Pledges at one Dartmouth College fraternity spent many Wednesday nights chugging beer, cheap wine and vinegar until they threw up, former student Andrew Lohse writes in his new book, Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir.
Lohse first went public with his disturbing allegations of hazing by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity in January 2012. Now he's bringing more details to his account, even as his former college is undertaking a reform of campus culture. Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon has vowed to stamp out the "general disregard for human dignity, as exemplified by hazing."
Lohse's memoir starts with a horrible image: He recalls a SAE brother lying on a table in a windowless, underground room as a senior chugged beer until he was able to vomit -- or "boot" -- on the other student's genitalia. The other brothers drinking around them chanted, "Boot on his dick! Boot on his dick!"
In an advance copy of the book provided to The Huffington Post, Lohse makes other allegations of gross behavior:
- Fraternity brothers would allegedly pee into the punch being served at parties. "It's strange to imagine how many hundreds of people drank our urine," he writes. "Theoretically, it could even have been thousands."
Lohse is hardly the only one criticizing SAE, one of the country's largest fraternities. From 2005 through 2013, Bloomberg calculated, more people died due to events related to SAE than any other Greek organization -- although none of these deaths occurred at Dartmouth.
Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson noted that the fraternity was investigated and charged with violating Dartmouth's hazing policy in 2012. As a result, the SAE chapter served a three-term probation.
"Campus social life should be conducive to learning and personal growth," Anderson said, "and we regret that this was not the case for Mr. Lohse."
According to the book, Lohse formally reported his concerns about SAE hazing to the Dartmouth administration, presenting photos and describing as much as he could, in a November 2010 meeting. At the time, he was temporarily suspended from the college after pleading no contest or guilty to several charges related to his use of cocaine.
Hanover, New Hampshire, police eventually attempted a stakeout based on Lohse's information, but the police chief told the Dartmouth student newspaper that "what we observed did not reach the level of hazing" under state law.
After his year's suspension, Lohse returned to Dartmouth. He writes that a younger fraternity brother told him that the national SAE organization was asking the local chapter about hazing.
Brandon Weghorst, spokesman for the national SAE office, told HuffPost that in January 2011, a Dartmouth administrator had notified a local alumnus volunteer that "the school received a non-specific, anonymous complaint but did not elaborate on additional details."
"Subsequently, the regional president and the chapter's regional director met with the members to provide education and to reiterate our policies and guidelines," Weghorst said.
Lohse writes that he participated in hazing activities in fall 2011, giving a vitamin to one pledge he had helped to kidnap while telling him it was "drugs" and asking if he had a heart condition. Later that term, Lohse was arrested for being drunk and decided to leave Dartmouth indefinitely.
In January 2012, he went public with his hazing allegations in an op-ed in the student newspaper and then was interviewed for a Rolling Stone article that further fanned the flames.
At the time, Dartmouth administrators said they had taken every possible action prior to Lohse's going public, but that they were limited because he wanted to remain anonymous. Lohse would become a pariah on campus, often derided by staff and students alike.
SAE spokesman Weghorst said that was when the national office learned about Lohse's claims.
"Once we learned about the specific details Lohse described to media, we launched an investigation immediately, which is standard protocol because we investigate every allegation, incident or complaint that is brought to our attention," Weghorst said. "However, the investigation results could not validate Lohse's allegations or descriptions of what he says occurred."
Weghorst added, "We regret that, at no point, did he communicate those concerns or claims to us at the national headquarters," especially while Lohse was still a fraternity brother.
SAE's national organization decided earlier this year to eliminate entirely the weeks-long pledging of new members as a way to combat hazing. Instead, each chapter will simply extend bids to interested students.
The Dartmouth chapter is again in good standing with the college. Alexander Olesen, chapter president during the past academic year, told HuffPost that the house has had more students interested in pledging since 2012 than it had in each of the previous five.
Anderson, the Dartmouth spokesman, said a presidential steering committee will be presenting recommendations to the Ivy League school's trustees on ways to improve student life "across all areas where social activities take place, including fraternities, sororities and residence halls."
"Moreover, Dartmouth has initiated discussions with other universities and colleges to identify and implement best practices to rid our campus of all extreme behavior," Anderson said.