Lohse ’12 Uncovers Evils of Fraternity Hazing Practices and the Kim Administration’s Apathy

A column written by Andrew Lohse ’12, scheduled to be printed at a later date in The D, was leaked today and graphically depicts the disgusting hazing practices that occur at Dartmouth fraternities. It is common knowledge that pledge terms at Dartmouth can be difficult and demeaning, but outspoken Lohse leaves no details out of his piece, revealing shocking information to the greater Dartmouth community.

The saddest part, though, is that the Kim administration was already aware of the scope of these hazing practices performed by Dartmouth men. The president’s office has known for a whole year. What is he actually doing to address this serious issue? 

Now that this article has been released, the administration will have ample time to formulate a response. However, at this point, Kim’s actions will speak louder than his words.

A version of Lohse’s article is posted below for those who have not already seen it.

                                                                                                                    — Elizabeth A. Reynolds           

 

Telling The Truth

We attend a strange school where our president, one of the world’s foremost public health experts, has shown an alarming reticence regarding what can only be described as a public health crisis of the utmost importance: the endemic physical and psychological abuse culture that occupies the heart of Dartmouth’s Greek-life community. President Kim’s sterling credentials in public health are fundamentally at odds with his administration’s refusal to crack down on the pervasive hazing, substance abuse, and sexual assault culture that dominates campus social life.

I understand these problems because I myself have endured them. If I were to fully enumerate all of the dehumanizing experiences my friends and I have survived here — experiences that were ironically advertised to us as indispensable elements of the “Dartmouth Experience”— I would have too few words left in this column to adequately explain how the Kim administration has systematically failed us by refusing to address this crisis. So I’ll just fill you in on a few of them.

Among my many experiences as a fraternity pledge, I was: forced to swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen, and rotten food products; forced to eat an omelet made of vomit; forced to chug cups of vinegar until I was afraid that I would vomit blood like one of my fellow pledges did; forced to inhale nitrous oxide; degraded psychologically on a daily basis; forced to drink beers poured down a fellow pledge’s ass crack; vomited on regularly, and encouraged to vomit on others.

As a pledge, I ceased to be a human being; instead, I became a “whale shit”. In the process, I, my fellow pledges, and all pledges since, have been trained to treat Dartmouth women with about the same respect with which we treated ourselves: none.

One fellow pledge shared with me once that he was so troubled by his experiences that he spent six months in counseling dealing with their emotional and psychological effects. He then became a pledge trainer himself, seemingly unable to break the cycle of abuse he had been so tortured by. One of the things I’ve learned at Dartmouth, one thing that sets a psychological precedent for many Dartmouth men, is that good people can do awful things to one other — for absolutely no reason. There is an intoxicating nihilism at the center of our culture, one which fraternities try to downplay under the pretense of plausible deniability. The sad truth is that my experience is not the exception, but rather the norm.

The administration is fully aware of what goes in in our basements; I know this because I have had frank conversations with several high-level administrators. This column should not be a surprise to Dr. Kim, since it was with one of his Vice Presidents and one of his Deans with whom I initially met and shared the troubling, graphic story of my experience as a Dartmouth man, replete with pictures, text, video, and dates, times, and places of future acts of hazing. This Vice President vowed that the information I provided him would cross Dr. Kim’s desk, and assured me that something would be done about it. Either it did not, or the administration realized that to act would require a courage they lacked – courage that is required of all college administrations under New Hampshire state law.

Dr. Kim, I have a question for you: what will it take for you and your administration to decisively address hazing, sexual assault and substance abuse? If one student speaking out isn’t good enough for you, what is?

It has now been over a year since I shared this information with the College administration. In November 2010, Keene Sentinel columnist Elayne Clift wrote a piece entitled “What Do We Have To Do To Get The High Out of Higher Education?” which discussed in graphic detail Dartmouth’s hazing and abuse culture. Clift’s column garnered an evasive, platitude-laden response from then-Dean of the College Sylvia Spears, entitled “Dartmouth Takes Drinking Seriously”. Spears chose only to discuss alcohol policy and did not at all engage with the graphic descriptions of hazing laid out in Clift’s column.

The administration could not fully discredit Clift’s allegations for one very important reason — I had already given them the exact same information. It is a small college, but there are those of us who feel the need to tell the truth about it.

Andrew Lohse ‘12