Students seek to reapply King legacy

A group of students gathered to discuss the modern relevance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s messages, especially in light of the Occupy movement.

Strong connections can be made between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s and today’s Occupy movement, according to a panel in Collis Common Ground on Tuesday night. The panel, “I Have a Dream for Dartmouth,” addressed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s spiritual, social and economic ideology and how it is perceived today.

The panel part of the College’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day discussed whether our present day understanding of King’s message lines up with his actual beliefs and whether his and his supporters’ work toward economic justice can be linked to the Occupy movement.

Fifteen people attended the lecture, including the three speakers, assistant chaplain Kurt Nelson, sociology professor Marc Dixon and Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies professor Julia Rabig. The panel did not use the stage or microphones and instead formed an intimate discussion circle with the audience due to the small number of attendees.

Palaeopitus member Kip Dooley ’12 introduced the panel and set the tone for the discussion by highlighting the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas were much more complex than many people believe.

“Martin Luther King’s ideas had a lot more to them than just ending segregation,” Dooley said. “The goal is to reexamine King’s legacy: Who was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?”

Dooley is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.

Nelson, who was asked to discuss the King’s spirituality, pointed out that modern society’s conceptions of him largely boil down to 34 words of his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

“Our ideas about Martin Luther King are all out of a short section of the I Have a Dream’ speech,” Nelson said. “We face the problem of the Santa Clausification of Martin Luther King people turn him into a platitude.”

Nelson said that after 1965, King not only battled racism, but also militarism and materialism, which speaks powerfully to the present day.

“I certainly see the spirit of King and the liberation movement very much alive today,” Nelson said. “We are fighting materialism with the Occupy movement, and we are fighting racism.”

Dixon said King and the civil rights movement might help people make sense of current movements.

“There are direct comparisons we can draw to the Occupy movements today,” Dixon said. “Thirty to 40 percent of protests were directed against businesses in the early 1960s of the civil rights movement it was the bread and butter of civil rights activism.”

Dixon said that the civil rights movement can also be linked to economic movements today through minority group involvement.

“Researchers have found that African-American groups remain frequent sponsors of protests against corporations revolving around economic as well as racial justice claims,” Dixon said. “Racial justice was necessarily intertwined with economic justice given the plight of African-Americans during King’s time.”

The connection between racial and economic movements pushed activists to use the momentum of the civil rights movement to spearhead economic justice, according to Dixon.

“At the end of King’s life, there was a movement to use the power of the civil rights movement of the ’60s to work on economic inequality,” Dixon said. “Economic and racial coalitions began to form within multiple campaigns in the late ’60s, early ’70s.”

Rabig agreed that King has been largely “de-radicalized” today and attempted to draw further connections between the surprisingly economically driven civil rights movement and Occupy.

“Civil rights are deeply intertwined with movements for economic equality,” Rabig said. “[King] became more deeply involved with economic justice in the late 1960s, especially with his involvement regarding inadequate housing for blacks.”

Rabig said many of King’s economic beliefs were not publicized due to fears that he would be accused of communism.

“King’s every word was under the scrutiny of the FBI for a connection to communism,” Rabig said. “However, King was attempting to make headway on economic justice before his death.”

Rabig said connections are now being made between the economic movements that sprouted after King’s death and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Rabig said that the media similarly covered both the Poor People’s Campaign after King’s death and the Occupy movement.

“The media often provided coverage that was sympathetic but reduced its complexities and helped to marginalize it,” Rabig said of the Poor People’s Campaign. “This is similar to the Occupy movement and the way it has sort of been maligned in the press.”

Although the speakers all acknowledged obvious differences between the civil rights movement and Occupy such as the lack of a central figurehead like King they all said they believe there is value in the comparison.

“I think the Occupy movement is struggling with racism,” Rabig said. “You see a lot of debates unfolding that were also happening in the civil rights movement.”

