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Ritualized vomiting was simply part of brotherly life.
March 29, 2012 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beer poured down fellow pledges' ass cracks... among other abuses.
A sobering look into the world of Dartmouth College's fraternities. Single page view.
posted by Rumple (232 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
And you didn't look at them like they were completely insane, walk out, and find a relevant authority to notify? Instead you thought you really wanted to hang out with people who do stuff like that?

...okay.
posted by Foosnark at 11:59 AM on March 29, 2012 [80 favorites]


C'mon, we all know Animal House was based on real life ..
posted by k5.user at 11:59 AM on March 29, 2012


Jesus Christ. I wasn't in a frat in college but had friends, got laid, went to parties, and had fun. How on earth can anyone find swimming in vomit and shit worth it?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:01 PM on March 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


These people are not your bros bro.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:03 PM on March 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


I went to Dartmouth, graduated in 2009, and was a member of a fraternity while I was there. In the house that I was in, there was a 100% no involuntary drinking rule that was very strictly enforced. If you had a midterm the next day, were feeling sick, or just didn't want to, absolutely no one in the house would pressure you to drink anything you did not want to.

It is sad for me that I school that I really love is getting this kind of portrayal in the media. There are many, many things wrong with Dartmouth and its Greek system that need fixing, but this is a biased, poorly-researched piece written about a troubled guy with an enormous axe to grind.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:04 PM on March 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


Also, if anyone had ever told me to jump in a kiddy pool filled with boot and feces, I would have told him to fuck right off, walked right out of that basement and never looked back.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you had to deal with all that vomit, I think you'd have an axe to grind, too.
posted by crunchland at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Guys with all the drinking they're doing, there's a lot of vomitting. They're just trying to reuse what would otherwise be a waste product. This is sustainable hazing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:07 PM on March 29, 2012 [49 favorites]


From the article: "Though two of Lohse's SAE brothers have confirmed his allegations are generally on the mark, the fraternity has turned on Lohse, portraying him as a calculating fabulist who bought into the Greek system wholeheartedly and then turned against it out of sheer vindictiveness."
posted by gauche at 12:08 PM on March 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


The reason I chose Reed over Amherst (I know, I was weird to have applied to both of such different places, but I was the first person my family's history to go to college and all I knew was that they were both top liberal arts schools and were very, very far from my shithole hometown) was that Amherst was littered with frats and Reed had none. Glad to see that choice affirmed.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:09 PM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Fraternity life is at the core of the college's human and cultural dysfunctions."

Any right-thinking college would kill fraternities and sororities.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


From the article: "A Dartmouth Man is a specific type of creature, and when I ask Lohse what constitutes true bro-ness, he provides an idealized portrait of white-male privilege: 'good-looking, preppy, charismatic, excellent at cocktail parties, masculine, intelligent, wealthy (or soon to become so), a little bit rough around the edges' – not, in other words, a 'douchey, superpolished Yalie.'"

It must be really hard work splitting hairs all day.
posted by denriguez at 12:10 PM on March 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


But Dartmouth, whose unofficial motto is "Lest the Old Traditions Fail," has resisted that transformation, just as it has stood fast against many other movements for social and political progress. Dartmouth was one of the last of the Ivies to admit women, in 1972, and only in the face of fierce resistance from alumni. In 1986, conservative students armed with sledgehammers attacked a village of symbolic shanties erected on campus to protest South African apartheid. More recently, students assailed members of an Occupy vigil at Dartmouth, heckling them with cries of "Faggots! Occupy my asshole!"

These are, no doubt, the actions of the liberal elite.
posted by gauche at 12:10 PM on March 29, 2012 [26 favorites]


Yeah, that's shitty and stupid... but you joined a frat.
posted by cmoj at 12:11 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is surely bullying to the max, but Aizkolari is right that it is not an accurate portrayal of Dartmouth or all of its frats. I had friends that dealt with the frat system there, and even in my day there were some bad ones, but also many good and ethical and caring frats. My college was cross-registered with Dartmouth on the 12 college exchange, and routinely got visits from Dartmouth students. Some were jerks -- I recall with dislike the drunken fools who mauled our library statues -- but most were fine human beings.

Something does need to be done about this particular frat, though. And by that I mean the leaders who perpetuate this behavior, not the pledges who are subjected to it.
posted by bearwife at 12:11 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


My point, crunchland, is that no one held a gun to Lohse's head and made him join a frat, and no one in the basement the night he did those things, or the nights when he was an upperclassman brother who made pledges do those things, had a gun or was otherwise physically forcing him to do them.

If he wanted to give up the social cache of being in a house, which among my many friends in the Outing Club amounted to precisely nothing, he could have quit or left at any time.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:11 PM on March 29, 2012


Swimming through a shit-vomit-and-semen-filled pool is simply a metonym for the what the average working stiff has to go through day in and day out.

These fraternities are only preparing their pledges for life after college.
posted by mistersquid at 12:12 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was at Dartmouth in the 80s and hazing was the norm at most frats.

However, the administration just dropped 24 of 27 of the charges against SAE (which, when I was there, was not notoriously Animal-House-ish).
posted by rtha at 12:12 PM on March 29, 2012


~40% of kids at Dartmouth are in sororities or frats... seems like there would be a wide range of experiences, some shittier than others.
posted by nutate at 12:13 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


More recently, students assailed members of an Occupy vigil at Dartmouth, heckling them with cries of "Faggots! Occupy my asshole!"

HEY YOU STUPID ANARCHISTS, WHY DON'T YOU COME OVER HERE AND FUCK ME IN THE ASS? COME ON. I DARE YOU. I DARE YOU RIGHT NOW. JUST GET ALL UP IN THERE, YOU QUEERS. OK HOW ABOUT WE JUST MAKE OUT AND MAYBE SEE WHERE IT GOES.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2012 [139 favorites]


I never joined a fraternity, but I once spent a weekend with my friend at his fraternity. It was also SAE, which they often referred to as the "True Gentleman's Fraternity." Observing their behavior over the course of three days I had to conclude that it was anything but that.

Never before nor since have I encountered so much misogyny, racism, classism and just straight-up douchebaggery in one group of people. Granted they were all in their 20s so maybe they've grown up but I kind of doubt it.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


In 1986, conservative students armed with sledgehammers attacked a village of symbolic shanties erected on campus to protest South African apartheid.

Oh hey, yeah, I was there. It wasn't my night to sleep in the shanties, but I saw the damage when I was on my way to work at the dining hall that morning. Then I moved into the administration building with several hundred of my closest friends. What a time, what a time.
posted by rtha at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Amatuers
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2012


The Greek system as it exists today inevitably leads to these kinds of criminal conspiracies. Fraternities—and to a lesser extent sororities—have engaged in this kind of abuse at every kind of school: large and small, public and private, well-known and obscure. Even if there were an effective regulatory remedy (school chaperones at every event?), the damage that has already been done is too great to allow the organizations to go on existing.

The only responsible thing to do is to shut down the entire Greek system, investigate every Greek organization for criminal acts, sue the local and national organizations for compensation for the victims, and impose academic sanctions on every member of a Greek organization who was ever responsible for this kind of abuse, up to and including the retroactive revocation of degrees.

And let there be no mistake: this kind of thing is criminal. It's highly debatable whether the pledges gave meaningful consent, particularly given the coercion and pressure placed on them as well as the copious administration of alcohol to underage students. Beyond that, in the most egregious cases, one cannot consent to serious bodily harm, such as might be caused by exposure to bodily wastes or drinking large quantities of vinegar or alcohol.

The fact that colleges routinely overlook these matters, sweep them under the rug, or treat them as internal rather than criminal issues makes them culpable in my mind as well. It is exactly the same kind of institutionalized corruption that is present in the Catholic church and the same kind that led to the recurring abuse of children at Penn State.

I am quite proud that my undergraduate alma mater abolished its Greek system decades ago, and I think every school in the country should do the same.
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on March 29, 2012 [72 favorites]


My point, crunchland, is that no one held a gun to Lohse's head and made him join a frat

I think he's quite explicit in the article that he was (and perhaps continues to be, on a different ladder) a deliberate social climber ("Regina") and that he regrets that, but, nonetheless he was drawn into a world of extreme debauchery. Whether widespread or not, that such a world exists at all in the basements of one of the top universities in the world is something that it's worth trying to understand.

Anyway, whether he was forced to join it or not, the article seems to substantiate many of the worst behaviours through comments from other alumni, many of whom are hostile to Lohse.
posted by Rumple at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Quote: "Having a 3.7 and being the president of a hard-guy frat is far more valuable than having a 4.0 and being independent when it comes to going to a place like Goldman Sachs. And that corporate milieu mirrors the fraternity culture."

This isn't a "bad apple" but is indeed systemic to the greek culture - and there is research to back this up. From the summary of an older bit of work here:
fraternity brotherhood reveals the highly masculinist features of fraternity structure and process, including concern with a narrow, stereotypical conception of masculinity and heterosexuality; a preoccupation with loyalty, protection of the group, and secrecy; the use of alcohol as a weapon against women's sexual reluctance; the pervasiveness of violence and physical force; and an obsession with competition, superiority, and dominance.
Its great that this no longer applies to all frats, but whatever slight good one of those model frats is certainly outweighed by the bad done by the traditional ones (like the focus of this article).
posted by zenon at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


I thought about joining a fraternity in college (I never actually completed that for reasons unrelated to what I mention here (also, I was not at Dartmouth)), but as a pledge, the biggest "hazing"-like things we had to do were chug 40s (which we had to do once), and a sort of strip-poker like game that involved us wearing an extra piece of women's clothing every time we messed up reciting something we were supposed to memorize (some fraternity song or something).

There were other things we did together with the existing fraternity brothers, like swim across the local river at night, that I could hardly call hazing, since everyone did them together.

Honestly none of it really bothered me at all, but none of it was anything like what's mentioned in the OP. I genuinely found it to be pretty much "harmless fun".
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2012


Eating this vomit is a good networking oppurtunity. It will help you get a job in the future (eating more frat bro vomit) which will pay extremely well.
posted by fuq at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


From the Article: Within the Ivy League, Dartmouth is considered the most "corporate" of the schools, with a reputation for sending graduates to Wall Street and the upper echelons of the corporate world.

mistersquid: Swimming Making people lower than you in the pecking order swim through a shit-vomit-and-semen-filled pool is simply a metonym for the what upper Corporate management makes the average working stiff has to go through day in and day out.

These fraternities are only preparing their pledges for life after college.

posted by gauche at 12:17 PM on March 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's a good thing idiocy doesn't have a critical mass like uranium, or we'd be a very extinct species by now. Probably in some supremely juvenile way, like the number of yo mama jokes crossing the threshold at which the strong force ceases to operate or such.
posted by Iosephus at 12:18 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


SAE was the most notoriously disgusting frat at Yale when I was there, too. They had this thing called Butthole week; their pledges had to wear the same [initially] white shirt all week, and throughout the week they were covered with more and more disgusting stuff by their future brothers. It got bad. The pledges ate at the same cafeterias as everyone else, and by the end of the week you really didn't want to sit anywhere near them. I think everyone not in SAE pretty much hated SAE by the end of that week, every year.

I suppose that was some sort of boost to their cameraderie.
posted by gurple at 12:19 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I pledged a fraternity, mostly because I was the first person in my family tree to attend college and I wanted to be able to explain the ins and outs of things fully to my kids, something my parents (through no fault of their own) just couldn't do.

While pledging was mentally grueling there wasn't any physical abuse or torment like this. One thing the brothers did do that I found entertaining, yet still very odd, at the time was the practice of 'lake-ing' and, to a greater degree, pole-ing a brother.

Lake-ing was, as the name implies, the practice of taking a brother, by force if necessary, to a body of water and throwing him in, with or without articles of clothing. You had to leave him a means to get home, so a quarter (or 35 cents by that time) was often tossed into the lake/fountain in question. In reality this was a means of voicing discontent or gentle reproach and people were always rescued, either by other brothers. Good stories were had by all.

Pole-ing was for larger 'occasions' such as a brother giving letters to or pinning a girl, which was basically the equivalent of engagement. Poling means the brother was taken out to a post/structure and pelted/drenched/assaulted with any and all means of gross, nasty, foul things you could think of. Brothers kept old eggs and milk jugs under their beds for this very usage, and those were the more tame fluids involved. Pretty unreal at the time and in retrospect.

I guess my desire to learn more was fulfilled. I bailed out before too long, I couldn't keep up with the drinking/monetary side of things. Just not my speed. Nice guys overall, but still... odd.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:20 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!
posted by dirtdirt at 12:20 PM on March 29, 2012 [38 favorites]


I consider myself very fortunate to have attended a very large, major university with no Greek system. For all its draconian rules that I do not support, my alma mater's prohibition of fraternities and sororities is one that I do.
posted by The World Famous at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a college student I worked hard to get fraternities removed from my campus. I'm proud that we got one chapter completely shut down and two more kicked off the physical campus. And I feel no sympathy for this student.

This kid wanted into the hierarchy and he wanted to be at the top. That's why he joined up. Instead of wondering why these exclusive and domineering bastions of exclusivity and privileges can exist, he said "sign me up," I want to be as backwards as the next. And it didn't work out perfectly.

Fraternity Gang Rape by Peggy Reeves Sanday should be required reading for college freshmen.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


My point, crunchland, is that no one held a gun to Lohse's head and made him join a frat, and no one in the basement the night he did those things, or the nights when he was an upperclassman brother who made pledges do those things, had a gun or was otherwise physically forcing him to do them.

