Three Cornell Fraternities Suspended For ‘Serious Hazing’

Cornell announced tonight that three fraternities have been placed on suspension following “credible allegations” of hazing. According to a university press release, Chi Psi is now on suspended status for “serious hazing,” and both Sigma Nu and Delta Phi (known as Llenroc) are on interim suspension for “serious physical hazing.” The release reads:

  • As of Feb. 28 the Chi Psi fraternity has been placed on suspended status by the national headquarters of the fraternity, as a result of credible allegations of serious hazing. All chapter activities must be approved by the national organization and Cornell’s Office of Fraternities, Sororities and Independent Living before they can proceed.
  • As of Feb. 28 the Sigma Nu fraternity has been placed by Cornell and the national headquarters of the fraternity on interim suspension status, as a result of credible allegations of serious physical hazing.
  • As of March 1 the Delta Phi (Llenroc) fraternity also has been placed by Cornell on interim suspension status, as a result of credible allegations of serious physical hazing.

The Cornell administration seems to be taking the “glass is half full” approach to the suspensions, stressing how lucky they are to have students who turned in these fraternities. Always look on the bright side guys.

Click through to see the full press release: Read the rest of this entry »

Columbia Inter-Greek Council Warns Greeks Not To Let Accused Hazers ‘Forcefully Extract Information’

Following the recommendation of Columbia’s Inter-Greek Council Judicial Board, the school’s Zeta Beta Tau chapter lost its charter this week due to a hazing infraction, The Columbia Spectator reports. Although it has not been revealed what exactly ZBT did to lose recognition, their national organization will be appealing Columbia’s decision.

A tipster forwarded us an email sent Thursday night by the IGC’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing cautioning the Greek community to remain tightlipped and alert in this time of “heavy scrutiny.” Perhaps more seriously, he foresees a Columbia where the newly outlawed ZBT brothers have become modern thugs, terrorizing campus and turning Greek against fellow Greek. We imagine something like The Warriors. Or maybe Mad Max.

Our tipster sums it up pretty nicely: “Stick together, because we’re a Greek family … but watch out, because ZBT might try to forcibly extract information from you.” You know, because they haze.

You can read the full email below: Read the rest of this entry »

Dartmouth SAE Tells Pledges to Quit Talking About All Their ‘Hazing’

It seems that some people never learn. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the Dartmouth fraternity that came to symbolize hazing last year, appears to be up to the same activities that brought them national attention. An email Tuesday from SAE’s president details a “mandatory event” for this semester’s pledges, telling them to meet at Dartmouth’s Bema — an outdoor amphitheater — with a note book, pen, and a change of “fratty clothes.” Also: “Do not draw attention to yourself.”

Secrecy is emphasized throughout the email, which even goes so far as to threaten removal from the fraternity if someone releases “house secrets.” There are allusions to former SAE brother Andrew Lohse, whose tell-all column in The Dartmouth last year detailing the house’s pledging rituals led to a feature article in Rolling Stone magazine that highlighted Dartmouth’s “hazing abuses.” As the email reads:

“This house values secrecy and we have seen how quickly things get out of control when we do not keep things in the house. You will likely lose your pledgeship if you are found to have revealed house secrets. Trust is a key component to a strong brotherhood.”

However, at some point Tuesday, information about SAE’s event was posted on Bored@Baker, an anonymous Dartmouth message board. A subsequent email from the president notes “Bored@Baker reads that hazing will occur at the BEMA tonight at 9pm.” Although he continually stresses the need for secrecy about the night’s activities, he never denies that hazing will take place. Read the rest of this entry »

Is It Really That Surprising There Was Such A Drop In Dartmouth Applications?

Dartmouth is not having the greatest year. They were they subjects of a none too flattering feature in Rolling Stone on their campus culture. Two students have written opinion pieces in The Dartmouth about being hazed (one has an upcoming book about it). Their Board of Directors was investigated for mishandling the school’s endowment. Oh, and their president left the school in the middle of all of this to head the World Bank.

In the first batch of application numbers released by Dartmouth since all this hoopla, the college saw a severe drop in the number of people who voluntarily want to be in Hanover. The Dartmouth reports that just 1,526 students applied early to be a part of the Dartmouth Class of 2017, down 12.5 percent from last year’s pool of 1,744.