After opening up the floor for discussion, the speakers concluded by offering their own opinions on the future of the Occupy movement and its success.

“I think Occupy has already won because there has been a labor movement out there for the past 30 years talking about the top 1 percent, but Occupy alone has been able to put all this attention on inequality so quickly,” Dixon said. “This is remarkable.”

Nelson hopes that Occupy can expand its influence to empower other movements.

“The Occupy movement has the potential to reenergize movements that are already happening Occupy loves itself a little too much right now,” Nelson said. “I think the way forward is for Occupy to realize that there are activist groups speaking to minority needs out there, and hopefully Occupy can force the way ahead and help them.”

Rabig concluded by connecting the lasting impact of King’s activism on campaigns today.

“I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but I think looking at the local effects of this national movement can give us some insight into the continuity of King’s legacy,” Rabig said.

The panel was sponsored by the Palaeopitus Senior Society.

Five fraternities extend bids during winter rush

Five campus fraternities extended bids during winter recruitment, which ended Monday night, according to Hunter Dray ’12, Inter-Fraternity Council rush chair.

Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity saw one man sink a bid; Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity, five; Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, seven; and Sigma Nu fraternity, two, according to Dray. At Zeta Psi fraternity, five men sunk bids, according to Zete president Travis Cramer ’12.

The total number of men who participated in rush was not available by press time, according to Dray.

“This outcome is definitely similar to those of past winters,” Dray said. “Fraternity winter rush has traditionally been light on volume, with the vast majority of rushees putting down roots in the fall.”

Representatives from houses that participated in rush said they did not expect large numbers of men to join during winter recruitment.

“We were not looking to add many new members,” Alpha Chi president Eric Sussman ’12 said. “Our winter rush is mainly used to allow sophomores who were off in the fall to get a chance to rush our house.”

Despite recent re-recognition, Zete did not see any change in winter rush numbers from past years, according to Cramer.

Although most students participate in rush during the Fall term, some opt for winter recruitment after a fall off-term, dissatisfaction with fall rush results or concentration on a fall sport, according to Dray.

The majority of houses chose not to host winter rush this year due to the influx of new members last term, according to representatives interviewed by The Dartmouth.

Alpha Delta fraternity, Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, Bones Gate fraternity, Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, Chi Heorot fraternity, Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, Phi Delta Alpha fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Psi Upsilon fraternity and Theta Delta Chi fraternity did not offer any bids to new members.

“In the past, it was rare to see fall pledge classes much over 30, but this past fall saw numerous houses breaking this number,” Dray said. “Some houses are just at what they perceive to be their maximum capacity.”

SAE president Brendan Mahoney ’12 echoed this sentiment, citing the number of fall recruits and lack of interest among potential new members.

“Typically, we do not hold winter rush,” Heorot president Cole Sulser ’12 said. “The largest reason is the difficulty in organizing a pledge term. Generally, winter rush is much smaller and, thus, the pledge classes are smaller as well. Due to this, winter rush usually does not provide the rushees with the same benefits or the same ability to become familiar with their fellow brothers.”

Smaller groups of rushees in the winter enable houses to be more selective and focus on creating a well-rounded pledge class rather than taking in a large group of new members, according to Dray.

While Chi Gam did not participate in a formal rush process, several individuals expressed serious interest in joining the house to brothers directly, according to Chi Gam president Sean Schultz ’12. The fraternity deliberated on Sunday night but has not accepted new members at this time, he said,

“Our ’14 class is strong by numbers and quality and can stand on its own as is,” said Schultz. “For our informal winter rush process, we are seeking kids that will add tangible substance to the class, no fluff.”

Schultz is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.

The number of men participating in winter rush tends to be smaller than that of their female counterparts, according to Dray.

During sorority winter recruitment, which concluded last week, sororities extended over 70 bids to new members.

Alpha Theta, Phi Tau and the Tabard co-ed fraternities are also undergoing the winter rush process.