That is not the legal standard for duress. Furthermore, you must consider the fact that the pledges may have been drunk or drugged, potentially involuntarily (e.g. even something like being tricked into drinking an unexpectedly strong drink). Finally, there are some things that one cannot legally consent to, and that includes serious bodily harm.

Lohse's voluntary organization of hazing as an upperclassman in no way makes him less of a victim of the abuses he suffered as a pledge.
posted by jedicus at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Every college has its own unique culture, every national fraternity has its own unique culture, and every discrete fraternity house within a college has its own unique culture. Of course there are frats with shitty, toxic environments and unbelievable hazing. There are also frats filled with decent people and no hazing. And sometimes in frats where there are problems, there are decent individuals and many of them contribute to changing the frat in a positive way. I was one of the people in my fraternity who took a stand and substantially ended the (relatively minor) hazing that went on there; I was also part of a handful of people who stood up for gay pledges and created a friendly environment for them. As we read articles like this, it helps to remember that "Fraternities" are not monolithic, nor are the people in them, and cultures/traditions can be changed. It doesn't help to just dismiss them and the people who pledge them wholesale.
posted by naju at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


The only reason I don't wholeheartedly agree with cries like jedicus's to abolish Greek life as a whole is that I had a good experience at a good house during my time in college, so it is clearly possible to run a frat well and for members to have a good time while they're there. zenon could also be right that the damage done by the more evil, misogynistic, hazing frats may outweigh any benefits to campus culture that a more neutral or positive house might have.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, wait... I think it was DKE, not SAE, that did the Butthole Week thing where I went to school. Blissfully, I don't remember so well. Oh, well.
posted by gurple at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2012


Pole-ing was for larger 'occasions' such as a brother giving letters to or pinning a girl, which was basically the equivalent of engagement. Poling means the brother was taken out to a post/structure and pelted/drenched/assaulted with any and all means of gross, nasty, foul things you could think of.

This is not usually how I celebrate a friend's engagement, but to each his own I suppose.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:24 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obama just named the President of Dartmouth to run the World Bank. Coincidence? I'm just surprised this showed up in Rolling Stone. I guess Forbes was afraid it would damage the reputations of the frats at the GOOD colleges. Still, Lohse has a bright future at Breitbart.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: Pretty much how I felt.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2012


But you have to think, it makes a sort of sense. The Brothers are important to each other, by bringing a female into his life that brother has to go through Pole-ing. I just can't decide if it's punishment for becoming less tied to the Fraternity or encouragement to make sure the girl is worth going through the ritual for. *shrug*
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:28 PM on March 29, 2012


I hope to get my boy to pledge into ₳∃☽.
posted by nutate at 12:29 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't get the appeal of this myself, but it's worth thinking how radically different the response to these particular rituals would be if we were reading an anthropologist's article about initiation rites in some obscure Papua New Guinean tribe. I'm pretty sure a lot of the "ha ha, that's gross, those people must be assholes" reactions would be (quite rightly) severely deprecated.
posted by yoink at 12:31 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even just reading this thread (can't bring myself to read the article) I can feel my temper rising fast. I guess that's the idea behind articles like this one, but I hope some good can come of it as well. The fact that the kind of people who do this despicable shit often go on to hold positions of respect and power in our society explains pretty much everything about why the world we live in is so utterly fucked. The problems we face in the world often can be traced back to the fact that the show is being run not just by people who are greedy and powerful (though they are), or by people who are cold and sociopathic (though they are often that as well), but by people who are evil, sadistic, abusive sacks of rotting shit, people who will gleefully and thoughtlessly torment those who are weaker than them just because they can. Those are the people who we have in charge, and that is why life is such hell for the rest of us.
posted by Scientist at 12:32 PM on March 29, 2012 [23 favorites]


Upon entering college, I liked the idea of a system which existed and purported to encourage gentlemanly attributes. However, I found no such system, and thus, never pledged a frat.
posted by Atreides at 12:33 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Every college has its own unique culture, every national fraternity has its own unique culture, and every discrete fraternity house within a college has its own unique culture.

But curiously, fraternities that engage in this kind of abuse can be found at every type of school. One can't say "well, this never happens at public school fraternities," or private school fraternities, or small school fraternities, or west coast school fraternities, or traditionally black school fraternities, or fraternities at highly respected schools, etc, etc.

The problem is not a handful of bad apples. There is something inherent in the structure of Greek organizations, particularly fraternities, that leads to this kind of abuse. Sometimes the people in a particular chapter can resist it, and occasionally they can even inculcate a culture that resists it for a time. But I argue that a) it's not worth the risk b) the historical damage done is sufficient to justify shutting down even reformed fraternities and c) vigorously eliminating all of the 'bad apples' is tantamount to eliminating the entire Greek system anyway.
posted by jedicus at 12:34 PM on March 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's worth thinking how radically different the response to these particular rituals would be if we were reading an anthropologist's article about initiation rites in some obscure Papua New Guinean tribe. I'm pretty sure a lot of the "ha ha, that's gross, those people must be assholes" reactions would be (quite rightly) severely deprecated.

Your hypothetical is comparing apples and oranges. That hypothetical tribal initiation rite exists within the tribal cuture, whereas these Greek initiation rites exist within the broader US culture, which (theoretically) does not tolerate the coercive physical and emotional abuse, racism, misogyny, etc. that are rampant in Greek culture.
posted by jedicus at 12:38 PM on March 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


it's worth thinking how radically different the response to these particular rituals would be if we were reading an anthropologist's article about initiation rites in some obscure Papua New Guinean tribe...

... or if we did not have share the same cultural and linguistic background that we do, in fact, share with American fraternity students. Put another way, if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a streetcar.
posted by gauche at 12:38 PM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


The college I went to did not have fraternities, which is part of why I went there. A friend of mine was at Darthmouth, in a frat that he described as every member being in two of the following categories: gay, cs major, in the band, jewish. Despite this, he stilled proudly described Thunderdoming to me and solo-doming (simply seeing how much one could drink until throwing up).

I've met my friend's frat brothers. They are good people. One is a doctor now. But I still can't help but wonder what it was like. And honestly, I shuddered a little reading this. Although I understand better how the members of his bachelor party consumed as much as they did (I was the DD that evening).

I also can't help but think of my father's description of his frat at URI. And how he quit in disgust when they went to protest integration.
posted by Hactar at 12:39 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fraternities are the last bastion of suppressed homoeroticism in the country.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:40 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am curiously reminded of how Brooks Brothers got its real start - scamming the Union government during the Civil War. All these elite places and aristocratic traditions - if you look even a bit under the surface, they're always foul, rotten and sociopathic, straight up Less Than Zero territory.
posted by Frowner at 12:41 PM on March 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


Your hypothetical is comparing apples and oranges.

No, it's apples with apples. I'm only talking about the initiation rituals (not the racism, misogyny etc.). Those exist within the fraternity culture, which no one is forced to join. If people voluntarily undergo initiation rites that you or I find offputting or dangerous I imagine they are doing so for reasons very similar to those of the hypothetical PNG tribesman/woman.
posted by yoink at 12:41 PM on March 29, 2012


That is not the legal standard for duress. Furthermore, you must consider the fact that the pledges may have been drunk or drugged, potentially involuntarily (e.g. even something like being tricked into drinking an unexpectedly strong drink). Finally, there are some things that one cannot legally consent to, and that includes serious bodily harm.

Lohse's voluntary organization of hazing as an upperclassman in no way makes him less of a victim of the abuses he suffered as a pledge.


Firstly, I totally agree with your second point that his participation as an upperclassman does not reduce the burden of the hazing he suffered as a pledge. I mentioned that later participation more as an illustration of his inconsistency on these issues.

Speaking of inconsistencies, one of his emails from July 2011 to a College official is quoted in this article saying: "I think the hazing question at SAE has been answered — word got backchanneled through National that what was happening had to stop, scaring everyone, and now giving me and others who didn’t like hazing a big amount of leverage from the inside with which to end the practices once and for all."

He's thanking the school's administration and saying "We can take it from here," when now he's complaining that they turned a deaf ear to all his complaints.

Also from that article: "In an Oct. 6, 2011 opinion column in The Dartmouth, Lohse cautioned readers against 'thinking that Greek life will alter you deeply.' He urged students considering entering the Greek system to 'remember that your brothers or sisters, and friends regardless of affiliation, will be there for you without fail.'"

I just think this guy is more of a James O'Keefe type who is trying to make a name for himself than someone who is concerned with solving some of the real problems that he brings up. And lest I be misunderstood I want to be 100% clear that I think hazing is abhorrent and that this house should probably be derecognized by the College for letting that kind of thing go on.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:41 PM on March 29, 2012


Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly the University of Missouri-Rolla, formerly the Missouri School of Mines) used to have a sanctioned St. Patrick's Day event that wasn't that different from this. They finally banned it in the late nineties.
posted by postel's law at 12:42 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, despite what I wrote there certainly could be a compelling case for universities to dismantle Greek systems. I think there's a weird pathology to even the best frats. My point was just that reading of the abuses at this frat in Dartmouth and extrapolating this kind of horror to all fraternities everywhere is tempting but something we should avoid. Distilling complex entities and systems down to "PURE EVIL ALL THE TIME" is rarely useful or accurate.
posted by naju at 12:42 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


... or if we did not have share the same cultural and linguistic background that we do, in fact, share with American fraternity students.

Subcultures are cultures too--or, in other words, you would find that statement repulsively ethnocentric if it were made by, say, Santorum condemning the "gay subculture."
posted by yoink at 12:43 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fraternities are the last bastion of suppressed homoeroticism in the country.

I couldn't help thinking that when I read about Pole-ing, above--I mean, what is it but a cum shot with other liquid stand-ins?

Then I expanded that thought to the seemingly-bodily-fluid obsessed Dartmouth frat in the article. Hoo boy.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:43 PM on March 29, 2012


I don't get the appeal of this myself, but it's worth thinking how radically different the response to these particular rituals would be if we were reading an anthropologist's article about initiation rites in some obscure Papua New Guinean tribe. I'm pretty sure a lot of the "ha ha, that's gross, those people must be assholes" reactions would be (quite rightly) severely deprecated.

We aren't outsiders here, nor is their a massive power/education disparity. We are insiders discussing aspects of our own culture within the context of our own value system.

I think you're right to equate this sort of thing to rites of initiation in other cultures, though. Pain, difficulty, grossness, secrecy, and ritual are powerful ways of turning individuals into a unified, tight-knit community.

From that perspective, these things are not primarily gross or funny or even dangerous. Rather, they are effective. I believe it's fair to ask to what ends those tools are being employed. It's ethical or at least valid, I think, to use those tools to forge soldiers. It is neither valid nor ethical, I don't think, to use those tools to forge date rapists and bankers.
posted by jsturgill at 12:43 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]



A frat at the UW-Madison campus also got into some trouble recently.

Gee - groups of college age kids up to no good...

I don't want to be all "boys will be boys", but at the same time why is anyone suprised ? Frats should have more adult supervision than they do.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:43 PM on March 29, 2012


This is what happens when you go to a school where your only options for recreation are skiing, drinking in NH, or drinking in VT. I hear a capella is really popular at Dartmouth, too.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:44 PM on March 29, 2012


Meh. Try Crossing the Line. It's a lot harder to get there and the abuse is pretty much in line with what I imagine a bunch of spoiled college brats can come up with. Or worse.

You don't know who your friends are until you're crawling through a gauntlet of week-old, decomposing raw chicken parts while having your buttocks savaged by a fire hose.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:45 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the "something inherent" jedicus refers to is concentrated privileged along with concentrated testosterone/estrogen and (sometimes) self-reinforcing belief structures. This could be good or bad for the college/students...

Breaking them up may fix some of the negatives. For example, I can see guys on a dorm still doing the "lake-ing" type thing with close friends on occasion but you'd have a pretty weird circle of friends that threw old milk and eggs and stored up vomit on each other. But it'll also remove a good bit of philanthropy centered in the greek system.

There's healthy frats/sorrorities and unhealthy frat/sororities, just like you have healthy and unhealthy organizations. I'm really neither here nor their with regards to their utility/harm because I think you're still going to see like good/bad apples flock together, just in another format. My gut says it'd be a crapshoot.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


We aren't outsiders here

Unless we're members of a fraternity, then yes, we are.

If the PNG comparison seems far fetched, think about Metafilter discussions of the BDSM community or of any other similar subculture. Our response there is not to say "well, those people are part of our culture, so everything that they do with seems kinda 'icky' to me it's obviously fine for me to condemn out of hand."
posted by yoink at 12:47 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


two of Lohse's SAE brothers have confirmed his allegations

I would just like to point out that I did not need these allegations confirmed. 20 years ago I was at college on a campus with a huge Greek system in which I merrily took part, thanking God every single day that I was in the sorority system instead of subjected to the fraternity system. It was exactly like this then, and if someone wants to tell me it is exactly like this now, I am not inclined to doubt them.

SAE: Where everything tastes better on a Ritz.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


eat omelets made of vomit

Vox Clamato For Dessert, indeed.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fraternities are the last bastion of suppressed homoeroticism in the country.

I couldn't help thinking that when I read about Pole-ing, above--I mean, what is it but a cum shot with other liquid stand-ins?


Sanday, referenced above, provided a anthropologic frame for this suppressed homoeroticism. She posits that these men really do love each other and that hazing creates strong bonds, but that these bonds exist within a dominant homophobic context that prevents the "brothers" from expressing their feelings. So they look for ways to share sexual experiences with each other without being classified as gay.

Her strongest example is gang rape, which are 9x as likely to be performed by fraternity members than by other college students. Sanday wonders whether this is just a way for men to share sex with each other without touching. In this sense, a drugged or passed out woman is just a conduit for the brothers to explore their feelings for each other. It's worth asking what exactly is the pleasure experienced by the fifth guy to have sex with a passed out woman.

