The Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Committee dropped all 27 hazing charges against members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on Friday, according to former SAE president Brendan Mahoney ’12. Former SAE member Andrew Lohse ’12, who made the initial hazing allegations, said UJAO also dropped the hazing charges against him.
UJAO had previously dropped 24 of the 27 charges, and the remaining three charges were withdrawn on Friday.
While the individual charges have been dropped, “organizational charges against SAE remain pending,” College Director of Media Relations Justin Anderson said in a statement to The Dartmouth.
The first 24 individual charges were withdrawn after SAE provided “physical evidence that proved specific claims by Lohse false,” Mahoney previously told The Dartmouth. The remaining three charges were rescinded for the same reason, he said on Friday.
“In the current case involving alleged hazing by individual members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, information initially presented to the UJAO supported the charges,” Anderson said. “Information received subsequently, however, indicated that the initial information contained inaccuracies and was not a sufficient basis for the charges to proceed to hearing. Accordingly, all those charges against individuals have been rescinded.”
The withdrawal of charges came two days after Rolling Stone magazine published Lohse’s account of his experience of hazing at SAE.
Lohse indicated in a statement to The Dartmouth that the College had dropped the charges largely because he was unwilling to cooperate with an investigation that targeted specific individuals.
“I had written a letter to [Director of UJAO] Nate Miller saying that I wouldn’t go along with an investigation targeting individuals when this is such a widespread problem.” Lohse said. “Throwing 27 guys under the bus for the sake of the college’s PR would have been incredibly unethical. My letter was coincident with the charges being dropped.”
Lohse also criticized the way the College handled the hazing allegations and said that the College was pursuing charges against Lohse even though he was the one who brought attention to the issue.
“Let’s be clear here that the charges are not being dropped because, surprise, SAE doesn’t haze … they are being dropped because the College ran a poor investigation,” Lohse said. “You can’t really get anywhere when you sh*t on your informant.”
Some students interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed approval of UJAO’s decision to drop the charges, because they felt there was likely no evidence to support Lohse’s allegations in the first place.
Zach Wood ’15 said that by dropping the charges, the College can now move on to finding real solutions to the problem of hazing rather than victimizing individuals.
“The dropping of the charges against 27 SAE brothers shows that the College is finally moving away from publicly saving face and instead moving towards what is fair,” Wood said. “Dartmouth should still continue pursuing a safer and healthier social environment, but by focusing on real issues and evidence, not media pressure and the tall tales of one disgruntled sensationalist.”
William Helman V ’15 said the College did not seem to have much evidence outside of Lohse’s allegations.
“I don’t think they had the evidence, and you shouldn’t prosecute on the word of one person who clearly has no love for the organization,” Helman said. “I’m assuming they couldn’t find anything.”
Tanisha Panditharatne ’13, however, said that although she was skeptical of the accusations and was unsure of the amount of evidence that actually existed, dropping the charges could send the wrong message about hazing at Dartmouth.
“If there was evidence involved in whatever the College was charging them with, then I’m surprised that the College is not following up on it,” Panditharatne said. “I wonder now if that gives SAE, or any other fraternity, the grounds to go ahead with business as usual when it comes to pledge terms.”
Current SAE president Michael Fancher ’13 declined requests for comment.