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Cocaine: Aubart, Lohse and Kim, Oh My!

Aubart3.jpgBefore there was Andrew Lohse ‘12, the whistleblower about fraternity hazing practices, there was Phil Aubart ‘10, who, ironically, denounced Lohse and other brothers at SAE in the spring of 2010 for using cocaine in the public areas of their fraternity house. Aubart was SAE’s house manager, responsible for the frat’s physical plant. As he clearly understood, the abuse of drugs in a student’s room would bring sanctions down only on the user; the same activities in public spaces would put the house at risk. After warning his brothers, and being rebuffed, Aubart called in Safety & Security, who, in turn, notified the Town of Hanover Police. Drug charges were filed against certain members, as reported in The D, and when several of them reacted menacingly towards Aubart, witness tampering charges were laid, too. Aubart moved out of SAE’s house and stopped interacting with the Dartmouth chapter.

But Aubart had larger goals than protecting his house. He was disgusted by the commonplace use of drugs like cocaine among Dartmouth students, and he made his concerns known to members of the College administration at the highest level. In the below e-mail dated May 26 at 1:49am, he wrote to Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students Lisa Thum; Dean of the College Sylvia Spears; assistant Dean of Residential Life and director of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Deb Carney; and even President Jim Kim himself.

The most important part of his e-mail:

“I pray that I did not take this stand to have it be forgotten in four years with the complete turnover of students here…

I feel that there are ideas out there to combat the somewhat prevalent use of cocaine on campus and that we should pursue such an objective.”

Aubart Coke1.jpg

That same morning, Aubart received direct replies from everyone to whom he wrote, including President Kim. The frank title of Aubart’s e-mail, “Cocaine in Fraternities,” and the same header in the responses of all of his correspondents, indicate that nobody could have had any illusions as to the subject of his e-mail.

Aubart Coke2.jpg

Aubart Coke3.jpg

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Aubart Coke5.jpg

Aubart was very direct in describing what he wanted to the various administrators and to President Kim. And the responses that he received were heartfelt and personally supportive — or so they seemed. But was any action taken? Inside sources tell me that several senior staff members offered up recommendations for specific measures to reduce student drug use. But the same sources say that these ideas were quashed at the very highest levels of the College’s administration.

Why? As a medical doctor, and someone who never, ever misses an opportunity to tell the Dartmouth community that student health and safety are his highest concern, one would think that Jim Kim would have ordered his administration to leap into action. Nope. Just as Andrew Lohse’s private reports of widespread hazing were buried when brought to the President’s attention six months later in November, so was Aubart’s plea deep-sixed — even though binge drinking and sexual assault were front and center in campus dialogue.

The only explanation that I can imagine for Kim’s inaction is that binge drinking and sexual assault are already part of the nation’s ongoing conversation about student life in institutions of higher education. In a way, they are safe subjects: problems that everyone recognizes and that many organizations are already studying. But it would have taken a good measure of moral courage — and possibly the acceptance of a hit to Dartmouth’s reputation — for Dr. Kim to introduce new topics to that discourse, and publicly admit for the first time that the College has a hard drug problem — and later on, to openly say the same about hazing.

As we have seen, courage and forthrightness have been in short supply in Hanover for a good while now. PR and image management trumps them, just as a concern for appearances and brand management trump student health.

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