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Lohse Describes His Interactions With the College Administrators
At Dartblog’s request, Andrew Lohse ‘12 has described his discussions regarding hazing with College administrators and their reactions to his information.
On Tuesday November 16th 2010 at 1:00 pm I met with David Spalding and April Thompson in a conference room at Collis to discuss fraternity hazing. I brought with me to that meeting a dossier of fraternity hazing and substance abuse related information — including at least one picture of SAE pledges very obviously about to be hazed (I had others but am not sure if I had them with me at the time or showed them to those present. One was stored my cell phone), and one picture showing myself leaning over a fellow pledge vomiting in a trash can following pledge meetings hazing.
I spoke from an outline of points I had prepared about my own experiences and my observations and research about these practices in Dartmouth social life. I described to Spalding and Thompson the vast majority of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s pledge term hazing. This was a very hard conversation to have, given the levels of shame, embarrassment, and guilt I experienced for being involved with such processes, and the fact that I still had friends in that organization and was still considered a “suspended” member.
When I passed across the table to Spalding the said image of imminent hazing, an image of the pledge class standing in front of a table holding more than 550 cups of beer and explained that hazing experience — which was certainly not as bad as the kiddie pool from sink night — I registered Spalding’s expression as being aghast, even white faced. He remarked that he had never seen or heard anything like that before. Spalding’s statement to The Dartmouth that he “does not recall seeing pictures” during this meeting is evasive and inaccurate.
The meeting concluded with Thompson and Spalding promising that action would be taken in regard to the said hazing, as that fall’s pledge term was well under way. I reiterated that at the time I wished to remain anonymous to protect myself from what would most likely be bitter retaliation (as I myself had seen in my own much-regretted experiences of May 2010 with Phil Aubart and the SAE “DartCoke” event). They made protecting my anonymity a priority, a fact I appreciated.
At that time I had not entertained the notion that my anonymity would handicap their efforts in any way. Researching similar cases at other schools, I have never found that a student wishing to remain anonymous delegitimized either his experiences or a university’s ability to investigated and end abusive practices.
On Tuesday, November 30th 2010 at 1:42 AM, I followed up with April Thompson regarding our meeting and regarding the imminent “hell night” hazing to be held on December 1st 2010. I had not heard from her since our meeting. She soon responded about a forthcoming Hanover Police “sting”. I wrote a lengthy email suggesting that such a “sting” might not be the best way of addressing the issue, as it might only produce a small change in the system (one fraternity’s derecognition) and not across the board change, as SAE is not the only fraternity to employ abusive hazing practices. Further, I suggested that such a “sting” might in fact create sympathy for the Greek system.
At the time of that discussion, I was not aware that, as The Dartmouth reported on January 25th 2012, “Administrators also discussed plans for “Hell Night,” the culminating event of pledge term, with the then-president of SAE to ensure that the event would not violate the College’s hazing policy, Spalding said.”
This statement reveals that Spalding spoke with SAE prior to the “sting”, thus informing them of the scrutiny they were unknowingly under. Obviously, due to that communication, the fraternity altered its plans and the element of surprise was lost. It is obvious that such a turn of events would compromise the “sting” and not produce an accurate revelation of the practices.
In an email on Monday, February 21st 2011 at 2:23 PM, I followed up with Thompson, further referencing the pictures that were displayed in the November 16th meeting. I wrote: “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.” Thompson did not respond to my message. No such plan was outlined.
I followed up again on Saturday April 16th 2011 at 6:23 AM, asking Thompson what updates she could relate to me about President Kim and Spalding’s assumed action to address the hazing issue. Thompson did not respond to that message either.
In July 2011 two members of Dartmouth’s SAE chapter attended a national or regional meeting where they were confronted by an administrator for the fraternity’s national organization regarding the hazing information I assume that they received from April Thompson. I had a conversation with a fraternity brother who expressed fear over the fact that national was aware of the house’s hazing practices. The fraternity held a meeting to discuss how to move forward regarding hazing since the next term would be a pledge term (the summer is not a pledge term). I felt falsely optimistic at that point that change could be achieved from the inside. I had a conversation with a fellow ‘12 brother, who was skeptical about whether or not hazing “built brotherhood” on this point.
On Monday July 11th, 2011 at 4:18 PM I emailed April Thompson expressing this optimism, and expressing that it seemed like the “backchannel” discussion could have forced a change. No change occurred and the rituals continued unabated that fall. I left the College on October 31st for a medical leave.
All of the emails referenced in this statement were sent to The Dartmouth as a part of corroborating the story and Op-Ed of January 25th 2012. They were aware of all of this information when they printed those reports.
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