I think you can generalize this to a lot of homosocial bonding in these contexts, from strip clubs, to sharing of porn, to talking about "conquests" over breakfast, etc.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:49 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


At my school, we used to say that SAE stood for "Save our Aryan Empire."
posted by the_bone at 12:50 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh. Try Crossing the Line. It's a lot harder to get there and the abuse is pretty much in line with what I imagine a bunch of spoiled college brats can come up with. Or worse.

Seriously! The problem isn't the hazing at frats - it's that the hazing at frats is insufficiently harsh and horrible, and the worse your hazing was, the more of a Real Man you are.

Gosh, where do kids today learn this stuff?
posted by rtha at 12:52 PM on March 29, 2012


I grew up with a lot of guys who didn't go to college, and even prior to reaching college age we spent a lot of time throwing loud, stupid parties. Consequently, I spent a lot of time watching everyone else daring each other to do stupid and dangerous things, drinking until they threw up and then drinking more until they passed out, and otherwise doing the things you expect a frat to do (that is, something that sits between doing the things described in this article and doing nothing at all untoward.)

In my own mind, I felt quite confident in not participating in those specific rituals but still having a good time, and as I grew up I moved on, where many of them did not. I haven't looked back on it much, but I suppose it's a combination of insecurity and repression: when you get old enough to be responsible for yourself, if you've been feeling repressed you're likely going to go way overboard to compensate, and if you're insecure you're likely going to surround yourself with other people who are committed to doing the same kind of look-at-me-I'm-no-longer-repressed nonsense that you want to do, to avoid judgement (and to band together to inflict your judgement on others who won't participate.) Ultimately that's not limited to the college experience, but the endorsement of the Greek system certainly does lend credibility to insecure, repressed people, and somewhat institutionalizes it.

The key takeaway for me, then, is to continue trying to give my kids opportunities to become responsible, secure young adults who have the experience to understand what they're really getting into when these kinds of things come up, and the confidence to walk away when they do. That isn't really a college-only problem, though; only the institutionalism of it is.
posted by davejay at 12:53 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm really neither here nor their with regards to their utility/harm

The sole purpose of 99% of sororities/fraternities is to exclude the people they don't want.

What is the utility in that?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:54 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


If the PNG comparison seems far fetched, think about Metafilter discussions of the BDSM community or of any other similar subculture.

Matter of fact, about half of that recent BDSM discussion in Metatalk seemed to be people saying "ick!" Personally, though I'm happy enough to regard Frat culture as some kind of violent kink that I don't get, or as something akin to the furry subculture. You may be on to something here, Yoink. Now that you mention it, I can see the similarities.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:56 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really neither here nor their with regards to their utility/harm because I think you're still going to see like good/bad apples flock together, just in another format. My gut says it'd be a crapshoot.

I've thought about that, and I still think dismantling the Greek system is worth it for a few different reasons. First, regardless of what harm may come of future replacement organizations, it's still important to expose wrongdoing and compensate the victims of past harm.

Second, replacement organizations would lack the history, established networks, national organization, and preexisting social and collegiate approval of the Greek system. These new organizations would have to be approved by society and the schools before they could attract significant membership, and their lack of an established network or prestige would limit the extent to which new members feel that it's worth it to be abused in exchange for membership.

Third, wiping the slate clean would give schools and society an opportunity to require the replacement organizations to be structured differently. Hopefully this would mitigate or avoid the problems inherent in the Greek system.
posted by jedicus at 12:58 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fraternities are the last bastion of suppressed homoeroticism in the country.

Not by a country mile.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:58 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had a friend in college who was from Greece. He was very disappointed when he found out what it meant to have "strong Greek scene" on campus.
posted by the jam at 12:59 PM on March 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


Consequently, I spent a lot of time watching everyone else daring each other to do stupid and dangerous things, drinking until they threw up and then drinking more until they passed out, and otherwise doing the things you expect a frat to do (that is, something that sits between doing the things described in this article and doing nothing at all untoward.)

davejay, me too, and most teenagers sure.

The difference here is these are accredited, respectable organizations that are considered critical for placing oneself in the upper echelons of certain societies or industries (i.e. banking, law).

In your (and my) case it was "hey, let's snort this stuff and see what it does."

In the latter case, it's "hey, snort this stuff or you are OUT and will be a loser all your life."

Simple peer pressure does not compare. jedicus has said essentially the same thing, but much more eloquently.

... I wonder if people's opinions on hazing would be any different if pledges were forced to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes an hour ... why does alcohol receive such social respect?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:59 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


You don't know who your friends are until you're crawling through a gauntlet of week-old, decomposing raw chicken parts while having your buttocks savaged by a fire hose.

Well, there's Divine, Mink Stole, Patty Hearst at some point...
posted by griphus at 12:59 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the PNG comparison seems far fetched, think about Metafilter discussions of the BDSM community or of any other similar subculture.

The vast majority of BDSM is properly consented to, unlike the kinds of abuses described in the article. When BDSM crosses the line into abuse or assault, MetaFilter isn't so accepting, and rightly so.
posted by jedicus at 1:00 PM on March 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


I will start taking comparisons of BDSM and fraternity hazing seriously when fraternities start giving their pledges safewords.
posted by Scientist at 1:02 PM on March 29, 2012 [21 favorites]


Fraternities are the last bastion of suppressed homoeroticism in the country.

Not by a country mile.


Yep, the Republican Party easily beats off fraternities when it comes to suppressed homoeroticism.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:02 PM on March 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


The key takeaway for me, then, is to continue trying to give my kids opportunities to become responsible, secure young adults who have the experience to understand what they're really getting into when these kinds of things come up, and the confidence to walk away when they do.

That pretty much sums up how I took the whole experience as also. I wanted to see what the deal was; it was not my cup of tea; I exited stage-left.

I mean, what is it but a cum shot with other liquid stand-ins?

I thought of it as squirt guns for adults (or near-adults would be a better descriptor).

The sole purpose of 99% of sororities/fraternities is to exclude the people they don't want.

That was not my experience, nor that of the other freshmen I knew who pledged (and some became Brothers) of other frats/sororities. The Brothers I experienced didn't take the view of excluding people they didn't want. They did want see if you were interesting, interested, and diligent enough to persue membership. Beyond that it was basically the same as an extended job interview or coursework (with very, very odd courses/history lessons).

it's still important to expose wrongdoing and compensate the victims of past harm.

Of course.

Second, replacement organizations would lack the history, established networks, national organization, and preexisting social and collegiate approval of the Greek system.

I fear much of this is wishful thinking. I mean by that measure the freeing of the slaves/civil rights laws magically made African-American equal citizens. On paper, sure. In practice, not so much.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:02 PM on March 29, 2012


zombieflanders, that is a wonderful Freudian clandestine men's bathroom hookup.
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Slip! I mean Freudian slip.
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is what happens when you go to a school where your only options for recreation are skiing, drinking in NH, or drinking in VT.

Not true. There's also timbersports.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:04 PM on March 29, 2012


Fraternity Blues By townes van zandt

I decided to improve my social station
I joined a fraternity organisation
Tucked in my shirt
Signed on the line
Right away they said about to improve my mind
The car I drove
The books I read
The food I ate
The booze I drank
The girls I took out
My breath

Said kid, we don’t much like the way you walk
And you gonna have to change the way you talk
They said your dress is kind of sludge
And your attitude is mighty grudge
Said you got to learn to bubble
You got to bubble with enthusiasm I started bubble
Most important thing you can’t forget
Is learning the entire greek alphabet
I never did really understand
That that’s gonna make me anymore a man
But I learned it
I can whip through that son-of-a-beta backwards in five seconds
Then they hit me with some pretty bad news
Concerning the payment of monthly dues
I never did know where that money went
I never was sure it was well spent
But I paid it
I’m no troublecauser and besides I figured that’s life
If you want good friends it gonna cost you

Well, finally got to be party time
I got a great big old jug of wine
I went back to the house in about an hour
[when the boy’s were] drinking whiskey sours
Brandy alexanders
Frozen daquiris
Reciting the greek alphabet to one another

I could see I was gonna have to do my very best
To get myself out of that fraternity mess
I stood right there outside the door
And I chugged that wine like never before
Walked inside and bubbled
All over a couple of their dates

So now everything’s back to normal again
But there is still lots of room for improvement my friend
’cause that fraternity stuff is too much for me
Next time I’m gonna join a sorority
Really get me something to bubble about
posted by notsnot at 1:05 PM on March 29, 2012


Btw, I'm open to questions regarding what I personally experienced and consider myself pretty impartial so I'm not taking sides here or pushing one agenda vs. another. If I come across that way it's inadvertent/intentioned I assure you. I do think the entire system could benefit from some sunshine, but you're never going to get full disclosure of things like this, much like closed door board room meetings at a company or something.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:06 PM on March 29, 2012


You don't know who your friends are until you're crawling you've paid to be made to crawl through a gauntlet of week-old, decomposing raw chicken parts while having your buttocks savaged by a fire hose.

Wow, it really is like visiting a pro-Dom(me), isn't it?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:06 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best and the brightest.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:11 PM on March 29, 2012


Also, to respond a bit to the comments calling frats some easy ticket into high finance and the other halls of power, that was not my experience at all. I have a lot of friends who were hired by big banks and consultancies and the only significant correlations to their landing those jobs were their GPA's and, much less importantly, whether they had cool extracurriculars (sports team captain, newspaper editor, etc).

I mean, I got out in June of 09, in the teeth of the recession, and if there had been any sweet frat job hookup train I surely would have been on it.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2012


And these are the folks who grow up and espouse the doctrine of 'personal responsibility', and individualism?
posted by edgeways at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2012


Wow, this may be the first time that I have actually felt genuinely offended by things people have said about my sexual orientation. I have been annoyed before, and often felt like there was a need for more education and awareness, but I've never felt before like people were taking something that is part of my identity and using it to make cheap jokes by comparing it to something vile. It is a novel experience, and it fills me with a mixture of frustration, anger, and despair.
posted by Scientist at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I fear much of this is wishful thinking. I mean by that measure the freeing of the slaves/civil rights laws magically made African-American equal citizens. On paper, sure. In practice, not so much.

In the case of my undergraduate alma mater it seems to have worked pretty well. There is a men's dorm on campus that tries to recreate a kind of fraternity atmosphere, but it doesn't work very well despite a few decades of trying. They lack the connection to a national organization, so the networking appeal is limited. They can't effectively pick and choose members or hold private events on campus, so the opportunities for discrimination and hazing are practically nonexistent.

What they do have is a higher concentration of dudebros than the rest of campus and a penchant for throwing parties (all of which have outside security present, per school policy). If that kind of "Frat-Lite" is the worst that comes of dismantling the Greek system, I'm okay with that.
posted by jedicus at 1:14 PM on March 29, 2012


Dude!

Bro!
posted by Theta States at 1:17 PM on March 29, 2012


I am a person who is regularly tasked with hiring people into an entry level position for a career that will occupy most of the rest of their lives.

My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder.
posted by Tennyson D'San at 1:18 PM on March 29, 2012 [20 favorites]


I always assumed that going to Dartmouth was already so humiliating that these kinds of hijinx wouldn't be necessary.

I suspect that the true purpose of this exclusion piled on exclusion wrapped in abusive crap is the secret knowledge that every one of these saps have that their pretensions to superiority are just that. You don't go to all of this effort breaking down your own psyche to acquire fake fellow corporate dues-paying "brothers" if you have genuine confidence to begin with.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:21 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a person who is regularly tasked with hiring people into an entry level position for a career that will occupy most of the rest of their lives.

My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder.


That just seems like a bit of a dick move to me.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:22 PM on March 29, 2012 [25 favorites]


Wow, this may be the first time that I have actually felt genuinely offended by things people have said about my sexual orientation. I have been annoyed before, and often felt like there was a need for more education and awareness, but I've never felt before like people were taking something that is part of my identity and using it to make cheap jokes by comparing it to something vile. It is a novel experience, and it fills me with a mixture of frustration, anger, and despair.

Wow. God, you're right, and I am appalled at myself and truly sorry. I have no excuse for taking what is essentially a pornified view and applying that to "homoeroticism." Just wrong.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:22 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


At my school, we used to say that SAE stood for "Save our Aryan Empire."

From what I remember (from visiting my brother), at Dartmouth SAE stood for "Sleep And Eat". Now I know it was all the hazing that had them so tuckered out.
posted by Zippity Goombah at 1:22 PM on March 29, 2012


Also, to respond a bit to the comments calling frats some easy ticket into high finance and the other halls of power, that was not my experience at all.

That's as may be, but statistical evidence [pdf] says Greek membership helps significantly:
We examine how Dartmouth College seniors use social networks to obtain their first jobs. ... One of the most robust results is that students obtaining high paying jobs are likely to have solicited help and advice from current and alumni members of their fraternity or sorority. ... [A]mong students who did not rely on help from fraternity and sorority members and alumni, 22 percent accepted or plan on accepting a prestige job. In contrast, 63 percent of students who did use fraternity or sorority help plan on entering a prestige job.
Even if fraternities offered no networking benefits, it would be sufficient that they appear to offer such benefits. If pledges are drawn in based at least partly on the promise of career benefits, then that's enough. Indeed, if those benefits are illusory then that makes the Greek system all the worse.
posted by jedicus at 1:23 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


At my school, everyone said that SAE stood for "Sexual Assaults Expected."

This was supposed to be funny.
posted by duvatney at 1:24 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are good people.

