Lohse '12 releases tell-all book detailing fraternity hazing
Andrew Lohse ’12, who accused Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity of hazing in a 2012columnthat ignited a firestorm about the College’s Greek system, has penned a tell-all book. “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir” went on sale Tuesday.
In about 300 pages, Lohse describes SAE as fascinating and repulsive, detailing frequent cocaine usage and pledge activities like vomiting competitions. New members, he alleges, were forced to swim in kiddie pools filled with bodily fluids, chug vinegar and consume omelets made of vomit.
“They were often thoughtful and detail-oriented about their hazing,” Lohse offers at one point, describing his fraternity brothers’ willingness to accommodate his lactose intolerance by providing soy milk in a chugging contest.
Lohse writes that he willingly participated in these rituals, serving as rush chair, and suggests Stockholm syndrome, a psychological condition in which a victim emotionally bonds with his or her abuser, as a possible excuse for his behavior.
In 2012, the College launched an investigationinto SAE in response to Lohse’s public account. Later that year, the College charged SAE and 27 of its members with hazing violations. Charges against all 27 members were later dropped.
College spokesperson Justin Anderson wrote in a statement at the time that “information initially presented to the UJAO supported the charges. Information received subsequently, however, indicated that the initial information contained inaccuracies and was not a sufficient basis for the charges to proceed to hearing.”
The withdrawal of charges came two days after Rolling Stone magazine published an article featuring Lohse's account of hazing at SAE.
In April 2012 SAE was sentenced to a three-term probation and was required to develop a new alcohol management plan.
In a campus-wide email, then associate dean of campus life April Thompson wrote that the Organizational Adjudication Committee, a panel of students, faculty and staff, had found SAE responsible for hazing, disorderly conduct and providing alcohol to underage students. SAE admitted to driving blindfolded students off campus and having new members enter a "splash pool filled with food," acts that constitute hazing, she wrote.
However, she wrote that "the OAC did not find a preponderance of evidence that SAE engaged in the most egregious of the allegations detailed in the report and did not find a preponderance of evidence that SAE hazed new members in 2011."
Lohse, who was suspended from the College after pleading no contest to cocaine possession, witness tampering and intoxication in 2010, is currently on medical leave from the College, and has not yet decided if he will return.
He alleged that he met with David Spalding, former College President Jim Yong Kim’s chief of staff, in November 2010. In that meeting, he wrote in his memoir, he showed Spaulding a photo of new members about to be hazed.
“I was led to believe at the time that I was making a report of a large magnitude,” Lohse said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “So yeah, was it optimistic to think that that could cause reform? Sure.”
Spalding could not be reached for comment by press time.
Lohse, who spent two years writing “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy,” said he believes the Greek system should be abolished. If Dartmouth administrators and the Board of Trustees don’t have the “political will or moral courage” to do so, he said he believes making all houses coed is the next best option.
“[Fraternities] are old, antiquated institutions,” Lohse said. “And I personally don’t see them as having a place in the 21st century, least of all at such a prestigious and amazing school.”
The College has strengthened its anti-hazing and alcohol education policies in the past two years, Anderson wrote in a statement to The Dartmouth, adding that College President Phil Hanlon has identified reducing harmful campus behaviors as a “leadership priority.”
“Dartmouth provides many opportunities and strong support for learning and personal growth in and out of the classroom,” the College’s statement read. “It is regrettable when a student, like Mr. Lohse, makes poor choices and fails to take advantage of the experience and resources we provide.”
The College’s recently formed presidential steering committee is expected to present the Board of Trustees with recommendations aimed at ending high-risk behaviors in January 2015.
Abolishing Greek life was the most popular submission received online by the committee,receiving more than 250 suggestions.
SAE’s national leadership announced in March that its members would no longer complete a pledging process before becoming fully initiated members. SAE spokesperson Brandon Weghorst wrote in an email that this change was not related to Lohse’s allegations.
After SAE headquarters learned of Lohse’s allegations through media reports in 2012, it launched an investigation but could not validate them. Lohse did not communicate directly with national headquarters about his concerns, the organization wrote in a statement.
Brendan Mahoney ’12, president of Dartmouth’s SAE chapter when Lohse’s column was published, could not be reached for comment by press time. Michael Fancher ’13, who became SAE’s president during the investigation following Lohse’s allegations, declined to comment.
Current SAE president Daegwon Chae ’15 wrote in an email that none of the fraternity’s current members were affiliated during the time of Lohse’s allegations. He pointed to the national fraternity's decision to end the traditional pledge program as evidence that the fraternity has been proactive in eliminating “any semblance of hazing or inappropriate behavior.”
Reviews of the book and articles publicizing its release have appeared in outlets like the Huffington Post, Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail.
The memoir was published by Thomas Dunne Books.
Taylor Malmsheimer contributed reporting.