12.5 percent is a serious drop, especially considering — as The Dartmouth points out — that early application numbers had been rising fairly steadily the past several years. And, although only two other Ivies have reported their early application numbers — Brown and Penn — both showed increases. While Andrew Lohse may be the most public case of Dartmouth’s bad reputation, he’s certainly not the only example.

“An elaborate experiment in collective insanity”: Andrew Lohse’s Unpublished Essay About Hazing at Dartmouth

The shadowy entity known as Goldman Snacks, previously responsible for publishing hazing whistleblower Andrew Lohse’s book proposal, has leaked a series of Lohse’s private emails, which we’re sifting through right now. (Know more? Get in touch.)

In the time being, here is a column Lohse wrote under the pseudonym “Phineas Ridley.” It was never published.


By: Phineas Ridley ’12

[Column removed at request of Andrew Lohse.]

Institutional Ethics: Dartmouth’s (Not-So-Secret) Hazing Problem

A few nights ago, as I was waiting out the worst of Hurricane Sandy’s temper in the relative safety of my dorm room, I thought about my family—specifically my younger brother, who’s currently living and working in the Big Apple.

As I ruminated on the chances of his survival in his Midtown apartment (my fears weren’t allayed at all by Twitter’s grim prognostications), I had two important realizations: First, that he had—thankfully—made a pilgrimage to Dartmouth (where he’s a student) for Homecoming weekend; second, that he had probably weathered storms much worse than Sandy when he was hazed as a fraternity pledge.

Dartmouth is notorious among the Ivies for its pervasive Greek-letter culture. According to U.S. News & World Report, approximately 60% of the undergraduate population is affiliated with one of 26 fraternities or sororities. (Not-so-surprisingly, the fratty majority of the student body has a specific term for the unaffiliated that reflects the contempt they feel: GDI.)

As one might expect from a school with such a pervasive fraternity system, hazing is part of life at Dartmouth to an insane degree—it’s institutional, it’s expected, and absolutely everybody does it. It’s also been in the news: Andrew Lohse is currently America’s most famous frat brother for the dramatic reveal of his fraternity’s hazing and his own role in perpetuating it.

Hazing, as defined by the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention, is

“any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”

I’ve asked my brother on occasion what he thinks of frat life in general—I, for my own part, chose to remain unaffiliated and curious—and the answers I get from him are uniformly positive. It seems to me that the fraternity life suits him (it has certainly increased his already-impressive ability to chug), and that he’s done well for himself in the organization.

That said: he’s never spoken to me about his experience of being hazed, even when I’ve pressed him for details.

And therein, I think, lies the real ethical issue. There’s not much doubt that fraternity life can enrich its members, but the process involved in gaining admission is particularly despicable. (Not to mention the contempt that its exclusivity engenders.) Should the fraternity system be maintained if it necessarily involves—and even congratulates—harming undergraduates?

To put it simply: it’s complicated.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rolling Stone: Andrew Lohse Fabricated Anecdote for Book Proposal

After Rolling Stone contributor Janet Reitman profiled Andrew Lohse in March, the former SAE brother landed a book contract with St. Martin’s Press—an extension of his effort to “tell the truth” about Dartmouth’s insane hazing culture. And good for him! However, in Lohse’s book proposal, he seems to have lied about the provenance of Reitman’s Rolling Stone article. Here’s what his proposal says:

A few weeks into the media blitz over “Telling The Truth” I received a call from Janet Reitman, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. Janet related to me that a former writer for the magazine-who had become an English professor at Dartmouth-had alerted Rolling Stone’s editor-in-chief about the potential of the hazing story, and that the editor had given Janet the assignment.

