Stop the Presses!

Somewhere down the road, the powers-that-be decided that a place on the national stage is good for the College. President Kim fully embraced this philosophy during his tenure, increasing the visibility of Dartmouth on an international level. He often liked to bandy his favorite John Sloan Dickey quote, “The world’s troubles are your troubles.” Perhaps he never considered that our troubles in Hanover need not be the world’s.

I write this neither to blame President Kim for last year’s hazing fiasco, nor to single him out as the only Dartmouth president fond of national attention. James O. Freedman hammed it up like
 none other, much to his chagrin
 when it cost him the presidency
of Harvard University. Jim Wright
 too enjoyed the spotlight, for his 
admirable work with veterans as
 much as for his misguided friction with the Greek system and 
the messy alumni lawsuit that
 occurred during his tenure.

The takeaway here is that
 the assumption that the national
 spotlight is good for Dartmouth 
should not be taken for granted.
 Consider, for instance, the events
 of last year. The appointment of 
Dr. Kim—the first Asian-American president of an Ivy League
 institution—made headlines, as
 did a number of smaller events,
including the College’s response to the Haiti and Japan earthquakes. Dartmouth was a hot topic in a major way.

Thus, when Andrew Lohse sounded the alarm bell, Rolling Stone came chomping at the bit. Not even the dual announcements of President Kim’s escalation to the World Bank and the renaming of Dartmouth Medical School could quell the consequent outrage and disbelief. The story was picked up by a number of publications, tarnishing both the reputation of the college and of its president.

This incident should stand alone in our minds. It is not the same as, for instance, the scandalous 1998 “Ghetto Party,” which afforded Dartmouth a slew of unwanted articles, including one in the Grey Lady. The difference is this: last year’s scandal has resulted in this year’s consequences.

Fraternities are facing pure cockamamie, embodied in gross overregulation handed down from the administration. Sophomores are being subjected to the senseless ramblings of Wes Schaub, who has reportedly bombarded the wide-eyed ‘15s with statements comparing fraternity pledge to domestic abuse, sexual assault, and torture.

What’s more, the Panhellenic Council has shelved plans to bring a new sorority to campus, citing the “very negative light cast on the Greek community.” Bottom line: these developments are real, they are tangible, and if Charlotte Johnson and Wes Schaub have their way, they will be permanent. It should come as little surprise that administrators and students alike consider it exceedingly likely that at least one house will be derecognized by the end of the term.

The events of last year left a bad taste in the administration’s mouth. Unsurprisingly, they have reacted. Gone are the “convener” days of Dr. Kim, replaced by the scheming Demetrius and Chiron in the personage of Charlotte Johnson and Wes Schaub. One can only hope the two will meet a metaphorical end resembling that of their Shakespearean counterparts (bone up on your “Titus Andronicus” if that last reference left you scratching your head).

As an elite institution, Dartmouth will always be in the national spotlight in one capacity or another. That much is inevitable and not necessarily negative. What we can question, though, is the value of deliberately drawing attention to the school and all of her complexities. The recent policy reforms provide a compelling argument for a tempered distrust of the public eye.

–Adam I.W. Schwartzman