I keep seeing this, i don't think it means what you think it means. Bullies aren't good people, good people stand up to bullies and will turn in those who do wrong. Frats are the same as gangs in lots of respects, jumping in same as hazing, no snitching the same in frats, etc. If someone was part of a frat or gang and stood by and watched, doing nothing, they aren't good people, end of story.

getting this kind of portrayal in the media.

I see this too for people saying the media shouldn't report the guy who shot women and children in afganistan because it make the other ones look bad too. Not, don't do shit that makes the good people look bad, but don't talk about it. Again, not good people.
posted by usagizero at 1:28 PM on March 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


Apology wholeheartedly accepted, dlugoczaj. No hard feelings on my part.
posted by Scientist at 1:28 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, it really is like visiting a pro-Dom(me), isn't it?

The big difference being that you have to wait until later to cum.

Also, to respond a bit to the comments calling frats some easy ticket into high finance and the other halls of power, that was not my experience at all.

Were you in an Ivy League school? Not a dig, but it is different. And, of course, frats aren't easy tickets into anything--however, they are essentially required for some cases. Or again, what jedicus says better than I.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:29 PM on March 29, 2012


When I was in a frat we helped create an anti-hazing law. The signed legislation wasn't as tough as what we originally wanted but it looks like AZ has since passed a stricter anti-hazing law.
posted by mullacc at 1:30 PM on March 29, 2012


Although actually I'm not sure why you apologized to me. It was octobersurprise who made the comments that I found offensive.
posted by Scientist at 1:31 PM on March 29, 2012


OK, you know what? I shouldn't have been reading this thread anyway. The whole thing is outragefilter to begin with, so I'll just let y'all get on with it and pretend that this isn't here. That I am being outraged by people making cracks about BDSM as well as this whole fraternity hazing vileness is irrelevant, I should not be here regardless.
posted by Scientist at 1:33 PM on March 29, 2012


there was a 100% no involuntary drinking rule

Wait. You needed a rule for that?
posted by erniepan at 1:37 PM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


A very similar story from Princeton broke a couple of years ago. Choice excerpt below:
Then one of the senior brothers, known within the fraternity as “the pledge educator,” turned to Burford and offered him a chance at redemption, handing the freshman a 20-ounce Dr. Pepper bottle filled with tobacco spit. “Burford, if you chug this thing in one go, everybody can go home,” Burford recalled the senior brother saying. “We’ll put all this behind us. You’ll have redeemed yourself.”

“Chewing tobacco pretty much instantly makes you throw up … so none of them thought I could do it,” Burford said. Still, he took the bottle and managed to drink all of its contents in one chug. “Then [the senior brother] was just, like, ‘Psych!’ and he made them continue [chugging milk and running wind sprints],” Burford explained. “And I was just, like, ‘This is so fucked up.’ ”
posted by en forme de poire at 1:38 PM on March 29, 2012


(Oh hey, that was SAE as well.)
posted by en forme de poire at 1:38 PM on March 29, 2012


Although actually I'm not sure why you apologized to me.

Because I assumed you were gay (wrongly, I now think) and that my comment about the cum shot was homophobic, which I can certainly interpret as being so upon a second look. I'm still appalled even though I'm glad I didn't offend you personally, Scientist.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:41 PM on March 29, 2012


It was octobersurprise who made the comments that I found offensive.

There are certain lines that should never be crossed. I'm sorry I compared you to a fratboy, Scientist.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:41 PM on March 29, 2012


Were you in an Ivy League school? Not a dig, but it is different.

He "went to Dartmouth, graduated in 2009, and was a member of a fraternity." That's one reason I looked for evidence from an Ivy League school, and as luck would have it the study I found was done at Dartmouth in 2001.
posted by jedicus at 1:41 PM on March 29, 2012


On that note, another frat held a public milk drinking contest that anyone could participate in. It was the height of awesome. They had a garbage bag coated stage, food coloring in the milk, and awards for best 'presentation' among those that couldn't keep things down.

*Gross warning, stop now if you're a vomit fearing person and somehow still here*

Few things in life have compared to the mental snapshot I have of a man standing in full angelic/cherubic fountain pose projectile vomiting pink milk across a stage into a garbage can while the crowd (well away) "Ooohh'd!" and "Ewww'd!"

The house record for the milk gallon challenge/competition was 43 mins. Vomit meant you were disqualified.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:43 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more comments Aizkolari leaves the more I am convinced that Darmouth is a cult. A vomit loving cult.
posted by OsoMeaty at 1:45 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


> But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted
> individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the
> whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational
> institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire
> American society?

I jump directly to blaming the order Mammalia. Things were so much nicer before those nasty hairy things showed up.
posted by jfuller at 1:45 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, to respond a bit to the comments calling frats some easy ticket into high finance and the other halls of power, that was not my experience at all.

Were you in an Ivy League school?


I was at Dartmouth and was talking about my experience as a frat member graduating in 09. Many of my classmates, both Greek and independent, spent months without any kind of a job, much less some sweet gig at Goldman Sachs or Bain.

there was a 100% no involuntary drinking rule

Wait. You needed a rule for that?


It was a rule that made it clear to potential pledges that they would never, ever be forced to drink if they did not want to. It was a bit of a recruiting thing that set my house somewhat apart from some of the other frats on campus, where they would emphasize the difficulty of their pledge terms in an effort to seem cooler or better.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


* fwiw: I did not go to Dartmouth.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:47 PM on March 29, 2012


I jump directly to blaming the order Mammalia. Things were so much nicer before those nasty hairy things showed up.

"Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."
posted by jedicus at 1:47 PM on March 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


If ever a lede should have been buried, that was the one.

Sorry, I had to come back from yarking.
posted by mephron at 1:48 PM on March 29, 2012


Fraternities are the last bastion of suppressed homoeroticism in the country.

Bzzz. What is pro wrestling?
posted by MuffinMan at 1:48 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fixed (in 1962):

www.kanecap.com/doc/williams/report_of_the_committee_on.pdf
posted by The Ted at 1:48 PM on March 29, 2012


My closest high school friend went to Dartmouth and was a member of a fraternity there. I visited him on several occasions.

1. Was hanging out at a frat party with him and his black roommate. With no warning, the black roommate threw his beer in my face and announced in an almost shout, "He just called me a nigger!" There was a rather pregnant pause before he burst into laughter and the partying continued on.

2. After returning from a night of drinking at a frat party, we returned to my friend's room. He wanted to call his girlfriend and I wanted to go back out and drink some more. So I did. By myself. I was so drunk I could not find my way back to his dorm. I went into a random building and laid down to sleep. As it was a weeknight, I was awakened at 7:40am or so by a female custodian who said, "Are you through in here? Class starts in twenty minutes and it smells like a brewery in here." I discovered I was asleep under a desk in the math building.

3. The following year he and his friends wanted to make sure that I passed out in a safe place. When I went to sleep at the end of the very drunken night, I was in my friend's dorm room sleeping on the floor. At some point I woke up to go to the bathroom. I wandered into the hall and got lost within the building. I went into a room and passed out. When I woke up I found myself on the couch in the dorm room of a couple guys I did not know. They woke me up because they had to go to the football game and didn't want to leave me there.
"Sorry, guys. I must have passed out here."
"Not a problem."
"I am here visiting a friend. You probably know him as Duker."
"Holy shit! You're the guy who slept in the math building! Awesome! We are honored to have you!"

Wow. I am only up to the fall of his sophomore year. I lived a rather pathetic life back then.
posted by flarbuse at 1:51 PM on March 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


Ritualized vomiting was simply part of brotherly life.

Is't it in all fraternities? One thing I learned there was to vomit and then keep drinking. And what was even worth: We had a sink, especially made for vomiting in the bathroom!
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:57 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually couldn't finish the article, it bothered me so much. But it explains so much about what's wrong with this country.
posted by tommasz at 1:58 PM on March 29, 2012


Pole-ing was for larger 'occasions' such as a brother giving letters to or pinning a girl, which was basically the equivalent of engagement. Poling means the brother was taken out to a post/structure and pelted/drenched/assaulted with any and all means of gross, nasty, foul things you could think of. Brothers kept old eggs and milk jugs under their beds for this very usage, and those were the more tame fluids involved. Pretty unreal at the time and in retrospect.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:20 PM on March 29


My (now) husband was in a frat that did this (although not any of the other gross stuff mentioned in the article) whenever a guy got engaged or gave a girl his lariat (some sort of pre-engagement signifier I never fully understood). Apparently, if you have the commitment to actually marry the girl, it's okay and you're off the hook.

The wrinkle I remember being angriest about was that if they did this to him, I was expected to kiss him despite whatever noxious stuff they'd put on him, and he wouldn't be released from the pole until I did so. My failure to do so would be regarded as some sort of lack of love for him. I expressed the opinion that if they ever called me about anything like that, I would immediately call the police and have them all arrested.

He didn't dare introduce me to any of his frat brothers until after we were married.
posted by joannemerriam at 1:59 PM on March 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


If I had a time machine for my life, one of the first things I would do is go back to college and not join a fraternity.
posted by 4ster at 2:00 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


These stories are disgusting and should be dealt with severely, but the two or three frat parties I've attended didn't seem that far outside the collegiate norm (there was drinking and dope smoking and making out and whatnot but no more than at nonfrat parties I went to. I fully stipulate that my experience is not everyone's.
posted by jonmc at 2:01 PM on March 29, 2012


So internalized did these rituals become that even long-graduated brothers reflect on Dome, and other games, with fondness. "Seeing two friends pulling each other's trigger was one of the most glorious things I've ever seen in my life," says Snowden Wright, an SAE brother who graduated in 2004. "It was like two kittens licking each other clean. Pure friendship." I assume Wright is kidding; he assures me he isn't.

OH DEAR GOD

I will never be able to enjoy watching two two licking each other clear ever again.
posted by OsoMeaty at 2:02 PM on March 29, 2012


The frats do have a safeword. It is "I quit this fraternity" (and by extension, lose or make enemies of many of my friends). But the comparison to BDSM is deeply unfair: what we have here is heirarchial sadism, where the victim is not getting off on being degraded, but resentfully going along with it and building up frustrated rage which will in turn be dissipated by inflicting degradation on others. They are all abusers in their ecosystem, and the lower status abusers are degraded. It's more akin to a generational cycle of domestic violence or sexual molestation.

It's completely toxic and should be shut down. Post-graduation "jobs for the boys" is institutionalized nepotistic corruption. The best thing a fraternity can offer is an instant group of friends for a lonely soul and you can get that in a sporting or activity club.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:05 PM on March 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


We had a sink, especially made for vomiting in the bathroom!

That "sink" looks more like something you'd see in a facility for colonics.
posted by Forktine at 2:05 PM on March 29, 2012


Jesus, this guy threw up enough just during pledging to burn the enamel off of his teeth.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:10 PM on March 29, 2012


So, that Smith alumna who recently wrote the letter complaining that Smith no longer turns out young women in cashmere coats and pearls who go on to marry Amherst men?



Good thing she didn't say Dartmouth!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:12 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


'93-95: I was a charter-signing founding member of the Sigma chapter of Phi Lambda Chi, the first national fraternity ever allowed at the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma.

In my experience being in a fraternity in a small Oklahoma arts-and-sciences school, *nothing* like the stuff he describes ever happened. Sure, there was (moderate) drinking, but no hazing other than good-natured joking and kidding around to make the initiation ceremony seem worse than it actually was.

Have a picture somewhere of me in my letter shirt and hat, trying to be cool and leaning against my car. Some that have seen it refuse to believe that it's me; "You don't seem like the frat type, at all." "I'm not."

When my wife passed away suddenly in the middle of 2009, one of the people I heard from out of the blue (via Facebook) was a Phi Lam brother who I had not otherwise communicated with since 1995. He went above and beyond to help me out, and never asked for more than a "thank you".

How much of Lohse's story could just be BS for publicity and a book deal?
posted by mrbill at 2:15 PM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


The sole purpose of 99% of sororities/fraternities is to exclude the people they don't want.

What is the utility in that?


Even if this were true, think of Families, athletics teams, grad school programs, workplaces, communes, and shared apartments. These and more all function based on there being limited membership. There is value in this for a lot of different reasons.
posted by Winnemac at 2:22 PM on March 29, 2012


jedicus kicks so much ass in this thread.
posted by JHarris at 2:22 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much of Lohse's story could just be BS for publicity and a book deal?

Sounds like the book could be a doozy:
He’s writing a memoir: a “generational tale” that he hopes will be part Bright Lights, Big City, part The Sun Also Rises and part This Side of Paradise, and describes as “a one-way ticket to the secret violence at the heart of the baptismal rites of the new elite.”
posted by Aizkolari at 2:24 PM on March 29, 2012


This was my fraternity house back in the 90s. With the exception of pledges being called "whale shits" none of these things occurred while I was a student. None of them. Never once did I puke on anyone (myself excepted, unfortunately). I certainly never saw a "vomelet" (the stove in the kitchen didn't even work) or pools of fluids (if that's even what was in there - I messed with a drunk friend once by telling him that I had sprayed him with blood that was actually ketchup and he believed me because he was hammered and couldn't tell the difference). Hazing for us meant making a kid walk around with a 4 foot-long pencil for a week, making the pledges sing to someone's girlfriend, or surprising a couple of the pledges by throwing them in the car unexpectedly and taking them up to Montreal for a night on the town. I won't pretend there wasn't pressure to drink, but we had pledges who went through pledge period completely dry with no consequence for doing so. Furthermore, that pressure to drink was exactly the same pressure that I have personally witnessed on multiple sports teams in both college and high school, visiting friends during frosh week at Canadian universities, or really at just about any party I've ever been to on a college campus:
"Drink!"
"No"
DRINK!"
"NO"
"Wuss"
/walks away

With years behind me I agree that this is both immature and wrong (the pressure, not the walking away), but the reality is that it occurs just about any time a group of young adults gets together with booze and without supervision. Perhaps that's not your experience, and if so I'm glad you were able to avoid that, but from a wide-range of experiences it certainly seems to me to be the general case.

