is more important than ever to have a serious discussion about something else.

Fortunately, Monday’s The Daily Illini featured an article by Paolo Cisneros entitled “‘Mad’ cow leads chase through campus streets.” The article was about a fraternity-run charity event called “Dumps for Dollars” that was so nauseating and distasteful that I naturally called the frat’s president, Matt McNamara, to confirm the details so I could share them with everybody.

According to Matt, Alpha Epsilon Pi rented Bessie the cow (cow’s name changed to protect anonymity) to amble around in a small pen on their lawn where the ground had been spray painted into twelve-inch squares. Whoever bought the $5 square on which the cow went number two would win $500; the losers, incidentally, were the people on whose squares nobody went to the bathroom.

So it was a really sound idea: A bunch of fraternity guys rented a cow to poop on their lawn, many of them drinking beverages that Matt assured me were not alcoholic. Surprisingly, things did not go as planned. First, Bessie refused to be a good sport and, in blatant defiance of the event’s rules, left her deposit on the line between two squares. “The dump fell in such a way that we split it,” Matt said. “They got $250 apiece.”

After the cow produced the sweet smell of victory (ha ha), she got restless and decided to escape. She leapt over the fence and ran into the parking lot for reasons that don’t make any sense, unless she was somehow unhappy about being penned in and yelled at by frat boys. After she was corralled, Bessie began charging the fence and escaped again, this time leading a procession down Second Street in Champaign. Luckily, some residents of a nearby apartment building had a pickup truck with a lasso in the back, and they were able to help wrangle the cow and get her back to her owner. I swear this is true.

Naturally, this is cause for alarm. “Dumps for Dollars” is obviously a gateway wager, one that can lead to problem gambling such as betting on where an elephant will poop. Imagine the financial drain on the University to put these students through Gamblers Anonymous. (“Hi, my name is Joshua F., and as of today, I have gone 12 whole months without placing a bet on a farm animal.”)

In running the event, Alpha Epsilon Pi also abandoned the first rule of frat philanthropy: Use it as a thinly veiled attempt to attract women. I was in a fraternity when I was an undergrad, and we also did charity events. Most of these were organized by our philanthropy chair, Phil Kaufman. Phil took his job very seriously and organized a kickball tournament that, by his definition, was highly successful. “The Tri Delts participated,” Phil explained.

The tournament benefited the Champaign Humane Society because we all believed in the importance of protecting innocent animals. Also because, as Phil told me, sororities would think it was cute. “Ultimately, it was just to get our name out there to the girls, that is correct,” Phil said.

That’s not to say “Dumps for Dollars” was without the fairer sex. For instance, the cow was female. Also Sarah Segal, a freshman in animal sciences, was in attendance, one of about 20 or 30 girls who showed up. “The cow peed near my square, but it was on the other side where it pooped,” Segal told me, expressing sincere feminine disappointment.

In the process of getting the whole story, I tried to get in touch with Alpha Epsilon Pi’s philanthropy chair, Marc Kovarsky. Before I was able to reach him, I accidentally wound up on the phone with his mother. “I think they learned something from the experience,” Ila Kovarsky said. “I kind of wish I was there.”

Overall, I have to give Alpha Epsilon Pi credit. They raised over $2,000 for charity, their lawn is now fertile enough for this year’s corn crop, and they’ve hit on a way to settle the Democratic primary. What we’ll do is, we’ll bring in a cow and assign each candidate half of its pen…

Scott is a second-year law student. He plans to bribe next year’s cow.