Like just about any college campus, the partying will likely continue at Dartmouth. But for the next three semesters, parties involving alcohol will not happen at the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The college's judicial panel recently found Sigma Alpha Epsilon guilty of hazing pledges in 2009, charges that include forced drinking and swimming in kiddie pools filled with food.
"What we are trying to do here is not to drive the behavior further underground, but we are trying to prevent serious injury or death," said Charlotte Johnson, dean of the college.
The controversy was written up in an explosive article in Rolling Stone magazine. It featured a student, Andrew Lohse, who first brought allegations of hazing public in an editorial to the school newspaper. Dartmouth has been investigating and a committee of faculty, staff and students handed down the punishment, which includes probation and a variety of educations measures, like creating an alcohol-management plan.
"Dartmouth is doing this with hazing the same way it has done it with sexual assault and binge drinking," Johnson said.
But some on campus do not think the punishment goes far enough.
"I think if SAE were to be derecognized, it would send a much strong message to other fraternities and sororities," said Karenina Rojas, a junior.
Rojas wants to see structural changes to campus Greek life.
"Such as open membership to all Greek societies, things like making all Greek houses co-ed," she said.
Others on this campus-- which is usually in the spotlight for its excellence-- have a different take.
"It is a fine line to walk between having the students' best interests and covering themselves when they are in the national spotlight," said Adam Schwartzman, a junior.
Schwartzman says the students involved no longer go to Dartmouth.
"I think it is regrettable that the students who are paying this price and being on probation are people who had nothing to do with it," Schwartzman said.
And then there's Andrew Lohse. In a lengthy written statement Wednesday, Lohse said, "The trifling sanctions against SAE barely register as slap on the wrist." He went on to say, "It's really too bad, and, sadly, it will probably take a high-profile hazing death for there to be any real change."
"It is a top priority for us," Johnson said. "And people should not mistake Dartmouth for a place that does not care wholeheartedly about the well-being of its students."
Johnson says that the most egregious claims of hazing by Lohse-- which included direct contact with bodily fluids-- were unfounded. The school cleared all 27 fraternity members of personal involvement.
"I know there are people out there who are saying probation, what is that? Or who think it doesn't go far enough. But I trust the process," Johnson said.
If SAE does not meet its requirements with the college, the fraternity could be subject to suspension or de-recognition.
We reached out to members of SAE for comment on this story, who said "information out there is fairly accurate now and the fraternity has no further comment."
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