The Cost of Scandals

A string of independent, albeit shameful, scandals will mar our College with ignominy for the foreseeable future.

A string of independent, albeit shameful, scandals will mar our College with ignominy for the foreseeable future.

Dimensions season gives freshmen a great new look. Finally we shift up the totem pole as wide-eyed, slightly more pubescent students swarm the campus hopelessly lost and endlessly curious. Coinciding with the onset of spring, I find it hard to hold back a smile during this annually renewed cycle.

The challenging work that Dimensions crew, tour guides, and other student groups tackle furnishes the College with continued strength and ensures its future excellence. Though obvious, this certainty is easily underappreciated — at Dartmouth it may seem our applicants will always be as talented as they are numerous.

Coming from a small high school, I know every rising senior interested in Dartmouth. As April acceptances approached, I eagerly anticipated receiving sundry Facebook messages, texts, and emails from students eager to visit. The college visiting process is exciting, and I was glad to adopt the role of host.

Two weeks ago I contacted one of my closer friends letting him know how excited I was for his visit. Though I felt tempted to shamelessly campaign before his visit, I restrained my impulses and simply waited for the magic of the visit to explain all my sentiments.

The week before his slated visit I sent him a message conveying my excitement. Later that night I received a string of responses.

“My parents have been getting in the way big time over Dartmouth,” he wrote me. “They got scared because they saw that Rolling Stone article and all those random [Parkurst occupation] articles.”

In an apologetic string of sentences he informed me he wasn’t coming to visit Dartmouth. Our conversation continued as I tried to level with him, pointing out that his alternative schools experienced similar scandals. He agreed with me wholeheartedly, yet we both lamented the fact that his parents refused to pay for a visit.

The other day, he posted on his Facebook page that he officially enrolled in the Duke Class of 2018. Duke is a great school and I have no doubt he will cherish his time there for the rest of his life — but the bitter irony is Janet Reitman, who penned the now infamous Dartmouth hazing article for Rolling Stone, wrote a similarly scandalous article about Duke lacrosse members who allegedly raped a stripper. Those lacrosse players were later acquitted in court and Rolling Stone removed Reitman’s article from their website.

This is the unfortunately indirect nature of campus reform. Matters unsettled through administrative mediators either flounder or combust. And when they combust, they burn bright — consider the Ultra Violet campaign to “Get Angry, Take Action” against Darmouth’s “rape culture”. The campaign posted a petition to their website March 13, and by March 14 it boasted over 50,000 signatures. At the beginning of April they launched an attack ad campaign through Facebook that specifically targeted high school seniors. It didn’t take long for other news sources like Huffington Post to confound the facts central to the case. Though the victim was raped in her freshman dorm, journalists endemically claimed her rape occurred in a fraternity.

Of course any parent unfamiliar with Dartmouth would be troubled reading these articles. But the tragedy behind the cost of scandals is not limited to their factual inconsistencies or their relative ineffectiveness; the tragedy behind these scandals is the otherwise daily interactions they mask.

My experience at Dartmouth has surpassed the sticker price of tuition in its value. No article detailing the extensive training fraternity officers undergo to prevent sexual violence, no article describing the Vagina monologues (speeches that celebrate feminism and womanhood), and no article capturing the elusive magic of the DOC trips experience will ever be as viral as the Rolling Stone hazing article.

Despite the infinite series of positive experiences constituent to the Dartmouth experience, a string of independent, albeit shameful, scandals will mar our College with ignominy for the foreseeable future. And though parents may prevent their students who dream of going to Dartmouth from enrolling, these actions are isolated from their own erasure.

Though I hope all students infatuated with Dartmouth should get a chance to fulfill their dreams and enroll here, the truth is polemical to reason, polemical to fact, and polemical to the combined passion of Dartmouth students.