After hosting rush on Friday, Phi Tau extended one bid, which remains valid any time until the time of graduation, according to Phi Tau president Leah Nicolich-Henkin ’12. The organization’s current pledge class also includes individuals who were offered bids during previous terms.

“So far we have four pledges, and we think we may get one or two more in the next week or so,” Nicolich-Henkin said. “This is a somewhat small pledge class for Winter term for us, but we had a very large pledge class in the fall, so we’re very happy with our overall numbers at the moment.”

Phi Tau employs a “rolling” rush process, allowing students to rush the house at any point during the term. Those who receive bids can also sink their bids at any time, she said.

Representatives from other co-ed fraternities did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Kramer discusses LGBT activism

Award-winning author and playwright Larry Kramer has made a name for himself with his confrontational style in advocating for the public to address the American HIV/AIDS crisis, directing his anger at both the gay community and political leaders. Kramer, who is in residence in the College this week as a Montgomery Fellow, spoke about his career, including his establishment of the direct action protest group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, yesterday in Filene Auditorium.

Kramer is most renowned for his leading role in forming both the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which advocated for health services for HIV/AIDS victims, and ACT UP, which launched provocative protests aimed at building the political will to fight HIV/AIDS, according to women and gender studies professor Michael Bronski, who moderated the discussion.

Kramer talked about his anger at the apathy of political officials, the National Institute of Health, pharmaceutical companies and the gay community toward the HIV/AIDS crisis, which led to his vocal efforts to change the status quo. Kramer’s novel, “Faggots,” sparked an uproar from both the gay community and society at large for portraying the New York gay population as sexually promiscuous, he said. This negative reaction from the public prepared him for a future in which his views would receive little support in mainstream American culture, Kramer said.

“It helped me to be an activist,” Kramer said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “I realized that I had to surmount what people were saying about my beliefs.”

In response to a growing incidence of illness among his friends in New York, Kramer started the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in an effort to provide medical services for men infected with HIV/AIDS.

“Just picture everyone you know dying, because that’s what it was like,” Kramer said. “You couldn’t walk down the street in the Village without somebody stopping you and saying, Did you hear that so-and-so died?'”

He said, however, that he lamented how GMHC’s backbone nurses, doctors and churchgoers had little desire for activism and merely wanted to aid the sick.

As leader of the GMHC, Kramer leveled his criticism at both the gay community, for what he saw as its complacency, and at New York’s mayor, Ed Koch, for his neglect of HIV/AIDS. Realizing the need for more direct confrontation in order to garner attention about the urgency of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Kramer founded the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), which he deliberately designed to be non-hierarchical.

“I was angry that [GMHC] became so structured,” Kramer said. “I made one conscious decision for ACT UP to be as free-form as possible to absorb whatever ideas people wanted to bring.”

Once a week, roughly 500 people would gather to discuss activism plans, make decisions and figure out how to implement the ideas. One protest involved ACT UP disrupting church services at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1989, motivated by what Kramer and others saw as the Catholic Church’s hostility toward the gay community.

Members of ACT UP, doubtful that either political leaders or the public would pay serious attention to their cause, took the initiative to do their own research on drug policy, according to Kramer.

“Every treatment out there for AIDS is out there because of activists,” Kramer said.

ACT UP’s combative tactics grew out of activists’ recognition that mainstream America refused to come to grips with the reality of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Bronski said.

“Larry’s message is that working within the system doesn’t get you anything,” Bronski said. “At that point in history, people simply did not want to listen.”

Despite the success of ACT UP in advancing access to drug treatment, Kramer lamented that too few members of the gay community were a part of such an activism campaign.

“When things were at their worst, there were not more than 10,000 people in ACT UP actually fighting,” Kramer said. “One criticism I have against the gay community is that considering how many of us there are, there were so few of us participating in taking responsibility in terms of looking after one another.”