My guess here is that there's a mix of truth, exaggerations, and lies. This guy definitely had an ax to grind after the cocaine bust, but at the same time these things can happen on college campuses and there are others saying similar things about SAE and other houses on campus. There should be a proper review of what's going on here and elsewhere, wrongs punished and corrections put in place.

There is a metric shit tonne of stereotyping going on in this thread. If these things happened as reported then this house is nothing like it was when I was there, just as other fraternities on campus were very different from us in their make-up, behaviors, and attitudes, just as other SAE chapters were also very different from our house. A fraternity doesn't turn you evil, corporate, Republican, whatever. The brothers in the house while I was there have gone on to do things like act as a lawyer for the Obama campaign in Florida during the election, joined Teach for America, joined AmeriCORPs, spent time working in Africa and India delivering health and educational care to impoverished areas, and yes, some are now at hedge funds or in the corporate world. We're not a homogenized blob, and shame on you for suggesting otherwise. It's absolutely no less idiotic than when it's done with other groups. (To head off the inevitable comment: I'm not comparing our situation with race issues or anything of that sort. But condemning with broad strokes is wrong whenever it's done.) The same holds for the anti-Dartmouth hate-on here. It's a very politically diverse school - you just hear about the right side of things. I'm pretty sure that Robert Reich isn't a hard-core right-winger. Or Kirsten Gillibrand. Or for that matter Aisha Tyler or Mindy Kaling - both Dartmouth women and neither of whom are racist, sexist monsters either. Of course some of the people at Dartmouth do fit that mold, unfortunately, but last time I checked we haven't started thinking of UC Berkeley as a right-wing stronghold just because John Yoo is a professor there. It's a large group of people, made up of all different kinds. Try to remember that before you shred your next resume that says "Dartmouth" or "fraternity/sorority".
posted by mzanatta at 2:30 PM on March 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


jedicus: That is not the legal standard for duress. Furthermore, you must consider the fact that the pledges may have been drunk or drugged, potentially involuntarily (e.g. even something like being tricked into drinking an unexpectedly strong drink). Finally, there are some things that one cannot legally consent to, and that includes serious bodily harm.

Along with all of this is a need to belong. Drop a young student who looks to others for confidence, sense of worth, or values themselves based on their peer group, and frats and sororities are the easiest way to fit in. Pass the initial judgement and hazing, and you belong. The uncertainty of a huge university, where a single undergrad classroom could have a few hundred students, and belonging to an exclusive group provides stability and individuality that some would otherwise lack.

I'm not singing the praises of the Greek system, I'm saying the fact they exist is far from surprising.

And to those who say the extreme examples cited here are fabricated, that is beyond the point. Hazing doesn't need to be extreme to be criminal. How many new students die from alcohol poisoning from frat hazing and rush week binges? In my years of college, I recall a few, and my school wasn't all that large, nor was it an "elite school" where the pressure to succeed was as high as elsewhere. Friends don't push friends to drink to the point of death. Hell, decent human beings don't do that.

What did my school do to "ease new students" into the mix of school and social pressures? Prevent Freshmen from pledging the first quarter of school. The school recognized that enough new students didn't realize that they couldn't party every night and pass their classes. But maybe if they pass their classes first, then they'll realize how much work college is, and then you can drink yourself stupid.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:35 PM on March 29, 2012


The only frathouse I ever spent the night at was at relatively small state school and like I said before, it was tame. I guess this shit gets weirder the higher uP you go.
posted by jonmc at 2:37 PM on March 29, 2012


Wow, I had no idea the Society of Automotive Engineers was so extreme.
posted by scratch at 2:45 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the different houses and chapters most definitely vary. At that stage of life, particularly, there's a draw towards belonging and towards the traditions that reach back before you and that you are now a part of etc, etc. But if you think of it in terms of Dazed and Confused, some houses are going to be filled with guys like Pink and some with guys like the Ben Affleck character. Pink messes with Wiley Wiggins a bit, but lovingly, and quickly brings him into the fold. Ben Affleck is just a sadist on a power trip.

Plus, most campuses are generally their own little worlds apart from the ramifications of the real world anyway. I think seeing frats and sororities as subcultures within these worlds makes sense, another level of non-accountability via the "don't worry, we got this" standard. I went to NYU for undergrad, which was unique in this regard. Not having a real "campus," we didn't have the same kind of insularity I've seen at other universities. The dorms were all co-ed, and people partied like crazy without needing specific functions for it. Within the film program, we had our own solid group who regularly threw scandalous bashes, but without the hazing or exclusivity (and without, it turns out, the employment connections, sadly.)

The Greek System did exist, but it was a vanishingly small percentage of students who participated. And it was just weird. I visited a frat "house" with my best friend, because she was into one of the guys there (and had horrific taste in men at the time), and it was just a handful of leering, creepy bros in an unlit, undecorated vast space given to them by the university in one of the dorms away from the center of the pseudo-campus. The vibe the guys were giving off was that this was supposed to be their awesome sanctum, the non-vehicular equivalent of a "shaggin' wagon," and that the women who entered there were obligated to fuck them by crossing their threshold, but at the same time none of them really tried anything explicit, like they were just sitting there hornily steaming and waiting for the magic of "frat house" to take effect. In general, the few times the subject of Greek life ever came up at NYU, it was joked off as "paying for friends."

But at other schools I've spent some time at, it makes more sense. I spent a lot of time at SMU growing up, visiting my brother and sister there. My brother was a Pike for about a semester, before he and most of his pledge-class de-pledged and joined the more fluid and fun (at the time) scene in Deep Ellum. My sister went Tri-Delt, and it was a good social nexus for her throughout school. If nothing else, being connected to the Sorority system halped them understand the tricks that the Fraternity system was up to w/r/t getting them drunk and fucking them, making it kind of an essential safety mechanism for the women attending SMU.

But this brings me to one of my biggest problems with the Greek System. The "awesomest" frats are the ones getting laid all the time by any means necessary. The more sexually active sororities are the "bad" ones. Whether intentional or not, they effectively cement really fucked up sexual dichotomies, and looking back on what I saw in my time spent around them growing up was kind of disturbing. There's a lot that can be said about NYU both bad and good, but I appreciate that there was no institutionalized pressure on the men to prove their manliness through getting laid, and no stigma against women in the other direction. That was pretty cool.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember, man that thou art vomit and unto vomit thou shall return.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama just named the President of Dartmouth to run the World Bank. Coincidence? I'm just surprised this showed up in Rolling Stone. I guess Forbes was afraid it would damage the reputations of the frats at the GOOD colleges. Still, Lohse has a bright future at Breitbart.

Not so fast, kemosabe. Reitman --- that's Janet Reitman, the author of this article, not Lohse, also Rolling Stone's Iraq correspondent --- has some damming evidence that Jim Yong Kim was well aware of Dartmouth's toxic frat culture and chose to do nothing.
Incidents like this are not lost on Dartmouth administrators. Last spring, college president Jim Yong Kim, an anthropologist, medical doctor and the co-founder of the international NGO Partners in Health, established an intercollegiate collaborative known as the National College Health Improvement Project to study high-risk drinking..."I just don't see that working at all," says Joe Asch, a former Bain consultant and Dartmouth alum who is the lead writer for Dartblog, a site that covers Dartmouth politics. "It all makes for great PR, but this is about a group of college administrators who've all tried different approaches to a serious problem on their campuses, none of which have made a dent." Even more crucially, such initiatives are not directed at fraternity culture itself, which many see as the heart of the problem.

Besides, say many at Dartmouth, the chances that the school will actually change its approach to fraternities seems slim. Kim, whose three-story mansion sits on Fraternity Row, is a strong supporter of the Greek system; he has suggested on several occasions that fraternity membership may have health benefits, citing studies that show that people with long-standing friendships suffer fewer heart attacks. In a strange abdication of authority, Kim even professes to have little influence over the fraternities. "I barely have any power," he told The Dartmouth in a recent interview. "I'm a convener."

In reality, Kim is one of the only officials in a position to regulate the fraternities. More than half of Dartmouth's frats are "local" – houses that split off from their national organizations years ago, and are thus unaccountable to any standards other than those set by the college and their boards...

Kim – who was recently nominated by the Obama administration to head the World Bank – was initially seen as a potential challenge to the status quo. But instead, he's proven to be just the opposite. Not long after he took office, Kim met with Dartmouth alums and reassured them he had no intention of overhauling the fraternities. "One of the things you learn as an anthropologist," he said, "you don't come in and change the culture."
Reitman's article also has some interesting, if not definitive, evidence that Dartmouth has a higher rate of sexual assualt due to the frats.


The RS piece was enough to convince Felix Salmon, the finance blogger, to swtich his opinion on who should be head of the Bank, particulalry considering that the last three World Bank presidents have left their role in part because of scadals involving their personal lives (and in Stauss-Khan's case, accusations of rape). Salmon thinks if the revelations in this piece become widely known enough, it may be more than adequate to damn Kim in Europe...
posted by Diablevert at 2:53 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


“a one-way ticket to the secret violence at the heart of the baptismal rites of the new elite.”

Please. Nothing new about this, including this version of "the elite." It's all about tradition and punishing anyone who dares to question the old ways.

The "lest the old traditions fail" is a line from Dartmouth's alma mater, which was "Men of Dartmouth" for decades after it went coed (I sang that damn thing hundreds of times, since I was in the glee club). When they finally changed it my senior year, it became even more popular than it had been before for students to roar LEST THE OLD TRADITIONS FAIL at football games, and around the bonfire, and so on.

And yes, the line about "the granite of New Hampshire in their muscles and their brains" is completely hilarious.
posted by rtha at 2:55 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


mzanatta: Great point. I've met very few Dartmouth grads, and am close with none, but in my mind they are tied with Duke as the epitome of privileged Bro-Culture. The thing is, since the time when those opinions were formed (when I was quite young) I've gained a number of close friends from Duke, none of whom fit that mold at all. Not to say that culture doesn't exist at Duke (or, apparently, at Dartmouth) but the face we all see (or just imagine) isn't going to be representative of the whole, or even of the grand majority. I've spent enough time defending Williamsburg to understand how frustrating that can be.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:57 PM on March 29, 2012


When I was in university, SAE had a widespread reputation for getting girls really drunk and assaulting them. And getting into fisticuffs with cops when they came to investigate.

I never heard anything about their hazing, but they had a really shitty culture toward women.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2012



In this sense, a drugged or passed out woman is just a conduit for the brothers to explore their feelings for each other. It's worth asking what exactly is the pleasure experienced by the fifth guy to have sex with a passed out woman.


What the hell is the pleasure experienced by the FIRST guy? I mean a passed out woman?

Fun! Sex is about fun. Takes two (conscious) to have fun.
posted by notreally at 3:57 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


First-world problems, indeed.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:17 PM on March 29, 2012


I'm not sure "the organization I joined is abusive and I'm afraid I'll fail in my profession if I don't go along with the abuse" is exclusively a first-world problem.
posted by The World Famous at 4:26 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm only partway through the article, and mostly I can only think: why are they doing this? How is this fun?

And when the hell do they do their coursework? I spent some 60-80 hours a week reading/writing in undergrad. And then I would get wild and maybe have a little coffee and hot chocolate mixed together.

But I haven't gotten to the part about sexual assaults yet -- I think that when I do, I will feel like vomiting too.
posted by jb at 4:39 PM on March 29, 2012


I tend to view 'Bro's'* (fraternity or otherwise) the same way I view hipsters: individually, they are often great people, as a group they tend toward the obnoxious.

*In New York City, the hipster/Bro thing is complicated by the fact that the 'bro' looking guy (sports jersey. gelled hair, goatee, ballcap) is often as not an ethnic local rather than a college kid and the skinny-jeaned hipster is often from a 'flyover state' suburb. This brings other issues into the mix, at least to me.
posted by jonmc at 4:45 PM on March 29, 2012


resentfully going along with it and building up frustrated rage which will in turn be dissipated by inflicting degradation on others. They are all abusers in their ecosystem, and the lower status abusers are degraded. It's more akin to a generational cycle of domestic violence or sexual molestation.

How else are we supposed to nurture future Wall St. types?
posted by Chekhovian at 4:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to Dartmouth and it was clear to me pretty early on that I was not going to be interested in pledging a frat. It took me a while but I found a good group of friends to hang out with. (One of them was actually from Greece.) One of our favorite traditions was to paddle canoes to an island just south of town on the Connecticut and stay in a cabin there overnight, talking by the fire. It can take some work to find your niche if you don't like the frat system but it is certainly possible. I have never understood why more people didn't try.

For people saying that the frat system should be abolished, I totally agree but they have already tried to do it at Dartmouth, back in '99. The best article I could find on that is from MIT, and apart from calling it "Dartmouth University" it's pretty much accurate. And I guess they tried a couple of times after that. The problem AFAICT is that the college has too many influential frat/sorority alumni who are willing to fight to keep the system around.

The frat system is entrenched in all kinds of ways that you might not expect. For instance, the College wanted to build a center for government studies, but they needed to build it over a corner of land owned by a frat. I don't remember the details but I think the College had to pay them rent for a time, and of course the frat had some leverage to misbehave. I think the College finally got enough dirt on them to decommission the house, though. It's really a turf war.

