Reactions to “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy”

Animalistic, alcoholic, abominable pre-Wall Street clones?

As a freshman girl at Dartmouth, allegedly the most vulnerable type of person on campus where the Greek system is concerned, I am furious about Rolling Stone’s blatant attack on my school.  It is biased and a despicably skewed representation of the place I gladly call home.  

I love how the Ms. Reitman’s authorities on the damaging effect of fraternities on women are never actual female students.  Apparently a male women and gender’s studies professor, who’s never seen our fraternity basements, and our Dark Knight Andrew Lohse, who prides himself on dating a “hot, skanky” girl senior year and doing well with women, are experts on every Dartmouth girl’s experience.  Most men here aren’t out to victimize women; I feel perfectly safe in a frat basement.  To assert that every time a girl walks into a basement, she will be assaulted by a “true Dartmouth bro” is simply spreading lies based on sensational anecdotes.  To assert that a typical night out at Dartmouth involves booting and hazing is also spreading lies, and it’s offensive.  Dartmouth partying is not a heinous thing.  Stop hating unless you’ve talked to more than a few professors and disgruntled students.

Dartmouth is not a horrible place.  I’ve never felt endangered by any brothers.  The basic rules of survival (i.e. keep an eye on your drink and what’s being put into it, don’t drink too much if you feel like you could be tempted into something you’ll regret, make sure someone you trust knows where you are) exist everywhere from high school house parties to bars and clubs in the real world.  Every single college has men, women, alcohol, sex, and the interesting mixture of all the aforementioned.  Every college has some form of hazing.  My first experience of Dartmouth was not showering for a week, sleeping with no roof over my head, chugging BBQ sauce (my least favorite taste in the entire world), being attacked with flying brownies by Croo members in canoes, and learning ridiculous dances.  I loved Trips immensely.  How dare Rolling Stone spin incredible experiences to be the week unsuspecting high school graduates are molded into the Dartmouth Student.  “Hazed into happiness”?  Is our campus now being attacked for building a sense of an inclusive, welcoming, loving community?  Secondly, there is no “Dartmouth Student.”  There are over 5,000 of us, each with different stories, experiences, and personalities. Sure, there are animals here, and I can’t exactly say frat parties don’t have a level of griminess.  If you want a clean, sanitary basement, or no basement, party at Phi Tau or sororities and stop complaining.

To trust a known criminal and proud womanizer who used drugs, turned on The Dartmouth Review, turned on his brothers, and participated wholeheartedly in hazing himself, is just pathetic.

Some reactions to the article by commenters on Rolling Stone’s website:

“Every college has problems with binge drinking and its side-effects — including Dartmouth — and those problems must be solved. But, this strangely one-sided piece paints a picture of Dartmouth that looks almost nothing like the Dartmouth I attended. My DOC Trip was one of the most positive defining experiences of my life, and most of my Dartmouth friends now are accomplished doctors, lawyers, film and television producers, geologists, computer engineers, novelists, teachers, and journalists. None of my Dartmouth friends became a drug addict or alcoholic at Dartmouth, and every one took their academic performance very seriously.

I’m not sure why Andrew Lohse chose to spend his time at Dartmouth drinking so heavily and doing so much cocaine, but it sounds like the school wasn’t the right fit for him. I’m suspect no college would have been. I was never hazed at Dartmouth.

Binge drinking, sexual assault, and hazing are things that should be stopped at every college (Ivy and otherwise). In that sense, I hope something good comes from this article. But I’m surprised that Rolling Stone was willing to publish such a myopic piece without spending almost any time on the enormous majority of students — both men and women — who loved and still love Dartmouth. The piece simply isn’t balanced or fair. It’s hard to call it journalism.” –Dartmouth alum

“…But Rolling Stone, I strongly disagree with your decision to take Andrew Loshe’s story and turn it into a symbol and vanguard for Dartmouth’s culture and Dartmouth’s soul.

You demonize so many aspects of Dartmouth culture that actually make the college a phenomenal unique place to spend 4 years. Most laughable is your attempt to demonize freshman DOC trips. Yes, eating green eggs and ham is silly, even child like. But is it a form of hazing attempting to remake freshman into new Dartmouth clones? No. DOC trips allow freshmen to see that its okay to be silly, its okay to wear funny clothes, its okay to smell after not showering and hiking around the woods for days, and its okay to try new things.

You also stereotype Dartmouth students as a corporate-alcoholics-in-training with no souls and expensive taste in clothing and drugs. Let me first explain that it is impossible to fit “the typical Dartmouth student” into a box. There is no typical Dartmouth student. We come from all over the globe. Some of us play football. Some of us build trails and cabins. Some of us run global health initiatives. Some of us study really hard. Some of us party very hard and do lose sight of what is important in the long run. Most of us swim in more than one of these streams. Many of us wear a lot of second hand clothes and flair from goodwill and the West Leb Kmart. When we leave Dartmouth, we traverse equally diverse career paths. I have friends who work in online retail, who teach in charter schools, who work for health non-profits, who go to medical school, who go for art history PhDs or social work degrees. I have friends who go to law school, who work for the government, who work for campaigns, who work in fashion. I have friends that work for Americore, Teach for America, Partners in Health, KIPP charter schools, among other service organizations. 