Kramer’s autobiographical account consisting of his activism writings, “Reports from the Holocaust: The Story of an AIDS Activist,” reflects his attempt to go beyond the theoretical realm of activism and set an example for others, according to Bronski.

“He’s saying, This happened to me, this could happen to you and I’m an example,'” Bronski said.

Bronski said that Kramer’s message to students, delivered through his classroom visits and lecture, is that they are obliged to fight inequalities before their eyes.

“Larry’s message to students is, If you see an injustice, you have an ethical obligation to fight it,'” Bronski said.

Richard Stamelman, the executive director of the Montgomery Fellowship program, said the widespread neglect of the HIV/AIDS crisis left Kramer little choice but to take a confrontational approach in addressing the issue.

“He felt the only way to get attention and to get people to start listening to him and others who were talking about the epidemic was to be as belligerent as possible,” Stamelman said. “He was willing to accept all those enemies because he realized that what was about to happen was going to be catastrophic.”

The Montgomery Fellowship differs from a typical campus lecture in that the fellows are specifically brought to campus to interact with undergraduate students through both class visits and lunch discussions, Stamelman said.

Student accuses frat of hazing violations

Andrew Lohse '12 has accused the College of taking inadequate action in response to his allegations of hazing at his former fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Administrators failed to adequately respond to November 2010 allegations of “dehumanizing” hazing at a campus fraternity, Andrew Lohse ’12, the student who made the allegations, said in a statement to The Dartmouth. College administrators, however, said Lohse’s failure to provide adequate evidence and speak on the record about the hazing at Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity limited their actions to contacting the national organization and alerting the Hanover Police Department of possible “Hell Night” activities during the 2010 Fall term.

Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life April Thompson said the administration took every possible action when Lohse presented the allegations a year and a half ago, but could not do more given Lohse’s insistence that his complaint remain anonymous.

Lohse first spoke to Thompson directly about hazing in November 2010, a year after his own pledge term, Thompson said, though they spoke “informally” before that time. Lohse requested anonymity and did not provide physical evidence, Thompson said.

“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, fecal 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’ ass cracks; and vomit on other pledges, among other abuses,” Lohse told The Dartmouth.

The allegations originally presented to administrators were similar to those detailed in Lohse’s statement to The Dartmouth, Chief of Staff David Spalding said. Spalding said he did not recall seeing photographic evidence of hazing in a November 2010 meeting with Lohse and that Lohse did not present him with videos of alleged hazing incidents.

“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,” Spalding said. “[Lohse] was not willing to do that.”

Administrators also discussed plans for “Hell Night,” the culminating event of pledge term, with the then-president of SAE to ensure that the event would not violate the College’s hazing policy, Spalding said.

Hanover Police received information from the Dean of the College’s Office that hazing might take place near Bartlett Tower and the Bema on Dec. 1, 2010, and “staked out the area” on the night in question, Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

“One of the officers had night vision equipment, and we did follow and see people leaving from SAE, and they were found in the Bema area,” Giaccone said. “What we observed did not reach the level of hazing.”

Officers stopped and questioned a group of SAE pledges but found no evidence of hazing, Giaccone said.

Hanover Police also inspected SAE’s physical plant and interviewed its president that night, determining the tip they received was false, SAE president Brendan Mahoney ’12 said.

Lohse, however, said he felt the College’s response to his allegations was inadequate.

“They have yet to take decisive action to diagnose and cure the abuse that plagues Dartmouth,” Lohse said.

Claims in Lohse’s statement that suggest inactivity on the part of the College are “completely false,” Mahoney said.

Under New Hampshire state law, “student hazing” is defined as “any act directed toward a student, or any coercion or intimidation of a student to act or participate in an act when 1) such act is likely or would be perceived by a reasonable person as likely to cause physical or psychological injury to any person; and 2) such act is a condition of initiation into, admission into, continued membership in or association with any organization,” according to the College’s Student Handbook.