This publicity actually makes me hopeful that maybe the College can take some action this time. Kim seemed an affable president but was not willing to rock the boat. Maybe his successor can do more. If he or she went to Dartmouth, that would help too.

I do hate that all this publicity makes it easy to forget that some pretty incredible people have been associated with Dartmouth, too. For instance, John Ledyard, who dropped out and paddled a self-built dugout canoe down to Long Island and embarked on a lifetime of adventures. The canoe club is named after him. I should do a post about him sometime.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


And when the hell do they do their coursework?

You can sleep when you're dead!

Freshman year, I went to a lot of frat parties. I also had a work-study job and all my coursework and a couple extra-curriculars. I just slept less. Same for the other three years, only replace frat parties with political group meetings, which took up much more time. Dartmouth's on the quarter system, so everything is compressed into terms of nine or 10 weeks. You just get used to the pace, I guess.
posted by rtha at 4:49 PM on March 29, 2012


I must admit I lol'ed at 'vomlet'
posted by ian1977 at 4:52 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pole-ing was for larger 'occasions' such as a brother giving letters to or pinning a girl, which was basically the equivalent of engagement. Poling means the brother was taken out to a post/structure and pelted/drenched/assaulted with any and all means of gross, nasty, foul things you could think of.

We called it anchoring, and I was anchored, with handcuffs, to the front porch of my girlfriend's sorority after I pinned her. I was covered in a weeks worth of leftovers that they had been saving for the occasion, while the girls serenaded me. Then my girlfriend had to come out as the guys would only give the handcuff keys to her.
Afterwards, the girls came over to the house for a party. Good times.

23 years later and I'm still married to the girl. She was worth it.
posted by COD at 5:11 PM on March 29, 2012


The soaring James Horner score comes swooning in as the camera pans towards the man on his knees in front of the beautiful woman. Rain pours down upon both of them. Apologetic, lost, and filled with love the man, as played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio mournfully shouts

"I ate the vomlet! I made other pledges eat it! That's brotherhood!"

The woman, played by a reanimated Clark Gable in drag, simply and stoically responds as expected.
posted by sendai sleep master at 5:28 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting comments.

I joined a fraternity back in the 80s at an engineering school in upstate New York.

Like pretty much an male group at the age, there was hazing. Mostly of the work kind like mopping floors, moving gravel, sanding wood, etc. Quite a bit of psychological intimidation like "do you really have what it takes to join us?". None of this vomit and piss stuff that's called out in the article.

Yes, there was a ton of drinking and peer pressure, but nothing like what mentioned in the article. Several brothers simply didn't drink and that was respected.

The fraternity formed my family (being 3,000 miles away from home). People made sure I was invited to their homes for holidays, when I was sick or injured I was taken care of, and I could trust those guys in pretty much any situation.

To this day, more than 25 years later, I'm still in touch with many of them on a daily basis. We argue politics, discuss kids and enjoyable middle age issues like prostates and colonoscopy.

Over the years, we have helped each other through deaths, births, divorces, near-fatal accidents, business failures, huge successes, and pretty much every life issue you can imagine. If I needed help, I could call upon these men and they would be on a plane, no questions asked.

That said, the culture of young men bonding is rough and hard, across all social groups. From the military to sport to gangs to pretty much any group of young men, there are rituals of acceptance. Like it or not, you see it everywhere. Pretending it's not a cornerstone of male culture is to reject reality.

I never saw the kind of stuff described in the article about Dartmouth, but it doesn't surprise me in the least. There's always a desired for the new people to be as 'hard' or 'tough' as the people that came before them. A cycle is created where the hazing increases until some sort of punishment occurs and it's drops down. Slowly the hazing increases again over time.

In my time on your birthday you got tossed in the shower and if you gave your fraternity pin to your girlfriend, you got tossed down a snowy hill or puddle and owed the House a keg of beer.

To the people that automatically dismiss people because they were in a fraternity or sorority, it's as bad as discriminating against any other group. Using stereotypes as your compass is never a good thing.

Do I wish the hazing didn't occur? Yes.

Do I think fraternities are inherently bad? No.

Will young men escape some sort of ritualistic hazing in any group environment in the future? Unlikely.
posted by Argyle at 5:47 PM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tennyson D'San: "I am a person who is regularly tasked with hiring people into an entry level position for a career that will occupy most of the rest of their lives.

My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder
"

Independent of your culling methods, about what careers these days can you say "will occupy most of the rest of the lives" of the people who start it?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can sleep when you're dead!

I actually did a ton of all nighters to get by in undergrad as well (sometimes 2 or 3 a week in essay season) - and it messed up my health seriously (I'm still dealing with it, 10 years later). But maybe I was already too old for that lifestyle - I was 21 when I began, and my best sleepless years were already behind me.
posted by jb at 6:01 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Back when I was an undergrad at Brown, we had this special dinner that was supposed to encourage us all to pledge sororities and fraternities. I wasn't interested in the frat, but my friends and I were interested in getting a good meal instead of the regular dining hall fare, so we went to this thing. The keynote speaker was this administrator from Dartmouth, but she kept shooting herself in the foot constantly. Not only did she mention Dartmouth as the inspiration for Animal House, but also bragged that there were only 3 alcohol-related fatalities or near-fatalities in the past few years. My friends thought this sales pitch for frats was so absurd that we just couldn't stop laughing, which totally irked this woman who was sitting at our table hoping to pick up frat guys but ended up sitting next to us nerds. Years later, I discover that the woman sitting next us to became a McKinnon/Dworkin-style antipornography feminist who started her own business selling T-shirts that said stuff like "Not For Aesthetic Consumption" and "F*** Your Fascist Beauty Standards." Wonder if any interactions with fraternities played a role in that transformation...
posted by jonp72 at 6:02 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all are being trolled. This article, with its physically implausible craziness, is a fantasy of frat life. It's telling that this thread is half people saying "I was in a frat at Dartmouth and I never saw anything like this," and half people saying "Stuff like this is why I never went anywhere near a frat where I might see such things!" This is a guy preparing for a book that will "blow the lid off the Greek system", and he is rather transperantly making up stories that have all the verisimillitude of a tale of day-care Satanic sexual abuse.

My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder.

Much as I dislike frats, Tennyson, I truly hope someone who applied to your company sees the comment and sues the crap out of you.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:08 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Much as I dislike frats, Tennyson, I truly hope someone who applied to your company sees the comment and sues the crap out of you.

While I personally hope no one sues you, +1. Stop that silliness!
posted by ian1977 at 6:11 PM on March 29, 2012


My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder.

Much as I dislike frats, Tennyson, I truly hope someone who applied to your company sees the comment and sues the crap out of you.


Sues him for what? I wasn't aware fraternity member was a protected class.

Also, he's not throwing out the resumes of people who happen to be in frats, he's throwing out the resumes of people who think that your fraternity membership is something that belongs on your resume.
posted by naoko at 6:19 PM on March 29, 2012 [20 favorites]


Sues him for what?

For being a judgmental peepee?
posted by ian1977 at 6:22 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


For the record, while I was always grateful I was in a sorority and not a fraternity, hazing is not and never has been restricted to males. A lot of these are sorority-only rituals, proving to anyone who ever wondered that yes, women certainly do sexually victimise one another. In my day, there were certainly paddles, drinking demands, a thing with a live goldfish, and sexually explicit challenges.

There are people in this thread saying they have been through the greek system and what they observed or participated in tallies with this man's account. People have written about it before. None of that is news to me. And in fact, before I read the synopsis of that book, I had forgotten the vomiting - at the guy's houses, it was vomiting from drink; at the girls' houses, it was a requirement to vomit after a house dinner.

It may not be widespread, but a cursory glance at any greek member discussion board will find you representatives of particular schools saying "yeah, it happens" among the people who are also genuinely saying "not on my campus." There is no universal Greek experience and it will vary hugely from house to house, campus to campus and decade to decade. And by nature, it is all very secretive and very hidden, which doesn't help whistleblowers.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:30 PM on March 29, 2012


Ok, I know we are supposed to take a nuanced view etc. etc. etc., but after a few years of frat posts hitting the blue, my first inclination is still:

"Frat" is just another word for "douchebag."
posted by clvrmnky at 6:30 PM on March 29, 2012


Actually, what is really funny is reading the list of Dartmouth grads in these famous white-man public roles. Just think, some of those storied men have taken it up the ass and swam in shit.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fraternity formed my family (being 3,000 miles away from home). People made sure I was invited to their homes for holidays, when I was sick or injured I was taken care of, and I could trust those guys in pretty much any situation.

To this day, more than 25 years later, I'm still in touch with many of them on a daily basis. We argue politics, discuss kids and enjoyable middle age issues like prostates and colonoscopy.

Over the years, we have helped each other through deaths, births, divorces, near-fatal accidents, business failures, huge successes, and pretty much every life issue you can imagine. If I needed help, I could call upon these men and they would be on a plane, no questions asked.


I have the exact same relationship with my closest friends from that time in my life as well. It's called friendship. There was no hazing or organization needed to form those bonds. Unless you consider 72 hour coffee fueled Madden football marathons to be "hazing".
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:35 PM on March 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


Sues him for what? I wasn't aware fraternity member was a protected class.

I suppose you're right---you can't actually sue someone for having arbitrary criterion for hiring, so long as those don't hit a protected class. Well, I'll settle for firing, then, for thinking that someone's extracurricular activities are grounds for throwing out their resume unread. If nothing else, that does prove incompetence.

There are people in this thread saying they have been through the greek system and what they observed or participated in tallies with this man's account.

I went to Dartmouth, graduated in 2009, and was a member of a fraternity while I was there. In the house that I was in, there was a 100% no involuntary drinking rule that was very strictly enforced.

it is not an accurate portrayal of Dartmouth or all of its frats.

While pledging was mentally grueling there wasn't any physical abuse or torment like this.

A friend of mine was at Darthmouth, in a frat that he described as every member being in two of the following categories: gay, cs major, in the band, jewish. Despite this, he stilled proudly described Thunderdoming to me and solo-doming



The one comment that seems to support the account is:

20 years ago I was at college on a campus with a huge Greek system in which I merrily took part, thanking God every single day that I was in the sorority system instead of subjected to the fraternity system. It was exactly like this then, and if someone wants to tell me it is exactly like this now, I am not inclined to doubt them.

Or in short, "Yeah, I too heard secondhand accounts of such things happening!" And exactly one story from Princeton about someone being invited to drink a bottle of gross stuff, which is a far cry from a classful of pledges swimming through vomit.

But hey, don't let plausibility get in the way of your outrage! Wouldn't want to mess with your fun.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:07 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Age 7: Secret club that meets in a tree house. Girls are not allowed
Age 14: Middle school cliques.
Age 18: Fraternities and Sororities
Adults: Masons, country clubs, etc.
Vets: VFW / American Legion
Really rich adults: Augusta National Golf Club.

There is nothing special or unique about fraternities. Members only clubs have been around as long as there have been enough people to start excluding somebody. If you didn't have frats on campus you'd have "co-ops" where grounds live together, share chores, etc. They'd have big parties where people drink too much, and they'd abuse new members. The fact that some of these groups choose to identify themselves with greek letters is meaningless.
posted by COD at 7:14 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I had no idea the Society of Automotive Engineers was so extreme.

I actually didn't know there were two SAEs. Now I completely understand why a bunch of wasted dudes came up to me at a college bar and raved about what a great time they had at my house the previous weekend. I was wearing an SAE (the engineering one) t-shirt.
posted by hwyengr at 7:18 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder.

And the arbitrary othering continues unabated...
posted by grog at 7:32 PM on March 29, 2012




So let me get this straight... you allow people to abuse the shit out of you with no purpose to it whatsoever, and what you get for tolerating this is a shirt with funny letters on it and you get to live with the same douchebags that abused you for the length of your college career?

I had as much fun, if not more, than any of the frat clowns did, and I didn't have to put up with any of that bullshit.

I don't get it.
posted by prepmonkey at 7:42 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone enjoying their two minute hate?
posted by effugas at 7:43 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


the college has produced a long list of celebrated alumni – among them two Treasury secretaries (Timothy Geithner, '83, and Henry Paulson Jr., '68), a Labor secretary (Robert Reich, '68) and a hefty sampling of the one percent (including the CEOs of GE, eBay and Freddie Mac, and the former chairman of the Carlyle Group)


I'm imagining the CEOs of Freddie Mac and Carlyle Group swimming in a kiddie pool filled with shit and vomit and I'm not outraged.
posted by braksandwich at 8:00 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Night Of The Seven Fires.
posted by ovvl at 8:06 PM on March 29, 2012


Its feeling a bit longer than two minutes.

I was president of the dartmouth alumni assn in Atlanta for 3 years. Before working in consulting for 3 years I helped raise 428K for Project Open Hand Atlanta -- a meals on wheels for folks with HIV. Even went back to Hanover to encourage students to do volunteer work for a year before heading into the corporate grind. I later quite the whole corporate scene entirely to pursue dharma practice at a monastery and ultimately, photography.

For class of '80 and earlier, probably 70pct of alums are attorneys and live suburban boring lives. We could not get them to come to events. The networking opportunities were lame. And the greek connection really didn't mean much. It mostly provoked an eye roll. Get into the 90's and forward, and more of alums work in medicine or public health (huge Centers for Disease Control contingent here). So some of the stuff here doesn't match my limited experience of both greek and non greek system people 5-25 years after their time in Hanover.

Personally I was not in the greek system, and I think Dartmouth would be better without it. I am quite surprised that the administration has not succeeded in getting rid of it by now.

