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HazMat Scandal: The Players

Who are the players in the unfolding HazMat scandal?

Andrew Lohse: Lohse ‘12 is a controversial figure on campus. His columns in The D are written in a colorful, fluid style (actually, they are far more cogent than the first draft of the column that this space published yesterday), and the pieces generate reams of commentary. He has published columns in the Harvard Crimson and the New York Daily News, and one of his recent columns was noted by the NYT Dealbook, the Atlantic, and other publications. However, Lohse is better known for his arrest in the spring term of 2010 for cocaine use, and the subsequent allegation that he harassed the fraternity brother who reported that students were using illegal drugs in the public space of their frat. Does having the whistle blown on him disqualify Lohse forevermore from being a whistleblower himself? I think not. One might even conclude that Lohse learned something from his past experience, and taking an example from the student who went out on a limb to denounce the drug use, he has decided to become a whistleblower himself.

The Administration: My mailbox is full of comments referring to the Catholic Church and Joe Paterno. While the College did hire a new GLOS (Greek Letter Organizations and Societies) director, Wes Schaub, in the summer of 2011, Schaub’s efforts against hazing have been tepid. Visible Greek wear, most notably Alpha Chi’s red siren baseball caps, has been banned during pledge period, but beyond that, nothing has been done publicly, and little has been done behind the scenes. When Lohse met to discuss rampant hazing over a year ago with President Kim’s Chief of Staff David Spalding ‘76 and April Thompson, Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life, they promised to bring his information (as confirmed by videos and pictures) to the attention of President Kim. At that time, Kim, who has shown no lack of energy on the national stage in publicly combating binge drinking (he has just returned from a meeting of his Collaborative in Texas), had various options open to him. To this writer’s mind, he should have assembled Greek leaders and read them the riot act: We are aware of these dangerous practices, they have to stop now, we will ferret them out if they continue, and students will be permanently separated from the College and houses permanently de-recognized if they occur again. But a quick search of The D shows no evidence that President Kim said anything about hazing in 2011. In fact, one has to think that he and his administrators wanted to cover up Lohse’s allegations. That’s not leadership as I understand it.

The D: Ah, The D. Much derided on campus for terminal blandness (yesterday’s paper included a hard-hitting report on Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, the College’s ongoing sustainability efforts, and an extended obituary for an alumnus who had little involvement with Dartmouth after graduation), The D needs to play a role in improving the College. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, as Justice Brandeis wrote, and The D should start to conceive of itself as more than a re-packager of the College’s press releases. As for the paper’s handling of Lohse’s column, as I wrote yesterday, the Editors should have published it after the usual vetting, without passing it around to various other parties.

Dartmouth Students: For a great many undergrads, Lohse’s piece was not news at all. Tales of “ass beers” and “vomelettes” have been making the rounds for years on campus. With over 60% of upperclassmen in Greek organizations, the number of students in, ummm, contact with hazing practices must be high. How long has this kind of thing been going on? Chris Miller ‘63’s The Real “Animal House”: The Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie (2007) doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination regarding his own experiences, but it seems that today’s students have tried to go above and beyond. As to why nobody before Andrew Lohse went public in describing hazing rituals in all of their unsanitary and degrading glory, well, it is a shame for the College (and for past victims, however willing, of this abuse) that we have had to wait for him.

The Class of ‘15: Will the Class of 2015 submit to the usual initiation rites? Or will its members who join fraternities and sororities do so with a higher sense of what it is to be a member of a Greek organization?

Erratum: This post originally noted that Wes Schaub had been hired in the summer of 2010. That information was incorrect, as shown by the D article to which it was linked.

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