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An SAE Brother Comments on Hazing and Andrew Lohse’s Account

In response to Andrew Lohse’s revelations of hazing activities at his fraternity, Dartblog has received a thoughtful set of comments from one of Lohse’s brothers at SAE. The writer confirms many incidents described by Lohse, but disagrees regarding some others.

SAE Beer.jpg

“There are things that need to be said - things that can no longer be denied. Hazing is real and alive at Dartmouth, and we all need to face the facts. I was party to this culture, and I stood by as moral lines were crossed and pledges were hazed. Or I should call them whale-shits, for that indeed was what they, and we, were referred to during pledge term. I certainly can look back now and see that much of what I allowed to pass was wrong. Things were done that should not have been, and fun became abuse. I deeply regret my complicity. I have learned that peer pressure can lead people to do unfortunate and even harmful things, things that their better judgment would otherwise stop them from doing.

First, we must face one reality: a great deal of what Andrew Lohse alleged is true. To deny that is to lie to ourselves. Certainly some people were kept in the dark: our alumni advisor never had a clue about what actually happened in the house. He was openly and blatantly lied to, and the fraternity brothers even organized to create appropriate stories to tell him. Any time we faced trouble, a fiction was quickly created and told to him. My own complicity in lying to him fills me with the most regret. One of the first lessons a pledge learns is “what happens in the house, stays in the house.”

I write tonight as an eyewitness and a member of SAE who was an active member in the fall of 2009, which was Andrew Lohse’s pledge term. Everything that I write here is the truth as I best remember it. I have omitted names to protect personal reputations in our Google-able world. I write not to harm the perpetrators, but to help Dartmouth face reality. Hazing happens and it needs to stop - especially hazing which crosses a line - a line that I admit is arbitrary. Few people would agree that the present legal definition of hazing is an appropriate one. It does little but push all pledging activities underground, lest they see daylight and attract the associated legal problems.

Vomelettes are a normal omelette with vomit as the filling. One night in 2009 such an item was cooked up by one of the brothers, and then presented to some pledges to eat. It was even more disgusting than you imagine. I wasn’t one of the Pledge Trainers that year, so I don’t know how much pressure was applied to the pledges to eat the vomelette. It’s amazing what disgusting things some people will do to impress their brothers. I had never seen a vomelette before or after that night.

On the same night, some pledges were told to lie on a pong table as a fellow pledge pulled his pants down, squatted over them and a beer was poured by a brother down the butt crack of the pledge into the other pledge’s mouth. Several brothers were upset enough by these activities that we discussed amongst ourselves how an inappropriate line had been crossed, and to express our disagreement with these practices. None of us had experienced the same treatment when we had been pledges, and we were confused as to why this level of hazing was being introduced to the new pledges in 2009.

The kiddie pool that Lohse wrote about did not contain vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen or rotten food products, as he has asserted. Some brothers probably told pledges that these things were in the pool, but it really held only water, soy sauce, vinegar, bread, hotdogs and other normal (not rotten) food products. Lohse is way off base here - probably due to the fact that he never saw a pledge term from the position of a brother.

In contrast to Lohse, I never witnessed pledges being forced to drink vinegar, although I did hear tell of it that term. Similarly, there was a rumor that one pledge had vomited blood from the vinegar, but I did not see it.

Everyone in the house was encouraged to vomit on each other, but the act of actually vomiting on another individual happened only rarely. After a dome - a chugging competition where the first person to vomit loses - the winner is often encouraged to “boot on [the loser’s head],” but it rarely happens. Brothers and pledges alike participate in these domes. That year another game called “Roxanne” was played in our house with the brothers of Phi Delta: two brothers from each house lined up face to face and chugged beer and vomited on each other as many times as possible, while The Police’s song “Roxanne” played. Participation, while gross, was completely voluntary.

I never saw anyone forced to do whippets (inhaling nitrous oxide). I saw many people do them, but everyone seemed to quite enjoy them and jump at the opportunity to participate, not be forced into the practice. The situation was similar with other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Many brothers used them, I doubt that anyone was forced. Peer pressure was applied, but it was never an “official part” of pledge term.

I was not trained to treat women with disrespect via pledge term. SAE had no equivalent to “Super Tails.” Indeed we were encouraged to treat the women in our house well, lest they not return. Similarly, we were taught to treat each other with respect and form eternal bonds of brotherhood. Each pledge was required to learn [John Walter Wayland’s] The True Gentleman by heart and recite it at three or four different key junctures during pledge term. The H-Po stakeout that Lohse initiated would only have resulted in the police observing several pledges reciting The True Gentleman around campus. Failure to learn The True Gentlemen was actually the only thing that could lead to “failing” pledge term and not being offered brotherhood.

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

The fraternity culture includes many disgusting and depraved things. However, many, if not most, of these things are voluntary. Even activities which are claimed to be a prerequisite for joining the brotherhood never really are. I have yet to see a pledge punished for refusing to do something. Even drinking is not a requirement. Every year several pledges were able to remain entirely dry during pledge term. However, I think we all can agree that some things go too far.

Andrew Lohse is certainly guilty of embellishment and misunderstanding in his description of his pledge experience, and he has some of his facts wrong. But most of what he claims is true. Dartmouth is better than that. The Fraternities should be better than that, too.”

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