Recruited From The Kiddie Pool, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 30 2012 @ 8:38pm

A reader protests over Reitman's piece:

I'm so sick of this trope where the liberal media makes this argument: "Fraternities haze and are therefore evil. Look at all these conservative elites that came from fraternities! These elites are probably evil too." At one point the author basically implies that Bush Sr. and Jr. are rapists.  There's no statistical information in this trash. There's no objectivity. The author offers absolutely no defense for Fraternities, never once explains why Lohse' brothers were so loyal to SAE.

At my fraternity, there was no hazing. We did have mandatory study hours though. Our average GPA for our pledges was annually the highest in the Greek System, and the average Greek GPA was higher than the average non-Greek GPA. We had a strict no-drugs policy in the house. We had curfew. Honestly, Andrew, for every hazing anecdote Reitman digs up, I can give you a counter anecdote. I would never attempt to defend fraternities that haze their pledges; I find it detestable. But there's never any attempt to argue for culling just the bad apples in these editorials.

Another writes:

I'm a recent Dartmouth alum, and I'd just like to add two points of context to the article: First, Dartmouth's suffering a real crisis of leadership at the moment.  As the Rolling Stone article notes, Dartmouth's president for the past three years, Jim Kim, has shown a certain degree of aloofness during his tenure. 

To many students, it seemed like Dr. Kim was just biding his time in Hanover, looking to punch his ticket as president of an Ivy League university before moving on to greater things.  And they may not have been wrong.  Just a week before the Rolling Stone story hit the streets, President Kim was nominated to head the World Bank.  And over the next few days, Dr. Kim will be on a worldwide "listening tour" to stump for his new job, even as this story attracts national attention back at Dartmouth.

Second, I doubt this article will do much to change Dartmouth's frat culture.  As I see it, there are two ways the administration could put an end to hazing.  It could either (a) get rid of the frats (perhaps by forcing them to go co-ed), or (b) more aggressively police the rush process.  But both of these solutions would be wildly unpopular, not just with the student body, but also with the wealthy alumni who really call the shots at the College.


I am a Dartmouth '08 alumnus, and my friends and I have been discussing this article on email all week; Ms. Reitman pissed me off, but her article cannot and should not be swept under the rug. At one point, Ms. Reitman says, "Dissent, a signature part of the undergraduate experience at many liberal-arts colleges, is, at Dartmouth, common only to the faculty." I hope I don't have to go into why I personally object to that statement, and I challenge her to back that statement up with hard data. Honestly, I read the whole article as a shock-jock opinion piece – albeit one that touches on truths.

Ms. Reitman spends an embarrassingly short amount of time on what should be the main issue – sexual assault and violence. By focusing on vomlets and quick sixes, Ms. Reitman gives the whistleblower, Andrew Lohse, a free-ride (so to speak) for his complicity in a frat system that includes pervasive sexual assault, date-rape drug use, and other crimes. Ms. Reitman gets caught up in the hazing debate and as a consequence walks past a much more dangerous part of the forest.

Ms. Reitman also avoids apportioning excessive blame; in my opinion, the buck stops at the top. The current president of Dartmouth, Jim Kim, was quoted in the article as saying, "I barely have any power. I'm a convener." If that is an accurate quote, then that means Jim Kim is unable or afraid to to face down frat boys and their admittedly wealthy and influential alumni backers. If he can't control college bros, can we trust him to lead the WHO?

Context for the hathos-filled video embedded above:

During a videotaped show last March, Dr. Kim, the president of Dartmouth College, appeared midway through a live stage rendition of "Time of My Life" with the Dartmouth Gospel Choir, which puts on an annual “American Idol”-style competition at the college, "Dartmouth Idol."