But gettin' yer hate on is really not so great imho. k thanks going to go back to lurking now.
posted by morsananda at 8:16 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't get it.

Mandatory friends.
posted by cmoj at 8:19 PM on March 29, 2012


I went to Dartmouth, graduated in 2009, and was a member of a fraternity while I was there. In the house that I was in, there was a 100% no involuntary drinking rule that was very strictly enforced. If you had a midterm the next day, were feeling sick, or just didn't want to, absolutely no one in the house would pressure you to drink anything you did not want to.

The fact that this is a rule, makes me think it was normally a given to force drinking upon others. Otherwise, its just NORMAL to not force people to do things they don't want to. So I don't really see that as a "Hey, our frat is awesome". No.
posted by karathrace at 8:38 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had an acquaintance in college who pledged a frat because that's what he figured handsome athletic men-about-campus were supposed to do. Somehow it escaped his attention that he might have to walk around naked with carrots up his ass or whatever fool things pledges do, but when he found out he decided to stick it out because when you're young and stubborn you get these ideas. He obviously made it because he was a cool dude and everything. So he goes to whatever dumb ceremony they have where they handed him his fraternity shirt and he tossed it in a fire and told them they were assholes. I also knew a dude who karate fought an entire frat right in their own party. I knew all the best frat smashers!!
posted by SharkParty at 8:50 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also knew a dude who karate fought an entire frat right in their own party.

Best frat story EVER!
posted by karathrace at 9:34 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't the first thread that "two minute hate," a misguided reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four, has come up, but god I hope it's the last.
posted by JHarris at 10:07 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is a small college, and yet there are those who love it.

shoutout to my heretofore unknown Big Green mefites.
posted by rtha at 10:34 PM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hi. I graduated from Dartmouth in the late 90s, and as a member of a coed greek house when I as there. My house didn't have any hazing whatsoever, and I still maintain close ties to it. Because of the complicated relationship between the greek system and Dartmouth, I have been following this story for a while. Here's what I think are the sensationalized facets of the article, and what seems to be accurate ...

Lohse is trying to make news more than change anything. I don't know if he has an axe to grind against his house, SAE, or against the college after the cocaine incident, or what. In one editorial Lohse claims to have video and proof of the hazing, and have shown the administration. If he had video, I think we would have seen it in the Rolling Stone article.

In fact, Lohse has been unwilling to go on the record or provide evidence. It makes it seem like he's trying to stir the pot.

Dartmouth does not want to protect these assholes. This is one aspect that Rolling Stone gets wrong. Dartmouh tipped off SAE about an investigation? No, Dartmouth tipped off the police about where hazing might occur, and they conducted a sting with night vision goggles. The reason hazing didn't occur at that time isn't that college administrators told SAE there was an investigation. The reason hazing didn't occur is because SAE knew it was under investigation because of Lohse's public accusations.

Since the 90s, Dartmouth has been actively trying to get rid of greek houses that do not satisfy community standards. They've already kicked out 3 houses since I was an undergrad, and for far less than the alleged hazing. Dartmouth requires undergrads to live on-campus, and thus if they declare a greek house to be off-campus, they can effectively shutter it. They've done it for far, far less than the vile incidents Lohse exposes. The RS "local fraternity" aspect is b.s., because if a local screws up like this, it's gone, and gone for good.

So therefore, if Lohse had evidence, or was willing to go on the record as a witness, I do not doubt that Lohse could have already gotten SAE shut down.

Unfortunately, I do believe that the vile hazing incidents probably did occur. Having talked to current undergrads who found the stories believable, as well as the anonymous confirmations, leads me to believe that the facts here are basically true.

The big question for me is actually why Lohse hasn't cooperated with the police or college administration. Given the fact that he's already effectively on record, it's puzzling.
posted by cotterpin at 12:15 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I went to Dartmouth, graduated in 2009, and was a member of a fraternity while I was there. In the house that I was in, there was a 100% no involuntary drinking rule that was very strictly enforced. If you had a midterm the next day, were feeling sick, or just didn't want to, absolutely no one in the house would pressure you to drink anything you did not want to.

The fact that this is a rule, makes me think it was normally a given to force drinking upon others. Otherwise, its just NORMAL to not force people to do things they don't want to. So I don't really see that as a "Hey, our frat is awesome". No.


I wasn't posting it in an effort to make my frat seem awesome. I really just wanted people to know that some fraternities do not have this kind of hazing or, indeed, any kind of forced drinking or other harmful behavior. I think the toughest thing we had to do as pledges was wake up before the crack of dawn to go on a very short hike to see the sunrise.

Later in my Dartmouth career as a leader for the Outing Club I led many more "Sunrikes" where kids would sign up to do just that.

Also rtha it is cool to see other Dartmouth grads on the blue.

And cotterpin, I think things may have changed since you were there because people don't have to live on campus anymore.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:42 AM on March 30, 2012


You don't know who your friends are until you're crawling through a gauntlet of week-old, decomposing raw chicken parts while having your buttocks savaged by a fire hose.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:45 PM on March 29


Luxury! We used t' dream o' crawling through t' gauntlet o' week-old, decomposing raw chicken parts while 'aving buttocks savaged by t' fire hose! That would o' bin a dreeeam to us!
posted by Decani at 6:17 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wondered about the on-campus requirement too, because when I was there in the 80s, you had to live on campus your freshman year and your sophomore summer and that was it. And I managed to get out of living on-campus my sophomore summer, even!
posted by rtha at 6:18 AM on March 30, 2012


I don't know if the on-campus requirement is true in the most literal sense, but the important thing is the that college cares about and wants to approve where you are living. The Dartmouth fraternities are mostly privately owned buildings, and the greek organizations are private institutions, so it's not obvious exactly how the college could "just get rid of them". My understanding is that a residency requirement for undergrads is the mechanism that they use. In practice, this is why the fraternities need the college administration.
posted by cotterpin at 6:53 AM on March 30, 2012


Plus, most campuses are generally their own little worlds apart from the ramifications of the real world anyway. I think seeing frats and sororities as subcultures within these worlds makes sense, another level of non-accountability via the "don't worry, we got this" standard. I went to NYU for undergrad, which was unique in this regard. Not having a real "campus," we didn't have the same kind of insularity I've seen at other universities. The dorms were all co-ed, and people partied like crazy without needing specific functions for it.

I actually felt kind of sorry for the frats at NYU, because we were in the middle of New York City, and all the students were always swanning off to CBGB's and the Limelight and whatnot and the poor frats were there all, "um....guys? Come to our party? We've, um....well, we got a keg....hey, guys?...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]



The fact that this is a rule, makes me think it was normally a given to force drinking upon others. Otherwise, its just NORMAL to not force people to do things they don't want to. So I don't really see that as a "Hey, our frat is awesome". No.

Have you never met college students? Encouraging bad decisions in your peers, whether it's excess drinking or staging Heiner Müller plays, is pretty much what people do.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:31 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read The Real Animal House: The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie recently and can highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys: Animal House, scatological humor, and/or the 1960s.
posted by knile at 7:33 AM on March 30, 2012


My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a social fraternity or sorority. From frat row right into the shredder.


Others have picked up on this and been critical. While this doesn't guarantee an automatic rejection, I've never once seen an entry-level candidate who listed a greek affiliation on a resume that was worth hiring. That's not to say I haven't interviewed and hired people who were in fraternities and sororities in college, it just means that they knew not to list it on their resume.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


To see what myself and other sorority/fraternity members don't like about being automatically "shredded" is if you just swap out a few words.

My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a theater group.

My very first "culling" of CVs consists of shredding any that list a LGBT group.


If such a thing were posted, the response would be quite different.
posted by Argyle at 8:34 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Argyle,

From what I am reading, the culling is not if they were members of a fraternity, but instead list that as a point on their resume. To me, that is stating that because they were members of a fraternity, that is a point in their favor on why they should be hired.

As far as I know, sexual orientation is not placed on resumes. (Not even at the drag club where my room mate works)
posted by Hactar at 8:41 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


To see what myself and other sorority/fraternity members don't like about being automatically "shredded" is if you just swap out a few words.


You should write your fraternity and ask for some of your dues back - they failed some basic educational lesson. Not all voluntary associations are the same.

Would you feel the same way if people listed the KKK or NAMBLA? See, there are some voluntary associations that people choose to make that may color the way you feel about them. Judging people for their sexual orientation is not the same as judging them for the choices they made and continue to make when they list them on a resume.

Fraternities do not have a parallel cultural history as theater organizations. They were opponents of integration and generally serve a regressive role regarding social justice. On average they admitted non-white members much later than other collegiate institutions, they still struggle with LGBT acceptance and equality, they fought against sex equality (and continue with bizarre gender existentialism) and the list goes on.

If you chose to ignore this history and seek acceptance into these bastions of privilege, that's on you. Maybe it's important to you in ways I can't understand, having chosen to not participate in these hierarchies. But if you list it on a resume, it shows you don't know how the rest of the world sees these things - and that type of ignorance is something I can judge your resume for.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Allen.Spaulding, I'm not a yay-frats-are-awesome person either, but I still think you're going a little far.

That opinion of frats is one that is held by you, not "the rest of the world." While I personally would place theater above fraternities when it comes to "mine own personal code of social hierarchy", I would never slight a person listing frat membership on a resume. They just happened to do something different with their time, that's all.

You are indeed coming across as being prejudicial. And no, that doesn't mean that I would look the other way if someone listed "the Nazis" on their resume -- because frats aren't like the Nazis.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ultimately, everything you put in a resume is about what you're signaling to employers as a candidate.

If you list a theater group, you signal that you might be more social, persuasive, able to speak effectively, etc. Pretty good.

If you list an LGBT group, it's about diversity, about wanting to work in an environment that's LGBT-friendly, etc. Also pretty good, or if it's bad you wouldn't want to work there.

What do you signal by listing your fraternity? To me, it signals that you're interested in an old boys' network - "I'll help you get ahead because you were a SigEp and I was too" - and it's also a flag that you need to rely on things outside of academics, relevant work experience and leadership roles. It signals that you're interested in a work environment that has a "fratty" culture. It's perfectly fine for an employer that doesn't desire such a culture - which can be unwelcoming to all sorts of people - to consider it a major flag.
posted by naju at 8:47 AM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


That opinion of frats is one that is held by you, not "the rest of the world."

Sure, but there's a non-zero chance that someone who thinks the way I do will be reading the resume. And this isn't an arbitrary or invalid position to hold - frats do play this role, they are leaders in hazing, gang rape, racial and sexist backlash, etc. Not all, but plenty. And if a job candidate's wasn't like that, well, great. When I hear that, I assume people are saying that their Klan chapter was really about social bonding and charity work.

If you won't judge, that's great, but it's a bizarre thing to put on a resume.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:52 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, but there's a non-zero chance that someone who thinks the way I do will be reading the resume. And this isn't an arbitrary or invalid position to hold - frats do play this role, they are leaders in hazing, gang rape, racial and sexist backlash, etc. Not all, but plenty. And if a job candidate's wasn't like that, well, great.

But if you shred their resume -- as you've admitted to doing -- how will you ever find out that "a job candidate's frat wasn't like that"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on March 30, 2012


Do you toss resumes that list the candidate's membership or leadership role on sports teams, too?
posted by rtha at 8:54 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, if you toss resumes that show the candidate being a member of a fraternity like Alpha Kappa Alpha or Kappa Alpha Psi, you may be (unknowingly) setting yourself up for an anti-discrimination suit.
posted by rtha at 8:57 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't shred resumes, that was someone else. And to rtha, I've said this before, there's never even been a close call that someone was worth calling in for an interview. And as I said above, I do work with people who were involved with Greek Life, but they all knew not to put it on their resume. My law school roommate was president of his fraternity in college (and a co-founder). I'm not advocating throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I've literally never come across an above-average resume that happened to list that. It'd be like listing your SAT score once you're in your 20s (which I've seen, again never on good resumes).
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:57 AM on March 30, 2012


What do you signal by listing your fraternity? To me, it signals that you're interested in an old boys' network - "I'll help you get ahead because you were a SigEp and I was too" - and it's also a flag that you need to rely on things outside of academics, relevant work experience and leadership roles. It signals that you're interested in a work environment that has a "fratty" culture. It's perfectly fine for an employer that doesn't desire such a culture - which can be unwelcoming to all sorts of people - to consider it a major flag.

So you see theatre as a plus, but frats as a negative on a resume. This is bias, pure and simple. I don't like frats, but I'm starting to see bitter hate coming out of mefites. And the sad part is, most of us haters don't even understand why its wrong. Mob mentality.
posted by karathrace at 8:59 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well theater involves some sort of skill at least? But in general I don't really think that college clubs belong on your resume unless a) they are relevant to the job in some way and/or b) you are like 22 and have nothing else to put on your resume.
posted by naoko at 9:09 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the general negative view of frats found here is because of the interactions that outsiders had with them.

The only experience I had with frats in college was getting a phone call from a friend about 2 days after she was raped at a fraternity. She was busted for consuming alcohol as a minor. They had no repercussions.

The image that frats project, or at least the image that circulates to outsiders is as an exclusionary organization that gives not two shits about anyone outside of their organization. That draws ranks around members who commit crimes.

Admittedly, this is due in part to the fact that the only times frats make the news are drinking deaths (or the occasional piece about rape or the promotion of rape) outside of pieces like this in RS. Frats are regarded (and perhaps rightly) as institutions of privilege, that simply serve to perpetuate the old boys network.

I contrast this with the examples given in the above- theater, working for a LGBT organization, sports, all of which seek to improve things for people outside of the actual organization. Perhaps alumni of these frats go on to do something good, but the organizations themselves seem to resemble a police union more than anything else.