Yes, plenty of Dartmouth alums make their way into the financial sphere. But the alums I know who now work in finance were known on campus for their involvement in DREAM (a mentoring program for local under resourced students) or for leading the campaign against sexual assault and not for preppy clothes or violence toward their pledge brothers or expensive drug habits.

Rolling Stone, the picture you compose of the Dartmouth student is false. There is no one Dartmouth student. And if you were to gather a composite of the Dartmouth student body, the attributes you’ve chosen to describe us as a community are false, ridiculous, and harmful.

Similarly, you chose to use a narrow, biased, and skewed lens to examine the Dartmouth greek system. Yes, there are hazing problems that need to be addressed within the Greek system. Yes, there are even drinking problems that need to be addressed both in regards to the Greek system and in regards to Dartmouth more generally. Perhaps increased conversation and action on the part of the Dartmouth administration will serve as the only good that will come out of the muckraking spotlight created by Andrew Lohse. 

But I must reiterate that so many students have positive Greek experiences that do not involve vomiting on one another. I gained great friends , a platform to develop leadership skills, a physical space to make my home in for two plus years, and some incredible memories (apple picking, harris cabin trips, dinners at the lodge, BBQs, meetings, etc). I gained confidence in myself and my identity (see previous post responding to the Boston Globe article for more on this track).

I’m sorry to rant but as Daniel Webster said so many school Dartmouth “is a small college” and “yet there are those who love it.” I love Dartmouth. I am so blessed to have received such a tremendous education during my four years there. I admit that the college has major imperfections, but it is a far cry from the shallow cesspool of bodily fluids that Lohse describes. My Dartmouth is a place where a classmate you barely know would give you notes and go over concepts if you missed class. My Dartmouth is a place where everyone lies on the green all day during the first warm spells of spring. My Dartmouth is a stunningly beautiful college.”–Current Dartmouth student Lucy Pollard

“As a Dartmouth alumni I’m all for administration taking a strong action against hazing. However, I’m sad that a magazine that I respect gave such a large soap box to such a self-absorbed jerk. I graduated long before he came to campus, but seriously? You’re going to do a 6 page article about a serious issue and make it 90% about a kid that is claiming he’s just doing the right thing but really just lashing out because he didn’t get what he wanted. He sounds like the worse example of what’s wrong with fraternities at Dartmouth. They completely glossed over to what he did to the kid who turned him in for doing coke. They also very lightly touch upon “anger issues”, “drinking problems”, womanizing, etc. He sounds like a horribly self-destructive person that isn’t happy with choices he made and is now seeking to point the finger at anyone but himself.

One of the worst characteristics that Dartmouth brings out of students is the idea that they should be able to do whatever they want to whomever they want without any consideration or compassion to others and Lohse has this in spades.

I hope that Dartmouth makes positive changes over this bad PR that was probably long overdue, but I hope Lohse gets what he so richly deserves.” –Dartmouth alum

Interesting to see that Janet Reitman has returned to the collegiate beat after her dubious work on the Duke Lacrosse scandal. I highly recommend Prof. KC Johnson’s blog “Durham in Wonderland” for a good description of Ms. Reitman’s journalistic prowess. Here is a sample:

After going through the 10 worst op-eds/editorials yesterday, today’s bracket of the blog’s version of March Madness—the worst of the case—features the 10 worst “news” articles. As with yesterday’s bracket, the worst of the worst ranked is #1. Reader nominations are welcome in the comment thread. Worst of the Duke arts and sciences faculty publications come tomorrow….

7.) Janet Reitman, “Sex and Scandal at Duke,” Rolling Stone, July 2006. That the article was cited in the Campus Culture Initiative report (one of only two bibliographical sources) and is assigned in Anne Allison’s springtime class, “Group of 88 for Credit,” gives some sense of its quality. Reitman employed the Group of 88’s favorite tactic—quotes from anonymous alleged students—to prove her case that Duke females have a “retro view of rape.” She subsequently blamed editors for having created the impression that she was describing the Duke social scene as a whole. And since she discussed a wild party at a fraternity that doesn’t even exist on Duke’s campus, Reitman appears to be the perfect example of a journalist whose goal was to find facts that would fit her story, and make them up as necessary.” –Skeptical Rolling Stone reader

 What we have here are two unreliable people who love to spin sensational stories that met and invented a world where Dartmouth students are monstrous, disgusting clones ready to take over the corporate world.  Every place has its animals.  Dartmouth is not a zoo.  If you want the truth, take this article with enough grains of salt to bury it.


–Meghan Hassett