Those first few months away at college can be isolating. You are removed from the watchful eyes of your parents in a city that may be far from home and, for the most part, you are surrounded by strangers.
It’s not surprising that many students decide to join fraternities and sororities. It’s natural to seek a way to incorporate more friendly faces into your day, a system of support, someone with which you can share a meal or attend a party. Sure, they could slowly create their own group of friends, but for many college kids there is something appealing about being welcomed into a ready-made social circle.
Perhaps that is what former fraternity member, Andrew Lohse, was seeking when he pledged a chapter at Dartmouth College. Lohse has since severed ties with the organization and, in a stomach-churning editorial in the college’s newspaper, The Darmouth, alleges that he and his fellow pledges were subjected to hazing including swimming in a kiddie pool of bodily fluids, chugging cups of vinegar, and eating things that are at best described as unsavory and at worst cause dry heaving upon description.
To date, Lohse’s claims are unsubstantiated and officials say they investigated the claims and found no evidence that the hazing occurred. Never mind that their investigation included staking out a location on campus where they were told hazing would occur on one occasion and simply interviewing the president of Lohse’s chapter who, shockingly, denied the allegations; the real cause for concern is that the college claims they cannot adequately investigate a complaint when the victim asks to remain anonymous.
“It is most beneficial for us in these situations for a student to be willing to speak on the record, speak as a witness, identify individuals and provide evidence on that basis. [Lohse] was not willing to do that,” said Dartmouth Chief of Staff, David Spalding.
It is unclear to me why a victim would need to put themselves at further risk of retaliation in order for a thorough investigation to be conducted, but it does cause one to question whether this policy is applied across the board. For instance, would a victim of sexual assault be expected to publicly identify themselves in order for their attacker to be sought and prosecuted or is this a special circumstance in which Dartmouth was hoping to sweep the nefarious nature of Greek life on campus under the rug?
Upon reading the repulsive details of what Lohse claims he and other were subjected to, one might ask the question ‘Why?’ Why would any person possessing freewill subject themselves or others to the type of disgusting acts Lohse describes? The answer is simple and hard to believe, but the power of peer pressure and the group mentality is immeasurable. I know firsthand as a former member of a sorority, the threat of being ousted from the organization can be terrifying.
Unfortunately, the events that this young man describes are not that uncommon. Incidents of hazing among our youth are rampant and not necessarily exclusive to Greek organizations. Reports like this one combined with my own negative experience as a member of a sorority will cause me to caution my own children against joining a fraternity of sorority if they choose to attend college in the future. Any organization which bonds it’s members together through exclusivity is not one I would prefer my children to participate in.
That being said, I recognize that once children leave home there is little that can be done to control the choices they make and where and with whom they spend their time. I will not, however, be lending financial support to them in the way of paying their dues.
How do you feel about Greek organizations? Would you support your child’s decision to join a sorority or fraternity?
Photo credit: Stock.xchng