The College defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created involving prospective or new members of a group or as a condition of continued membership in a group (fraternity, sorority, team, club or other organization), which would be perceived by a reasonable person as likely to produce mental or physical discomfort, harm, stress, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule,” according to the handbook.

As such, the College maintains a lower threshold for hazing than state law, Giaccone said.

The College has a legal obligation to report hazing to the state, as it is a violation of New Hampshire law, Thompson said.

Since the investigation into the December 2010 “Hell Night,” “there have been other reports of hazing in the Greek system in general from the College, and we have looked into them,” Giaccone said. None of these complaints, however, have spurred investigations of the same extent, he said.

Lohse sent an email to Mahoney indicating his intent to de-pledge SAE on Jan. 20, Mahoney said. Following the exchange, Lohse ceased to be a member of the fraternity, according to Mahoney. Lohse gave no reason for his resignation of membership, Mahoney said.

“We give [our new members] the resources to report any hazing violations,” Mahoney said. “We would never put someone’s membership in question for reporting violations.”

Mahoney also said he had not personally experienced any of the hazing practices described in Lohse’s statement.

A preliminary draft of Lohse’s opinion column, published today in The Dartmouth, was in the process of being fact-checked by The Dartmouth when it was posted on the Dartblog website, an alumni-operated blog independent of the College, on Tuesday. The column posted was not the version Lohse intended to publish in The Dartmouth, according to Lohse.

During the 2011 Summer term, Lohse stated his approval of the response to his allegations in an email to Thompson.

“I think the hazing question at SAE has been answered word got backchanneled through National that what was happening had to stop, scaring everyone, and now giving me and others who didn’t like hazing a big amount of leverage from the inside with which to end the practices once and for all,” Lohse said in the July 11, 2011 email.

In an Oct. 6, 2011 opinion column in The Dartmouth, Lohse cautioned readers against “thinking that Greek life will alter you deeply.” He urged students considering entering the Greek system to “remember that your brothers or sisters, and friends regardless of affiliation, will be there for you without fail.”

When Lohse originally brought his hazing complaint to the administration, he was not an enrolled student at the College, according to Spalding. His enrollment status, however, did not affect the administration’s treatment of the issue, he said.

Spalding and Thompson said they could not comment on Lohse’s current standing with the College.

Lohse pled no contest to charges of cocaine possession and witness tampering and guilty to a charge of unlawful possession and intoxication on July 14, 2010. The no contest plea legally states that a defendant will neither challenge nor claim guilt for a charge.

The incident occurred after another member of SAE reported seeing Lohse and several other students using cocaine at the fraternity’s physical plant. Lohse allegedly spat on the witness and poured out a beer on the door of his room following the initial incident.

Daily Debriefing

In a recent study regarding the relationship between racial discrimination and risky sexual behavior, psychological and brain sciences professor Megan Roberts found that racism adversely affects African-American adolescent sexual behavior, according to The Good Therapy Blog, a blog focused on therapy and clinical psychology. Her study revealed that racial discrimination can have negative emotional impacts, such as depression and anxiety, on those exposed to racism. Roberts examined 745 African-American 10-year-olds and re-observed them at ages 15 and 18, according to The Good Therapy Blog. She found that 90 percent of these teenagers were exposed to racism and were therefore more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, The Good Therapy Blog reported. Roberts’ study concluded that “attentive parenting” reduced the discrimination and thus the likelihood of contracting sexual transmitted diseases, according to the blog.

A study of medical records conducted by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine showed that women say they feel pain more intensely than men do, The Stanford Daily reported. The study, published on Jan. 23 in the Journal of Pain, used the Stanford Translational Research Integrated Database Environment, according to The Stanford Daily. Researchers found that the most profound difference in pain recorded in the category of musculoskeletal and connective tissue-related pain. The researchers also said that several assumptions from the study merited further consideration, including how patients could address pain before arriving at the hospital, if patients act differently depending on who is in the room, and if women feel more pain versus report more pain, according to The Stanford Daily. Jeffery Mogil, a pain expert at McGill University in Montreal, told The Stanford Daily that this study was important because of its sheer size.

Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., announced a set of reforms to help Massachusetts community colleges provide residents looking for work with the skills they need to help fill the estimated 120,000 current job openings in the state in his annual State of Commonwealth address, according to a press release. The proposal will unite the state’s 15 community college campuses to create a job and skills training program specific to Massachusetts as well as a streamlined curriculum. The proposal, which will include a $10-million increase in funding, aims to decrease unemployment in Boston, the release said. Under this proposal, the Board of Higher Education will be able to redirect all state funding to community colleges and will be responsible for establishing new guidelines for student fees at the colleges, according to the release.

Pedde: The Importance of Good Teachers

It is no secret that good teachers can make a world of difference in their students’ lives. Most people presumably would like to make sure that disadvantaged students have access to these good teachers. As a result, figuring out how to sort the good teachers from the bad has become an important public policy question.

One common measure of a schoolteacher’s effectiveness is known as “value-added.” This metric essentially measures the average test-score gain for a teacher’s students over the course of one year, accounting for differences such as students’ starting scores. However, many people (as well as teachers’ unions) have argued against using test score-based metrics to measure a schoolteacher’s performance. After all, teachers who raise students’ test scores could be merely teaching to the test and not providing any life-long benefits for their students. Thus, the present system whereby decisions pertaining to a school’s faculty are made primarily based upon educational attainment and seniority should be left as is.

Recent academic research throws cold water on this argument. Last month, three economists Raj Chetty and John Friedman of Harvard University and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia University published a paper entitled “The Long Term Impacts of Teachers.” This paper made use of a data set of 2.5 million students in grades three to eight from a “large urban school district” over 20 years.

Contrary to the teachers’ unions’ claims, higher value-added teachers have a significant impact on their students’ adult lives. Students who have higher value-added teachers are less likely to have children as teenagers, are more likely to attend college, earn higher incomes, live in higher-quality neighborhoods as adults and save more for their own retirement.

As an example, consider the effects of a teacher’s value-added on their students’ future earnings. A one standard-deviation improvement in a teacher’s value-added for a single grade will increase each of their students’ lifetime earnings by an average of $25,000. Furthermore, replacing the bottom 5 percent of teachers (as measured by three years of value-added data) with average teachers would result in a gain of $190,000 per teacher per year, based on the present value of their students’ increased future earnings.

Obviously, students from lower-income backgrounds are at a disadvantage relative to other students. Nonetheless, the study shows that higher value-added teachers can make a difference even for disadvantaged students.

Furthermore, a 2006 paper “What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?” by Dartmouth economics professor Douglas Staiger, Rockoff and Harvard’s Thomas Kane shows that a teacher’s educational attainment is, at best, an extremely poor predictor of that teacher’s effectiveness. The authors find that “classroom performance during the first two years, rather than certification status, is a more reliable indicator of a teacher’s future effectiveness.”

Obviously, test scores should not be the only measure schools use to evaluate teachers other research has shown student feedback and outside evaluations of a teacher’s classroom performance can also be useful measures of teacher quality. Furthermore, there are many other unsettled questions regarding education policies that have little to do with testing: how schools should be funded, the proper role of the federal government in education and so on.

Regardless of how one answers these questions, two things are abundantly clear: First, the persons responsible for hiring and firing a school’s faculty should be given the authority to relieve a teacher on the basis of poor value-added results. Second, information about a teacher’s previous value-added results should be made available to other schools that are considering hiring that teacher. The status quo, whereby decisions regarding faculty employment are made primarily on the basis of educational certification and seniority, is unacceptable and needs to change.