If there is some great charitable work that most fraternities undertake for non-frat members, please point me toward it. I am working off of anecdota and perceptions, but they're all I have.
posted by Hactar at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Agreed with naoko, but also I don't hate frats. I was in a decent one and I know about Greek life intimately, so I know the stereotype is often untrue. I was defending them upthread a bit. But I'd never, ever list it on my resume, because of the baggage surrounding fraternities, the non-relevance to any position I'd want, the air of networking, etc. It's not about bias, or about how I'd personally feel. It's about what you're signaling by putting this line on your resume, what you'd like out of your job, what you'd like me to perceive you as. I don't want to work in a job that's "post-frat central" and I don't want to be surrounded by coworkers who treat the office like a fraternity. Plain and simple.

As another example I have no bias toward or against religion, but if you list your church group and the roles you play in it on your resume I will consider that a huge flag. Why is signalling your church activities important to this job? Why do you want me to perceive you as religious?
posted by naju at 9:24 AM on March 30, 2012


Right, exactly. FWIW, my little brother is the pledgemaster (I think they call it something less Animal House sounding now but that's what it is) of a SAE chapter at another university (I've asked him if they do this kind of stuff, he says no, but I'm not sure that if they did he would tell me), and I'm dating a guy who was in a fraternity (I'm guessing at the same school as Argyle, though), so I'm not an automatic frat hater, but on a resume it reads to me as signalling some sense of old boys' network entitlement.

As for Hactar's question, frats are generally involved in some sort of community service.
posted by naoko at 9:35 AM on March 30, 2012


the organizations themselves seem to resemble a police union more than anything else.

Yep. Again, lots of fraternities and sororities have great people who do great things, and not all fraternities are exclusive (some have open admission). But a lot (the majority) exist solely to include its members and exclude others.

No one seems to be contesting that part of the story at all:

* what happens in the house stays in the house (omerta)
* brothers above everything

It's like the police in many ways.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:58 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We had mandatory community service. Every single frat and sorority at my large Midwestern University did the same. As far as I know, it is a general requirement for all the national greek organizations that each chapter dedicate x hours per semester to community service, or do x number of community service projects per year. Collectively, fraternity and sorority members must contribute millions of hours and dollars each year to community service.

It's been over 20 years, but I think we did two projects per year, with one being "big." For years my frat ran the "haunted forest" at the park for the town every Halloween. We designed and built the scary things, costumes, etc, all out of our pocket. Then we worked 6-10 PM or so every night for a week putting on the event. I think the entire thing was free for the kids, but if there was an entrance fee 100% went straight back to the town.

BTW it started when one of us saw in the paper that the town was shutting down the event due to lack of funds. We called up and volunteered to take over.

Just off the home page of my frat here are three current community service projects.

Now multiply that by the 100 or so greek organizations, then again by 8 for each month of the school year. That is a boatload of good being done in communities all across the country.
posted by COD at 10:33 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was in a college fraternity. I'm sure my experience was atypical, primarily due to the fact my college was a small state school with a very liberal/hippy ethos. My fraternity (and the Greek system in general) was pretty diverse in terms of ethnic mix and we had at least two openly gay members during my active tenure.

I would estimate that roughly 99% of our "hazing" basically amounted to some excuse to make people drink a lot of beer, which, that being one of the major draws of the fraternity in the first place, I don't think anyone participating found too horrible (members who didn't drink alcohol were never pushed to do so, although this was admittedly a very small percentage of our membership).

For all of the "buying friends" barbs that are occasionally directed toward fraternity members, I have to confess, I look back at this period of my life with nothing but fondness (and I'm sure friends who I've made in my post-collegiate years probably tire of my "fraternity days" tales). Several of my fraternity brothers remain great friends, despite my not having paid fraternity dues in 17 years, including one who was the best man at my wedding.

To answer a question posed above, my fraternity participated in a number of community service projects ranging from volunteering at various local charity events to my being a campus Sexual Harassment Prevention Consultant. I'm not going to make the ridiculous claim that the ability to participate in community service projects was the major draw of anyone to the Greek system, but that was a component of membership nonetheless.

Inevitable "Who is going to think of the poor fraternity guys?" snark notwithstanding, I'm amused by the way some Mefites are able to compartmentalize hurtful stereotyping. There seems to be this belief among some Mefites that if membership in a group is voluntary, it is fair game to make the absolute worst sort of assumptions of those who identify with that group, while doing the same with any group affiliation that is involuntary (racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation) would get you labeled as a bigot.
posted by The Gooch at 12:40 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


COD, The Gooch.

Thank you.
posted by Hactar at 1:18 PM on March 30, 2012


Dammit, guys, how dare you introduce actual facts about fraternities into this discussion! You'll ruin spaulding and Tennyson's hate-on!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:43 PM on March 30, 2012


Putting it on a resume, particularly if you happened to be in a leadership position at the fraternity/sorority/coed, isn't just about the "Old Boys Network". Our president ran a 5-figure renovation to the physical plant, our house manager negotiated an easement with the college (with supervision, obviously) for use of our land for a heating tunnel and staging area during the building of a new library, etc. I had a friend at another school who was social chair for his house, which included responsibility for hiring a chef and ordering all of the food/kitchen supplies for meals served at the house for the term (we didn't do that at Dartmouth, but a lot of other schools do allow it). Our treasurer had to pay all of our house expenses, including property taxes, heating oil, electrical, etc. I'd think that those would be pretty good items to list on a resume for an entry-level job coming out of college.
posted by mzanatta at 3:48 PM on March 30, 2012


It's been good to see other Dartmouth alums in this thread.

Despite my stated feelings about frats, I will say that Lohse sounds pretty confused. Like for instance this quote:

"And then you're in on the joke. You go to one of the best schools in America and you sit on the floor and eat green eggs and ham... and you're going to run the world really soon."

I don't know if they've changed this since I was there, but you didn't sit on the floor, you sat on a bench at a table. And there was a guy standing on the mantel of a giant stone fireplace, reading "Green Eggs and Ham". And there was another guy telling you the tale of spooky old Doc Benton in front of the fire at night. And it was pretty awesome.

The freshman trips can definitely be intimidating--you suddenly find yourself thrown into a large group of people who are as smart or smarter than you (when you've been accustomed to being one of the smarter people in the room), and it's probably the first time you've been away from home. But they're mostly a chance to get to know other people. I led a trip my senior year and I actually ended up having to agree to disagree with one guy about frats, because he was set on pledging.

So I think it's bogus to equate the entire Dartmouth experience to what this guy went through.
posted by A dead Quaker at 3:59 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dammit, guys, how dare you introduce actual facts about fraternities into this discussion! You'll ruin spaulding and Tennyson's hate-on!

The whole "we do community service" angle is weird. I mean, conceivably, so did the White Citizens Councils. And they played a similar role in the development of our country. It's just a terrible rejoinder to what's being said here and shows the type of circle-the-wagons mentality that others have criticized. So what if my friend beats his wife, he gives to charity and you just don't know all the details!

Is anyone in this thread denying the basic criticisms I've laid out? That evidence shows that fraternities are statistically more likely to engage in sexual assault and substantially more likely to engage in gang rape? That the Greek system was one of the last major cultural institutions to embrace integration, often decades later than others? That gender essentialism is built into the organizations, with the extremely rare exception of coed organizations? That acceptance of LGBT members is still slow-coming and while steps are being made, gay bashing and homophobia is still far too prevalent? (And as others have pointed out, but not me, that there's still a lot of old-boy nepotism and favoritism that works to get people placed in jobs outside of meritocratic means.)

I get this may not have been everyone's experience. As I said before, I've had close friends who were involved with Greek life on their campuses and I don't think they all reflected every part of this problem. Yet I do think they chose to be a part of this system.

And those who say they saw none of this, that this may be true somewhere but it didn't happen here - well, it has to happen somewhere. Statistics are statistics. And these are national organizations that cross-subsidize each other. There are network effects here where the value of an alumni network grows, even as "good" chapters subsidize "bad" ones.

Every year there will be a few more kids who die in hazings, a lot of gay bashing, a lot of gang rape, and lots of brothers who looks the other way. Honestly ask yourself if you don't have a thumb on the scale for behavior your "brothers" performed that you might find objectionable in others. The whole point of these rituals and this phraseology is to form cohesive social bonds - one aspect of which is that you're more understanding and forgiving of those inside your group and believe that any criticism lobbied against them must be wrong because it lacks your insider knowledge of what really happened.

That's what these defenses sound like: a refusal to allow others to negatively characterize something important to you, which causes you to reject the truthfulness of the accusation regardless of its accuracy. In other words, you can't possibly know, you're just a GDI.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:30 PM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


allen.spaulding: The whole "we do community service" angle is weird. I mean, conceivably, so did the White Citizens Councils. And they played a similar role in the development of our country. It's just a terrible rejoinder to what's being said here and shows the type of circle-the-wagons mentality that others have criticized. So what if my friend beats his wife, he gives to charity and you just don't know all the details!

In fairness, upthread Hactar asked:

If there is some great charitable work that most fraternities undertake for non-frat members, please point me toward it. I am working off of anecdota and perceptions, but they're all I have.

I don't think good-faith efforts to answer that question should be construed as attempts to claim, "...and that justifies any bad things that have ever happened in the Greek system, ever."
posted by The Gooch at 5:07 PM on March 30, 2012


The Gooch, I agree and apologize for being overly harsh. I've seen that defense before and incorrectly assumed it was appearing here.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:29 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was also just responding to Hactar's question, for the record.
posted by naoko at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2012


allen.spaulding: You've mentioned gang rape a few times here, which is obviously a heck of a charge to paint all fraternities with. I don't doubt that it has happened at fraternities considering the mix of alcohol, young males, and yes, shameful reinforcement of misogynistic views at some fraternities and colleges. Of course we unfortunately have specific examples as well. But your referenced source, Sanday's "Fraternity Gang Rape", directly states that:
I wish to emphasize at the outset that the specific location is not relevant to the subject of this book. The kind of behavior this case illustrates appears to be widespread not only among fraternities but in many other exclusively male contexts at colleges and universities in the United States, such as organized sports. It or its equivalent is also found outside universities where men band together in clubs, work groups, athletic teams, military units, and business conventions - in all the settings we associate with the term "stag party."
These issues can appear anytime men gather in groups, not just within fraternities. The title refers to a specific incident at a fraternity which forms the basis for a representative investigation, but is not limited to fraternities themselves. She also later points out that there are signs to determine whether or not a fraternity is likely to be one of the "bad" ones and takes care to point out that there are also "good" ones. I'd also like to point out that the study citing the incidents of gang rape at fraternities was from 1985, using data from earlier in the decade. While, sadly, I know we haven't gotten to the point where we should be as a society, I would hope that we've made some significant progress in 20-30 years.

Again, I agree there are problems to be addressed. But you're swinging with a pretty big stick that I don't feel is either accurate or appropriate.
posted by mzanatta at 6:05 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have absolutely no problem with people defending frats, but the comparisons to sexual orientation, race, religion or gender strike me as pretty trivializing. I mean, to take an example from my own life, nobody is bankrolling multimillion dollar campaigns to prevent fraternity brothers from getting legally married. Comparing frats to other student activities or voluntary social groups gets the point across fine and is actually, I think, a better and more illuminating comparison.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:07 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


These issues can appear anytime men gather in groups, not just within fraternities

Thank you. I wrote out a long post making this point, then decided it was wasted effort as minds are made up. My father was a post commander for both the VFW and American Legion. Fraternity kids have nothing on 50 year old Vets when it comes to over consumption and juvenile behavior.
posted by COD at 8:09 PM on March 30, 2012


Mzanatta - yes, Sanday is clear that this occurs elsewhere, I've never said otherwise. But last time I checked the BJS statistics, fraternity members were nine times more likely to gang rape than non-fraternity men on a college campus.

Look, there's a reason why I bring this up and a continued refusal to accept these statistics is odd. I get that some people assume this is from bitterness or jealousy, but it's not. This is getting to be a pretty ridiculous long boat, but there's a reason why activists who care about fighting sexual assault on campus care about these issues. Fraternity members commit an outsized share of all sexual assault on campus, but especially gang rape.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:36 AM on March 31, 2012


Fraternity kids have nothing on 50 year old Vets when it comes to over consumption and juvenile behavior.

Or 20-year-old PFCs. Let's just see how the U.S. Army portrays these 8 women.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:50 PM on April 2, 2012


Bros Before Hos: College Fraternities and Sexual Exploitation

" ... it should not surprise us that the structure and the historical context of the fraternity give rise to this phenomenon: an all-male organization intent on proving masculinity in a world where masculinity is seen as antithetical to intimacy amongst men, because that intimacy is too often understood to be “gay.” Until fraternity men learn to be more comfortable with the intimacy fostered through the bonds of brotherhood without demanding its concurrent disavowal through homophobia and the conquest of women, it seems unlikely that women will be much safer on college campuses with active Greek populations.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:54 PM on April 2, 2012


I remembered that I'd posted some photos to facebook of the shanties I mentioned upthread. Here's one I've put on flickr, and here's one of the many of us who took over the administration building in the aftermath of the shanties being sledgehammered by members of the Dartmouth Review.
posted by rtha at 8:54 AM on April 3, 2012




Oh no, probation!
posted by mrgrimm at 2:36 PM on April 25, 2012


The 3-term probation is only what's being reported. That doesn't include the double super secret probation, which I hear is even worse.
posted by The World Famous at 2:46 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


And worst of all, this is now on their permanent records.
posted by COD at 10:01 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


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