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President Kim on the Cardiovascular Virtues of Dartmouth’s Fraternities

Sometimes President Kim cracks me up. He is so focused on being a doctor that he is unable to see beyond the medical health issues in virtually any situation. It’s like he is wearing blinders. I guess that the saying is true: you can take the doctor out of the hospital, but you can’t take the hospital out of the doctor. (You might also wonder if Kim actually had a full liberal arts education — or whether he was such a slavish pre-med that he never raised up his head at the University of Iowa and at Brown to learn that there are concerns beyond medicine in the world.)

In yet another interview, this one with the Austin Statesman, about his alcohol collaborative (the group recently had a meeting in Austin, Texas, which he attended), he described the virtues of Dartmouth’s fraternities as follows:

Kim: I think the Greek system at Dartmouth leads to the development of wonderfully close relationships. Research shows that if you have a lot of friends that you’ve made at a young age and you keep them for your whole life, you actually have better cardiovascular outcomes. You have less heart disease, and you have fewer heart attacks.

That’s a first for me. The College’s frats have been criticized for many things, and even praised on occasion, but I have never heard them cited as a way to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Amusingly enough, the Austin Statesman interviewer was a little sharper than President Kim expected. He replied:

But is that a result of the friendships, or is that a result of something else that produced those relationships?

After a little two-step to get himself out of difficulty, Kim steered the interview back to his message.

Kim: Who knows? But it’s highly correlated. It’s a good thing. The bad thing is that kids binge-drink, and out of that comes assaults, including sexual assaults. We’re going to try to lead in terms of tackling binge drinking and sexual assault directly. And we realized if we were serious about tackling our binge drinking problem, we couldn’t do it on our own.

They ain’t so dumb down in Texas. I wonder what they think about college presidents from New Hampshire.


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