Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth's Hazing Abuses

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That November, living at home and angry over what he saw as the unfairness of his predicament, Lohse quietly visited the campus to report SAE for hazing. He had been encouraged to make the move by several friends and by his brother, Jon, who had quit his own fraternity during his senior year. Lohse met with Dartmouth's associate dean for campus life, April Thompson, and David Spalding, Kim's chief of staff, who was a brother at Alpha Delta of Animal House infamy. He told himself the move was in the fraternity's – and Dartmouth's – best interests. "I saw my role as a reformer," he says. "I would argue that making these issues front and center is a very positive thing to do."

Telling none of his friends or fraternity brothers that he was in Hanover, Lohse presented the school officials with a "dossier of fraternity-hazing and substance-abuse-related­ information." For well over an hour, he detailed his experiences and even named names; at one point, he showed the administrators a photo of his pledge class standing in front of a table holding more than 550 cups of beer, explaining that evening's mission: to consume all of it. Spalding, Lohse says, "was aghast."

But Lohse "still clung to the idea that things could be different without me having to be truly public" – in part, he says, to protect himself from the kind of retaliation Aubart endured after informing on Lohse and the other SAEs. Both Thompson and Spalding assured Lohse that protecting his anonymity would be "a priority," he says. "I thought I could reform SAE on the inside," he says. "I never saw it as 'narcing' on them."

Two weeks passed without word from anyone at Dartmouth. Just after Thanksgiving, Lohse e-mailed Thompson to follow up. He was told that, acting on the information he had provided about SAE's upcoming "Hell Night," the last and traditionally most intense night of the pledge term, the Hanover police were preparing to stage a sting operation in the hopes of catching the fraternity breaking the law. Lohse responded with a lengthy e-mail, arguing that focusing on one fraternity would do nothing to prompt a sweeping overhaul of the Greek system.

The sting, in fact, proved to be a failure: The cops had tried to bust the brothers in the act of hazing pledges in a public place, but all they saw that night was a bunch of drunken kids near a statue of Robert Frost, reciting the code of the True Gentleman. "We're not idiots," says an SAE brother. "The stuff we do outside can't be seen as hazing." Lohse believed the fraternity had been tipped off – and indeed, Spalding later told The Dartmouth that administrators had discussed plans for Hell Night with the president of SAE to ensure that the event would not violate the college's hazing policy.

Counseled by his brother and his friends, Lohse decided to force the college's hand by going to the media. On the advice of Professor Bronski, who had written for The Village Voice, Lohse even tried to set up meetings with reporters from The Boston Globe and The New York Times. But at the last minute, Lohse backed off. "I wasn't ready," he says. "A part of me still wanted to go back to Dartmouth and return to my fraternity and party." That winter he took off for Asia, where he spent a few months traveling with his brother and working for a small NGO in Nepal. He continued to e-mail Thompson, asking about the status of the investigation, but says she failed to respond. He also says he began getting his act together. "The longer I stayed away, the less I drank," he says, "and the less I felt like the person I was at Dartmouth."

Lohse returned to Hanover last summer, to prepare for his junior year. He also returned to SAE, where he was still a brother, even if one now tainted by a cocaine bust. "He told everyone he'd traveled the world and was a changed person," says a former friend. "But he was still drinking and smoking weed, still actively pursuing all the things that had gotten him in trouble to begin with." To some, Lohse still seemed furious by what had happened to him. "Andrew has the full weight of the law brought down upon him, gets suspended and gets angrier at something he had already been really angry about," says an SAE brother.

Lohse channeled some of his rage by becoming a columnist for The Dartmouth, where he took on subjects like Dartmouth's culture of corporate recruiting, describing it in one op-ed as having "siphoned off some of our great minds into a dead-end field that sanitizes the intellect, offers almost nothing to human society and conditions people to act in ways that are decidedly inhuman." At the same time, he clung, albeit tepidly, to his identity as a "true bro." Last October, right before fall rush, he wrote a column extolling the fraternal experience: "I must concede that, happily or tragically, many of my most poignant experiences here have dealt with fraternity life [and] I've been trying to come to terms with them all – and with how I let those experiences become too tightly entwined with my identity." His advice to those who pledged was to support one another. "Don't forget who you are and don't be consumed by who you think you are becoming," he wrote. "Trust me, the two will never be as distinct as you are led to believe."

But Lohse himself was spiraling downward. After being out in the "real world" and traveling in Asia, which he describes as an "awakening," he now had trouble taking Dartmouth seriously, with its petty fraternity politics and drinking culture. Feeling ostracized by his fellow students, he fell into a depression he calls a "toxic mixture of anxiety and alienation." Some former friends recall Lohse himself as the polarizing force: He would show up drunk at people's doors at 3 a.m., or spend half the night on a desperate search for drugs. "The problem with Andrew is he's always the victim, he doesn't take responsibility for what he does," says one of his former buddies. "But you always want to give him the benefit of the doubt because he's so charismatic. You get high with Andrew Lohse, and all of a sudden he's on a 20-minute tangent about literature and liberal politics, and he's fascinating and exciting to be around, and makes you believe that you can do great things, because he wants to do great things. But one by one, I think a lot of his friends just gave up."

By homecoming weekend, Lohse had descended to the darkest place he'd ever known. "The harder I tried to believe in it all, the more I couldn't, until I just cracked," he says. "I might have drank myself to death there, I just hated it so much."

The Thursday night of homecoming is SAE's annual champagne formal, which Lohse attended, already drunk on red wine. He then proceeded to drink almost two bottles of champagne, followed by lots of bourbon and multiple beers. By 6 a.m., most of the SAE brothers had passed out, and Lohse and some of the pledges took off for breakfast.

In the story he tells of this incident, Lohse was walking across the college green, near a roped-off area where the annual homecoming bonfire would be held the next night. As he cut across the "restricted area," a campus security guard ordered the boys to leave. What followed was, depending on one's reading, a profound expression of drunken entitlement, or "an existential act of rebellion," as Lohse maintains. "I can walk wherever I want to walk," he told the guard. Then he picked up a plastic folding chair and tossed it in her direction.

Lohse was escorted to the college infirmary and given a Breathalyzer, which registered his blood-alcohol level at 0.24 – three times the legal limit. Arrested for disorderly conduct, he was handcuffed and taken to the county jail. Sitting on a bench, waiting for his mother, he considered what had become of the overachieving boy who followed his grandfather to the Ivy League. Whatever the true nature of the Dartmouth Man, he had consumed what remained of Andrew Lohse.

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