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Hazing: Policy and Implementation
In the business world, a contract closing is one of the few remaining acts that resembles a ritual. The parties assemble in one room, more or less look each other in the eye, and they sign a formal agreement. Everyone is in one place; nobody can later claim that things happened there of which they were unaware.
At the College, at some point in the past, somewhere somehow somebody came up with the idea of having fraternity brothers and sorority sisters promise contractually not to engage in hazing. Whether the contract was effective back then is open to discussion; over the past decades Dartmouth’s fraternities’ devotion to debauchery and bacchanalia has waxed and waned. However, as we have seen, in the last few years the Greek houses have not presented a pretty picture.
And the hazing contract? Well, it still exists. The contract is usually signed during pledge week, when a pile of the forms are spread out haphazardly on a table and the soon-to-be-brothers are told: “You’ve got to sign this.” Nobody from the College is present, and almost nobody in the room reads the document. As we have already seen, everyone subsequently ignores it. Given the Dean’s ‘s unserious presentation of the form, that’s no surprise. You could say that the College is sending a sotto voce message to students: we don’t care much about this; just sign on the dotted line, and get on with your lives.
If the administration were serious about excising vomelettes and ass beers from campus life, the act of signing the hazing form would have substance. The Dean of the College would be present. The contract would be read aloud. And the fear of God — or at least the wrath of the deanery and the State of New Hampshire — would be in the air. Such an effort could be the start to an honest-to-goodness educational approach to hazing. It would be a contrast to the present slapdash — dare I say pro forma? — effort that we have today.
In case you didn’t take the time to count, the form uses the words “haze” or “hazing” a total of 35 times.
Also, observe how at the end of the first section the hazing form solicits anonymous reports. In this document, anonymity seems less of an impediment than President Kim’s Chief of Staff David Spalding and Associate Dean of the College April Thompson said that it was in explaining the administration’s lack of action after hearing from Andrew Lohse.
Addendum: The above document is just the tip of the iceberg in the administration’s Greek library. For bedtime reading, take a look at the 81-page GREEK LETTER ORGANIZATIONS AND SOCIETIES Handbook and Policies manual. It, too, has a lengthy description of the College’s policy against hazing, and it contains a number of items that give one pause, including:
Basements and Common Areas: All floors, walls and ceilings must be clean and free of residue, odors and stains.
Um, no. Needless to say, while this document is available for the administration to wave around in court, enforcement of its contents is virtually non-existent.
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