That’s not how it happened, according to Reitman, who sent this email to “Goldman Snacks” after the group published Lohse’s proposal:

Subject: this statement is untrue

Hey – so this didn’t actually happen – “Janet related to me that a former writer for the magazine-who had become an English professor at Dartmouth-had alerted Rolling Stone’s editor-in-chief about the [writer] of the hazing story, and that the editor had given Janet the assignment.” Not so. My editor, Sean Woods, read about the hazing scandal on Gawker and then called me with the assignment. RS managing editor Will Dana had no discussion about this with anyone – nor did Jann Wenner, the editor-in-chief. No one from Dartmouth faculty was contacted w/r/t to this story as far as I know. It was a Gawker item – a good one – and we went with it. End of story. Please correct. Thanks.

Janet Reitman
Contributing Editor Rolling Stone

(Reitman has confirmed the email is real.)

As the author of a truth-telling hazing exposé—one which many are predisposed to question—it’s unclear why Lohse would lie about something so mundane.

Dartmouth Whistleblower Andrew Lohse Has A Book Deal That Promises “Sex, Drugs, Alcohol”

Andrew Lohse, the recent Dartmouth graduate who gained attention for detailing his fraternity hazing experiences, has always been open about himself. There was the column in The Dartmouth earlier this year that described his time as a pledge in Dartmouth’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Then there was the article in Rolling Stone a few months later. Now, it seems that Lohse finally got that book deal he wanted so badly.

According to Dartblog, both Lohse’s Twitter and LinkedIn account have been recently changed to include information about his upcoming book with St. Martin’s Press, which is, like, real. (Dartblog calls it “a reputable imprint,” but we’re just surprised someone will publish this thing). The book is titled Party at the End of the World and is due out sometime in 2013.

After first mentioning his literary aspirations in January, Lohse discussed his memoir-in-progress with Janet Reitman for her Rolling Stone piece on him and Dartmouth:

“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.’” Read the rest of this entry »

After Former Pledges Acquitted, Cornell SAE Found Guilty of Hazing in George Desdunes’ Death

After ruling three former Cornell Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledges not guilty in the death of Cornell student and SAE brother George Desdunes, a Tompkins County Court judge found Cornell’s SAE chapter guilty of hazing in Desdunes’ death, The Ithaca Journal reports. While the three former pledges were acquitted, the judge used details from their trial in the decision to find SAE guilty, as the fraternity chose to “disregard or ignore the proceedings in Criminal Court.”

Details from the trial seem to describe the fraternity as … well, a fraternity. According to The Journal:

“Witnesses testified about a beer pong tournament held at 122 McGraw Place the night that Desdunes died, and described a house where alcohol was readily available to pledges and members regardless of age. In her decision, Rossiter wrote that ritual line-ups at the fraternity constituted hazing under New York law. During the weekly line-ups fraternity members subjected assembled pledges to taunts, punishments and directives.”

However, what could have been the most damning piece against the fraternity is this: “Witnesses testified that at a line-up two days before Desdunes died, fraternity members berated pledges for not conducting more of the ritualistic mock-kidnappings that were a fraternity tradition.” Unfortunately, they seemed to have listened. Read the rest of this entry »

BREAKING: Cornell SAE Pledges Acquitted In George Desdunes’s Death

Close to a year and a half after the hazing related death of George Desdunes, the Cornell student and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brother, a Tompkins County Court judge acquitted all three former SAE pledges of all charges Tuesday afternoon, The Ithaca Journal reports. Desdunes had been found unresponsive on a couch in the SAE house in February 2011, following a kidnapping ritual in which he was tied up and fed alcohol by pledges in the fraternity.

According to The Journal,

“Max Haskin, Ben Mann and Edward “EJ” Williams — the three former Cornell freshmen and pledges to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity — were cleared of all criminal wrongdoing in a case that put a spotlight on binge drinking in college fraternity culture.”

Haskin, Mann, and Williams are no longer enrolled at Cornell.

The defense’s successful argument seems to have relied on depicting Desdunes as someone who routinely consumed large amounts of alcohol. “Fraternity members brought to the stand testified that Desdunes was known to be a heavy drinker, with defense attorneys trying to establish that he had been voluntarily consuming large amounts of liquor for hours prior to his encounter with the pledges,” according to The Journal.

SAE was also a defendant on hazing charges. However, according to The Journal, their verdict has not yet been announced. SAE and 20 members of the fraternity were also named in a $25 million wrongful death civil lawsuit by Desdunes’ mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, which has yet to be resolved.