Out August 26th, Andrew Lohse's Confessions of An Ivy League Frat Boy, is the latest book to take on Greek life, specifically the rare breed found at Dartmouth College. Recounting his own experience as a student—before dropping out—Lohse chronicles a culture of heavy drinking, hazing, drug use, racial insensitivity, sexism, homophobia and sexual assault. A divisive character since he was profiled in Rolling Stone in 2012, Lohse has already seen his book slammed by the Wall Street Journal editorial page as an unconvincing attempt at a movie deal, which criticized the college for offering Lohse admission in the first place. We spoke with Lohse about personally peeing in the drinks served at parties, learning to treat women like they didn’t matter and realizing the Greek system is just a bad 19th century hangover.
Joe Rago, a Dartmouth Phi Delt alum writing for the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page called your story, "far fetched." What is your response to that?
The book is 100 percent factual based on true series of events in my life. These things happened, to suggest otherwise is woefully ignorant and kind of ridiculous. I would love to hear about the bible study that was going on at Phi Delt, and all the totally innocent things that they were doing, because it would be a very interesting contrast.
You’re very controversial figure in the Dartmouth community.
It’s not something that I lose a minute of sleep over. People at schools like Dartmouth have a rarified concept of the school that almost takes on a religious context for some people, and a lot of them see the fraternities and sororities the same way.
There a lot of debate over whether or not you actually swam in bodily fluids.
The book speaks for itself. When I was a pledge we were told that these different bodily fluids were in the kiddie pool. When we became brothers there were bodily fluids in the kiddie pool. In 2010 a brother took a shit in the mixture that was put in the kiddie pool. I didn’t see the feces leaving his body but it smelled like shit. People regularly urinated in that mixture that was dumped in the kiddie pool, they vomited in it, they ejaculated in it. All the hazing related things in the book have been confirmed by people who were there.
You also write that you know of brothers who would pee into the lemonade at parties. You suggest possibly 1,000 people ingested these drinks. What did you see?
It was almost a weekly thing. I know the people who made the lemonade. They would pee it. We would pee in it together, we would invite our friends to pee in it, sometimes guys from other houses would pee in it. Then people would bartend and pass those drinks out.
You have said you were encouraged to treat women like they didn’t matter. How were you encouraged to do this?
The important function [of fraternity meetings] is as an oral story-telling hour. It involves a lot of vomit and off-color shit. The brothers would give each other beers based on some kind of hook up. It would get down to the very gritty details of different sexual conquests. Our pledge chairs would encourage us to go out and get these stories of women. The more off-color, the more raunchy the better. The whole system was about embarrassing each other and really utterly humiliating a lot of the women who would have sex with these guys or hook up with them. I always wondered if these women knew that their sexual lives with really any fraternity brother was not a secret.
Dartmouth has the highest per capita rate of rape reported in the Ivy League. You've written about "bros calling girls sluts and slampieces," and "tireless efforts to get girls drunk and hook up with them, only to speak degradingly of them later." Do you think there is a connection between the language used and what happens behind closed doors?
Yes, absolutely. Someone would actually have to be stupid or woefully ignorant to not see that there is a connection between that and a broken male female dynamic on campus that is hurting people. There is an ipso-facto problem here when you essentially have gender segregation social system for students between the ages of 19 and 22. We don’t live in a gender-segregated world anymore. A lot of the problems that we see now from Greek life are coming from the fact we have a social system from the 19th century transplanted into the 21st century, and we expect it to work.
Do you think the frat culture you describe is unique to Dartmouth?
Dartmouth is a rather unique case because of how inflamed the problems are. As a national issue this is something that happens at many schools, but Dartmouth has the standing and the resources to be a leader on how to combat these changes.
You've criticized the alumni for a love of the status quo and the administration for lack of moral courage, can you elaborate?
Among a certain type of alum there is a love of the status quo and there is no political will or desire to change it. For a lot of folks this comes from a nostalgia, which is not connected to the social realities of the campus now, or the changing landscape of higher education. And if the administration really had a student safety focused mentality they would have cleaned up the fraternity and Greek system culture long ago. When I say moral courage, I mean the ability and the desire to stand up for something that is right even if you know you are going to be criticized for it.