Boys will be boys…. thoughts on hazing, fraternities, fair Dartmouth and a renowned college president who stumbled… or did he?

March 14, 2012 | Author: | Posted in Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Article Archive

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I have total recall of this matter. It was1966 and I was about to be a sophomore at alma mater… and my parents were worried… worried that I, their darling, their first-born son, was becoming a wonk… all work, no play, a very dull boy indeed. Sure, I was #1 in my class, a certain summa in the making, but not well rounded, never the lithe master of every country club skill. And so, mom did not so much request as plead with me to go through “rush week” when older boys (to my worried parents’ complete satisfaction) scrutinized younger boys… delivering themselves of every social outrage, all in the name of social acceptance, social advancement, and the glory of the frat.

And so to please mama, I signed up as an available pledge… and went out each and every evening to my fate… which went like this…

Gilded anachronism.

To justify their anachronistic existence, and divert attention from what they liked to do and were in existence to deliver, all the fraternities sponsored a yearly academic prize… and all worked as hard as they ever worked on anything to win it… for winning covered a multitude of outrages. And so they sought out wonks, not because they liked wonks but because these wonks and their stellar grades, once pledged, gave them the latitude to party hardy.

“Boy,” they said at each House in the stream of parties attended, “we don’t want you… but we do want your perfect grade point average… that cool 4 point o.” And so, holding their noses, the jeunesse doree’ of Fraternity Row offered me membership… at the cost of my self-esteem. Finding the necessary resolution, I told them thanks but no thanks, breaking my uncomprehending mother’s heart, who saw not courage but a lifetime of effortless contacts from past, present, future brothers thrown thoughtlessly away…

… As a result, I was never hazed and so cannot from personal experience relate its intricacies, primal thrills and long-established protocols. Luckily I have at my disposal the unvarnished truths on the matter delivered by the man who kissed and told, that rogue brother, the traitor of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Andrew Lohse, the man who did the worst thing he could do… letting his erstwhile brothers down… to his everlasting shame and damnation.

For the incidental music to this piece about boys being boys and the ways long honed by their Greek letter predecessors of getting around bamboozled parents and clueless authority figures of every kind, I have selected one of the popular songs from the “Animal House” series (first released in 1978). It’s “Louie, Louie”, the ultimate attitude song. It was written by Richard Berry and released in 1957. Find it in any search engine. Play it at once. And, remember, it didn’t get its reputation for outrage, insolence and ability to irritate every adult everywhere for nothing…

Dartmouth College, an abbreviated history.

When you first see Dartmouth, founded in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1769, you catch your breath. It’s a picture-postcard-perfect scene, a location tailor-made for well-heeled parents remembering their own undergrad capers. But behind the Currier-and-Ives scenaries is one generation of Dartmouth men doing absolutely disgusting things with and to the bodies of other young Dartmouth men… in rites as old as Neanderthal and as new as Facebook.

The current imp to unveil the excesses occurring behind the Corinthian columns on Fraternity Row — for they have been unveiled before — is young Lohse, aspiring journalist, who had no farther to look for inspiration than to his brothers. What they were willing to do to sleep in such exalted quarters amongst the gilded youths makes piquant reading indeed…

… how pledges slurped beer (no doubt the cream of pale ales) off the backsides, between the legs of their soon-to-be brethren;

how these same chosen few walked through kiddie pools sloshing urine and excrement;

how they feasted, as well they might, on succulent pies of gourmet-quality vomit.

There is more, of course; there is always more, of these gifted Ivy Leaguers snorting with each other, spitting on each other, tossing the furniture about, least wisely at a female Dartmouth security officer. There is still more… but you get the picture, the picture Lohse first published in the campus newspaper, The Dartmouth (America’s oldest college newspaper, since 1799) on January 25, 2012; a picture he has now sold for publication in “Rolling Stone” for the edification of the world.

The faculty reacted with the usual unedifying mixture of umbrage, outrage, humiliation, and — above all — embarrassment. How could they brag of their high positions at this Ivy League institution when this institution was most often portrayed — and in such detail, too — as a country club for the socially maladjusted and their jejune pastimes and adolescent joys? Outrageous!

Enter Dartmouth president Jim Kim.

Having little else to do in their pristine North woods, the abashed faculty made their way to President Jim Kim’s available door… pouring forth their hot words, often in iambic pentameter. Amongst the words most heard: outmoded, dangerous, illegal, scandalous, moral thuggery, physically, emotionally, psychologically damaging… and much more of this florid, grandiloquent, purple language of high import and flatulence; for this faculty, like so many faculties, never met a sonorous and highfalutin word it didn’t like, and uses them with gay abandon whenever the opportunity arises, as it most surely has arisen here.

Weak as water, or shrewd and cagey, biding his time?

President Kim, a renowned educator, gave these aroused faculty members no satisfaction whatsoever, although he called for an investigation and made it clear the College’s detailed anti-hazing policy, as well as that of the Granite State itself, would be applied and applied with rigor. That was the presidential equivalent of “blah, blah, blah” and conduced to greater anger amongst the academicians than they had already evinced. Too little, they grumbled, too late; they demanded the complete demolition of each and every den of iniquity and bad taste called fraternities.

Here President Kim not only disappointed, but alarmed them… for he made clear that he would not, and most likely, could not eradicate the insolent fraternities and their (to others) offensive ways. Some saw this as a nod in the direction of Dartmouth’s rich alumni, aging brothers with odd tastes and strong memories. If drinking beer their own way had been good enough for them, what had a few chiding do-gooders to say of the practice? They would give to Dartmouth if and only if…

And since Dartmouth needs money, and oodles of if, the fraternities and their bullying, homo-erotic, unhousebroken ways, might have to be tolerated… for this is, after all, America… where a man (or woman) has the God-given right to outrage their neighbors and their prim views just about anyway they like.

And, with that, I give you the stirring chords of “Louie, Louie” once again, because whilst these frats and their particular menaces and peculiar devices might well remain for cycles yet to come, “me, I’ve gotta go”…

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About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.
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