Rookie Knight | Jurkiewicz & Friedrichsen

This scenario follows Clara Bishop, a first-year student, who is trying to join the chess club at her university. The chess club is very large and popular here, and it is said that it can be very selective with its members. Clara is at university on scholarship, and misses her meeting with her scholarship advisor, Julia. Clara sends Julia an email apologizing for missing the meeting, and Julia sets up a virtual meeting instead. During the meeting, Clara discloses some information about why she missed the meeting – an event known as “Rookie Knight” – that is alarming to Julia.

Keywords: hazing, student organizations, mandatory reporters

Primary Characters

  1. Clara Bishop (She/Her/Hers): New member of the Chess Club; first year; scholarship student
  2. Julia Scramble (She/They): Graduate Advisor Scholarship Program
  3. Taylor Queensly (She/Her/Hers): President of the Chess Club; senior
  4. Geoff Kingston (He/Him/His): Vice President of the Chess Club; junior

Campus Context

Castle University is a public university nestled in Providence, Rhode Island. There are about 20,000 undergraduates enrolled in the institution. The Chess Club at Castle University is very prestigious and was one of the first organized clubs created at the University.

Opening Context

Hi Julia,

So sorry about missing our meeting this morning. Chess club has been taking up a lot of my time. I actually missed all of my classes before our planned meeting. My legs have been so sore after our last chess event, so I haven’t been able to walk anywhere.

Can we reschedule for later this week?


Clara Bishop

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are your initial responses to this email?
  2. How would you follow up with this student?

Later That Day

In a virtual meeting later that day with Clara, Julia asks how the Chess Club has been going. Clara discloses that she was very stressed out leading up to the “Rookie Knight.” Clara states that she has been sore since that event. Julia asks for more information about “Rookie Knight” as they are unfamiliar with this event.

Clara is initially hesitant because she was told not to talk about it by the President of the Chess Club. Clara says, “All of the new people and I who want to join the club were invited over to the Vice President’s house off-campus for “Rookie Knight”. During the week leading up to the meeting, some of the current members would come up to those of us who wanted to join and give us clothes or props, and a white or black bracelet. I was supposed to be a “Knight,” so they gave me a stick horse, but other students who were supposed to be “Rooks” were given things like bags of bricks. We were told that we had to keep these with us and wear the clothes and bracelet for the full week and bring them to “Rookie Knight.”

Clara continued, “When we got there, all of us were brought to the garage and there was a large chalk chessboard on the floor. It was weird because there were only 32 of us and I didn’t see some of my friends that were also interested in the Chess Club. We were told to grab our props and stand on either side of the board wherever our pieces were placed. Once we were all in our places, we were told that the President and Vice President would be controlling us and we would be playing “Human Sized Chess.”

Julia listens attentively, which encourages Clara to share more about the event. “At first we thought it would be really fun, and we all were really excited to play. But then when the first piece got out, the President said that they had to go and wait in the basement and told us that the losing team would not be allowed to join the chess club. We got worried and started trying to give advice so that our teams would win, and the President and Vice President would stop the game for a few minutes to yell at us every time we did, making the game take longer. The president also told us that if we sat down at all we would not be allowed to join the club. I got out probably about 40 minutes of standing and moving around, and I went down to the basement. We weren’t able to see or hear what was going on, so we had no idea who was doing better until new people came down and shared updates.”

Clara’s voice cracks. little as she finishes her story. “The game lasted for another 30 minutes at least before all of the players with white bracelets were brought to the basement. Some of them were crying, and all of the players with black bracelets were brought back upstairs. We sat in the basement for a few minutes before the Vice President came down and started yelling at us, telling us he was disappointed in us and that we weren’t good enough to be in the chess club. He screamed for about 10 minutes while the other team was upstairs cheering. As the Vice President was about to leave, he turned back and said ‘Just kidding! Welcome to the chess club! You’re all in!’ and started laughing at us. We all came upstairs and there was food and cake in the garage, and chairs for us to sit in.”

Clara realizes she has told Julia everything and states she doesn’t want anyone to get in trouble and it all worked out in the end. She does not want to leave the chess club. Clara asks Julia not to tell anyone else about it, and says she is worried she might lose her scholarship for talking about it.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can Julia support Clara during the meeting?
  2. How would you define what happened to Clara and the other newer members?
  3. What were the red flags before, during, and after Rookie Knight?
  4. Why might Clara say that what happened worked out okay in the end?
  5. What are Julia’s next steps? Think about policies, student support, education, etc.
  6. What education do President Taylor and Vice President Geoff and other members of the Chess Club need related to leadership, personal values, organizational ethics, and campus policy?

Sara Jurkiewicz (she/her/hers): Sara is a second-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel program at Bowling Green State University. Sara’s assistantship is with Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Gavin Friedrichsen (he/him/his): Gavin is a second-year graduate student in the College Student Personnel program at Bowling Green State University. Currently Gavin is working full-time as a Coordinator for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution in BGSU’s Office of the Dean of Students.