Photo: Armstrong White via flickr
Ever since Dartmouth frat boy Andrew Lohse published his editorial on the campus’ hazing culture, everyone has had one question on their mind: How bad is it?In case you missed Lohse’s account of his time at Sigma Alph Epsilon (SAE), here’s a part of what he wrote:
I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, faecal 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 beers poured down fellow pledges’ arse cracks; and vomit on other pledges, among other abuses.
Disgusting behaviour to be sure, but again, you have to ask… was it all that disgusting and pervasive (as Lohse implied later in his piece)?
Rolling Stone set out to answer that question in a long article called ‘Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses.’
We’ve broken down the most shocking parts for you here. Warning: Don’t read this over lunch.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon's (SAE) lawyer is defending the frat by comparing Lohse to the girl who falsely accused Duke lacrosse players of rape.
Zeta Psi, a house that was 'de-recognised' by the college for 10 years after it circulated a newsletter in which some of the brothers promised to reveal 'patented date-rape techniques.'
They're back on campus though now, and one of the brothers was interviewed by Rolling Stone for this piece.
'It's depressing coming of age here,' says Deanna Portero, a senior from New York... Today, a girl who wants to play pong at a frat party can do so only if she plays with a brother. Not to play is prudish; to be someone's pong partner, though, 'generally means you're going to hook up with him afterwards,' says Portero. 'And if you don't like it, 'F*ck you -- don't drink our beer.''
Dartmouth frat boys pride themselves on being able to drink six cups of beer in less than 30 seconds -- it's called a 'quick six,' and requires a person to literally open their gullet and pour the liquid down.
Puking and then continuing to drink -- the term is 'boot and rally' -- is an indelible part of Dartmouth social culture, heralded by successive classes of students. 'You're horrified at first, but then you get used to it,' says Lohse. 'There's a certain way of doing things at Dartmouth, and if you want to succeed, you just have to do it that way.'
The winner throws up on the loser.
'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.'
One fraternity reportedly beat their pledges; another was said to place them in dog crates while the brothers vomited on them. Another frat ordered its new members to crawl between the legs of a line of naked brothers, 'with, you know, their ball sacks flapping on their heads.' A fourth was rumoured to require its pledges to have sex with a frozen turkey.
Lohse was almost not let into his frat until brothers thought he was hooking up with 2 girls in one night.
Lohse only received a 'bid,' or offer to pledge the frat, after several brothers came to his defence, citing his popularity with women. A friend recalls walking into Lohse's room one night to find a girl in his bed, alone, while Lohse was in bed with another girl down the hall.
In 2009, a member of the Dartmouth faculty accused the fraternity of making pledges chug milk and vinegar until they threw up. According to Lohse and two other SAE alums, the brothers agreed to deny the charges, and discussed in detail how to respond when questioned by college officials.
Pledges would be required to perform endless 'quick sixes,' recite SAE's creed, 'The True Gentleman,' while lying in a kiddie pool full of ice...There were also 'milk meetings,' where pledges were asked to chug a gallon of milk in 20 minutes, which always resulted in plentiful booting. 'You get points for how many times you booted on other people,' says Lohse, who adds that the pledge trainers kept count while they sat on large throne-like chairs in a basement room. One brother recalls the night some of the pledges were served a scramble of vomit and eggs, known as a 'vomlet.'
'When you mix all that stuff together, it smells really gross,' the ex-brother says. 'And when you're in it, you don't know what it is. We let the pledges' imaginations get the best of them.' Lohse, for his part, hasn't backed down. 'I know this because I watched them make the batch for the 2011 term,' he says. 'We were told they needed a few more guys to piss and boot in it.'
One student tells me that during his pledge term, the brothers in his house set up a tarp in the fraternity basement, covered it in vomit, and made the pledges do a 'slip and slide.' He loved it. 'Everyone peed on it and threw in their chaw,' he says. 'I thought it was great. I did it 10 times. But I was getting kind of cut up, so the pledge trainer told me I really should stop so I wouldn't get too many infections.'