Lohse: Telling the Truth

We attend a strange school where a systemic culture of abuse exists under a college president who has the power and experience to change what can only be described as a public health crisis of the utmost importance: the endemic culture of physical and psychological abuse that occupies the heart of Dartmouth’s Greek community. President Jim Yong Kim’s sterling credentials in public health are fundamentally at odds with the pervasive hazing, substance abuse and sexual assault culture that dominates campus social life.

I understand these problems because I myself have endured them. If I were to fully enumerate all of the dehumanizing experiences my friends and I have survived here experiences that were ironically advertised to us as indispensable elements of the “Dartmouth Experience” I would have too few words left in this column to adequately explain how the Kim administration has not done enough to address these crises. They have yet to take decisive action to diagnose and cure the abuse that plagues Dartmouth.

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, fecal 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’ ass cracks; and vomit on other pledges, among other abuses. Certainly, pledges could have refused these orders. However, under extreme peer pressure and the desire to “be a brother,” most acquiesced. While not every pledge is asked to do these things, many are. The specific tasks vary year to year, but these are things I’ve witnessed as a member of the fraternity.

As a pledge, I ceased to be a human being; instead, I became “whale shit.” In the process, I, my fellow pledges and all pledges since, have been implicitly encouraged to treat Dartmouth women with about the same respect with which we treated each other in our social spaces: none. Fraternity life is at the core of the College’s human and cultural dysfunctions.

I have also talked with fellow brothers who have privately expressed dismay and sometimes emotional or psychological pain about their experiences but have been unable to break the cycle of abuse they had been so tortured by; they participate in the rituals year to year. It is a cycle that, as I myself have experienced, is difficult to break even after deep introspection. One of the things I’ve learned at Dartmouth one thing that sets a psychological precedent for many Dartmouth men is that good people can do awful things to one other for absolutely no reason. There is an intoxicating nihilism at the center of our culture that fraternities perpetuate through pathological lies while continuing the abuses. Sadly, I have learned this through my experiences dealing with my former fraternity.

The truth is that my experience is not the exception, but rather the norm. The administration is fully aware of what goes on in our basements; I know this because I have had frank conversations with several high-level administrators. This column should not be a surprise to Dr. Kim, since it was David Spalding and April Thompson with whom I initially met and shared the troubling, graphic story of my experience as a Dartmouth man, replete with related media and places and times of future acts of hazing. Not enough was done: Hanover Police and the fraternity’s national organization were alerted, but the Hanover Police Department investigation only included an event that occurred outside of the house and was inconclusive. The national organization voiced strong complaints to two members over the summer a development in July that seemed to me to be positive but did not follow up its words with any kind of action or investigation.

And then the College’s action ended there. The administrators with whom I spoke claimed that they could do nothing more because I had asked to remain anonymous. I find that claim hard to believe. During my pledge term, the house came under serious scrutiny for hazing due to a tip trifling in comparison to the information I had provided them: In this case, a professor overheard two pledges in his class discussing vomiting milk. That inquiry involved interviews of pledges, who, at the suggestion of the house’s officers, offered preconceived, false denials.

It is my sincere hope that the administration can summon the courage to once and for all address the hazing and attendant assault culture that define the Greek experience at Dartmouth. The Greek system cannot continue this course, at my former fraternity or at others its culture requires extensive oversight and restructuring.

Perhaps the College could begin by finally withdrawing its recognition of fraternities that brazenly flout the law, College policy and basic human decency. Perhaps Greek life could be integrated as coeducational, if not suspended indefinitely until a suitable, positive alternative is devised. A residential college system would uphold Dartmouth’s rich social tradition while respecting the humanity of students in a way that current Greek life does not. Systems similar to these have been implemented with great success at Dartmouth’s peer institutions.

I know firsthand that we need real change that addresses the causes of our culture of disrespect; we also need to forgive each other, forgive ourselves and have courage. We can end the abuse. It is a small college, but there are those of us who feel the need to tell the truth about it.

