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“Deny, Deny, Deny”

Bill Clinton’s famous imprecation to his erstwhile paramour, Monica Lewisnky, to “deny, deny, deny” their relationship, seems to be the basis for the administration’s strategy in dealing with Andrew Lohse ‘12’s allegations about fraternity hazing. In the D’s news story today that accompanied Lohse’s revised column describing hazing practises, Kim administration Chief of Staff David Spalding denied seeing photographs of hazing when he and Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life April Thompson met with Lohse, and SAE President Brendan Mahoney ‘12 denied that hazing practices took place at the frat.

Err… almost. In fact, Spalding was quoted as saying that “he did not recall seeing photographic evidence of hazing in a November 2010 meeting with Lohse.” Did not recall? Geez. That’s a Watergate expression that means ‘I don’t want to lie here, but I sure ain’t going to tell the truth, so I’ll use the I don’t recall expression.’

Sheesh. Funny enough, Spalding is far more assertive in affirming that “Lohse did not present him with videos of alleged hazing incidents.” That’s a real denial.

As for the images, I wrote to Andrew Lohse ‘12 to ask him about whether he showed images to Spalding at their meeting. He replied affirmatively (means yes) and he immediately sent me the below e-mail to April Thompson, which he wrote several months after his November 2010 meeting with Spalding and Thompson.

From: Andrew B Lohse
Date: Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 2:23 PM
Subject: Follow Up?
To: “April D. Thompson”

Hi April,

Just wanted to follow up with you and check in on the status of the
project you mentioned regarding hazing that you had wanted my input
on. It’s been a while since our last phone conversation, and I was
wondering if there were any updates from the last few months.

A link I received from a friend today made me think of the situation
we were discussing; I’m sure you’ve seen this—

http://www.annarbor.com/news/parent-university-of-michigan-fraternity-hazed-pledges-sigma-alpha-epsilon-suspended/

The story really got me thinking about the hazing and substance abuse
issues we had been talking about/working on. In this Michigan case it
seems like a very small piece of information resulted in an actionable
change. It really got me thinking of the kind of change we could
create given the vast information we have at our finger tips. With the
wealth of details, facts, images, and emails I gave to you and Vice
President Spalding
, I’m sure that you—especially with Dr. Kim and his
public health focus at the helm—have put together some really great
projects to start addressing the issue at Dartmouth over the last few
months. I hope I can still help. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to
you sooner, but last we talked it seemed like you already had
something in the works and would reach out to me soon, and I’ve been
busy working and planning a long backpacking trip (which I am on now).

In December, we (Jordan Osserman, Aimee Le, and myself) had flirted
with the idea of going to the press with our story. We talked
extensively with a reporter at the Boston Globe who was very
interested to run with the story “Dartmouth College administration and
globally lauded public health expert president negligent in massive
hazing and substance abuse culture despite entreaties by victimized
students”, but I ultimately told her to kill it because I have a lot
of faith that the administration can make a real change and will step
up to this problem in our community with creative ideas from Dr. Kim
and all of the Deans. Again, like I said in the fall, I really hope I
can help in the process…

Best,
Andrew
[Emphasis added]

As for SAE President Brendan Mahoney ‘12, his denial had even more finesse than Spalding’s. As The D reported, “Mahoney also said he had not personally experienced any of the hazing practices described in Lohse’s statement.” What the heck does “personally experienced” mean? That he didn’t personally…

…swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beers poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks; and vomit on other pledges…

Did he know that it was being done? Did he see it? Did he order it? Again, Lohse says that Mahoney was an integral part of the fun in their pledge year in 2009. And I have received e-mails from other SAE members confirming that such practices regularly occurred.

One would hope that the D’s reporter would polish her skills at cross-examination in order to ferret out facts — especially when dealing with people who would prefer to play semantic games rather than tell the unvarnished and complete truth.

Addendum: Despite Dean Johnson’s efforts to cover the College, Wes Schaub’s supposed anti-hazing campaign consisted of no more than the annual, toothless “please don’t do this” effort. By all reports, hazing throughout the College continued unabated over the most recent terms.

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