Doctors want focus on social justice

Fitzhugh Mullan and Irene Dankwa-Mullan discussed the connections between medicine and social justice.

Influenced by the contrast between dissecting cadavers at an elite medical school and keeping armed vigil over a fire-bombed church in Mississippi during his summer as a civil rights worker, Fitzhugh Mullan a professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University began to explore the link between medicine and social justice. Reflecting on these experiences, Mullan and his wife, Irene Dankwa-Mullan DMS ’97, discussed the relationship between medical school, social accountability and the social determinants of health as part of Dartmouth Medical School’s ongoing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration on Tuesday.

After devoting himself to civil rights work during the summer of 1965, Mullan divided his time at the University of Chicago Medical School between civil rights activism and academics, he said. Looking to the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. and prominent Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky for guidance, he and his fellow students marched in protest and lab coats.

Following requests by Mullan, Alinsky addressed the group of protesting students. King declined in a “courteous” letter in which he misspelled Mullan’s name.

“When you get a letter from a great man and he misspells your name, it takes a little of the bloom off,” Mullan said. “But it was still very exciting and I still have the letter.”

In a 2010 study co-authored by fellow doctors at schools throughout the country and published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Mullan sought to measure the current state of social consciousness at medical schools. The study “The Social Mission of Medical Education: Ranking the Medical Schools” evaluated medical colleges based on the social justice work undertaken by their graduates, according to Mullan.

In order to determine levels of “social justice,” Mullan and his team ranked schools by the number of minority students they admitted and by the percentages of graduates working as primary care physicians or in underserved areas. “Prominent” institutions such as Vanderbilt University, Stony Brook University and New York University medical schools all ranked relatively low on the list, according to Mullan. Historically African-American and “comparatively unknown” schools fared the best, he said.

The findings stirred controversy among critics in the field, Mullen said. The president of the American Association of Medical Colleges called the findings “inaccurate,” and a New York Times editor declined to run a story on New York medical schools’ place “at the back of the pack,” according to Mullan.

While some commentators faulted the study for failing to include the philanthropy pursued by medical students during their studies and the research conducted at medical schools, Mullan said these proposed metrics would fail to address the concerns of the study.

“We’re trying to measure what kind of students these schools produce,” he said. “Lots of places do research, but only medical schools can make doctors.”

Some critics also objected to the high placement of historically African-American schools due to the traditionally high rate of minority students who enroll. This complaint provoked a reaction from Morehouse College and other top-scoring schools.

“They said, Wait, so it only counts if the Ivy League schools are on top, and if we do well it’s an invalid study?'” he said. “And I think that’s a conversation we need to have.”

Mullan is now working on a study on non-traditional medical schools and their success at inculcating a sense of a “social mission” in graduates.

Dankwa-Mullan who works on the integration of research and policy for the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities also connected the civil rights movement to her discussion of the relationship between social, psychological and biological determinants of health. Her overview of the history of social research on health began with W.E.B. DuBois’s essay “The Philadelphia Negro,” which rejected the notion of inherent health disparities between races in favor of social reform as prerequisite for wellness, she said.

More recent research such as the Preston-Curve, which details the correlation between a country’s per capita income and the life expectancy of its residents, has upheld DuBois’ arguments, Dankwa-Mullan said.

She explained several graphs illustrating the advantages of high socioeconomic status in health metrics such as life-expectancy, infant mortality and infectious and chronic disease.

Some of the ill-effects of social disenfranchisement are obvious, such as malnutrition and exposure to environmental toxins, according to Dwanka-Mullan. However, physical illness and low socioeconomic status interact in complex and sometimes intergenerational ways, she said.

Mothers subjected to physical and psychological stressors often transfer the stressors to children, causing low birth weight, which is correlated to a host of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, she said. Policy decisions affecting factors ranging from access to fresh fruit and public transportation to the prevalence of parks and liquor stores can determine the health of future generations from gestation onwards, she said.