Hazing claims unlikely to alter yield, many say
By James Peng, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, April 6, 2012
While prospective students may have some reservations when accepting Dartmouth admissions offers in the wake of widely-publicized hazing allegations at the College, current undergraduates said they think that the flurry of media attention is unlikely to heavily influence prospective students’ decisions. Similar institutions that have experienced negative national publicity in recent years did not see a significant change in matriculation rates, but prospective Dartmouth students interviewed had mixed reactions to the hazing allegations.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Maria Laskaris ’84 said that the impact of the hazing allegations on prospective students’ college decisions is still unknown at this time.
“Students and parents obviously have concerns about the social life, so we’ve been trying to be pretty proactive in trying to address them,” she said.
The College offered admission to 2,180 students for the Class of 2016 and plans on enrolling between 1,100 and 1,110 students in the fall, according to a College press release.
The yield rate is projected to be approximately 50.5 percent, a slight decrease from the 51 percent yield rate for the Class of 2015.
Early indicators of the admissions yield are consistent with numbers from previous years, according to Laskaris.
The number of students who have accepted admissions offers thus far, a week after the decisions were released, has proven similar to that of past years, Laskaris said. Those who made their decision quickly, however, may have already decided to matriculate at Dartmouth before hazing became so widely discussed.
The hazing allegations have been a common concern of those who have posted on the Admission Office’s online forum and participated in online Chatapalooza admissions event, which enabled prospective students to video chat with current students at the College, Laskaris said.
Laskaris said that most prospective students recognize that the account by Andrew Lohse ’12 regarding fraternity culture “is one student’s experience” and “not the experience of the entire campus.”
Increased media attention following College President Jim Yong Kim’s nomination for the World Bank presidency and his possible departure from the College is not expected to affect the yield rate, Laskaris said.
“The example that he set in terms of the work that he’s done sends a positive message of what Dartmouth does to prepare members of the community for further leadership roles,” Laskaris said.
Of the approximately 1,700 students placed on the waitlist, about 1,000 are expected to stay active on the list, Laskaris said. In past years, between 10 and 90 waitlisted students have been admitted, according to Laskaris.
Many tour guides interviewed by The Dartmouth said questions about hazing were not as common as they had expected.
“It has been a pretty popular question, but it’s not uncommon to have a tour without a question [about hazing],” Admissions Office intern and tour guide Holly Ceplikas ’13 said.
Tour guide Anna Fagin ’13 said that most prospective students have asked for her personal perspective on Lohse’s allegations.
“Most of them are really eager and excited about Dartmouth,” she said. “They’re nervous and scared and definitely want to hear that the [Rolling Stone] article isn’t true.”
Fagin said she does not think the recent allegations have influenced how prospective students view the College.
“Greek life is something that prospective students are always intimidated about,” Fagin said. “I don’t know if it altered perceptions as much as made students aware of stereotypes that have already existed.”
Students and parents may be reluctant to mention the topic during tours, however, as it could create an “awkward atmosphere,” Michael Zhu ’14 said.
“Also, I don’t think parents are super concerned because there’s a lot of stuff in the Rolling Stone article that parents may be taking with a grain of salt,” he said.
Most tour guides said they do not expect Kim’s possible departure to play a role in the admissions yield.
“It’s a pretty cool opportunity for him and good for our school because gets Dartmouth’s name out there,” Zhu said. “It doesn’t change students’ views.”
Fagin said representatives in the Admissions Office told tour guides that “honesty is the best policy” in fielding answers about the hazing allegations and Kim’s departure.
Prospective students interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed mixed views on the subject.
Shelby Yee, a high school senior from White River Junction who is deciding between Dartmouth, Queens University and California Polytechnic State University, said the hazing allegations have not influenced her perception of the College.
“I knew that Greek life is a big deal at Dartmouth,” she said. “I know a student that goes there, and he said it’s not as bad as how [Lohse] put it. If I do go to Dartmouth, I would probably still rush.”
Akash Kar, a senior at Saratoga High School in Saratoga, Calif. admitted to the College, said the allegations have created a sense of doubt about his decision.
“I read the Rolling Stone article and the ridiculous things that [Lohse] had to go through,” Kar said. “It brought to light how serious hazing is to Dartmouth. It has definitely made an impact whether or not I want to go here.”
Recent history from comparable universities showed that highly-publicized incidents on college campuses do not generally affect admissions statistics.
Pennsylvania State University saw a 4-percent rise in applications this year despite widespread media coverage of a sexual abuse scandal involving former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, according to The New York Times.
Duke University’s 2006 lacrosse incident, in which rape accusations were made against three members of the men’s lacrosse team, did not significantly affect the yield rate at the university that year, according to Duke University Director of Admissions Christoph Guttentag.
“There was no significant change from the year before.” he said. “It decreased 1 percent, which is not a dramatic change.”
Duke’s social scene was also profiled in a Rolling Stone expose at the time of the case.
Guttentag declined to comment on whether he thought the publicity surrounding hazing at Dartmouth would influence the College’s yield.
On Thursday, The New York Times posted a blog post regarding hazing allegations at Dartmouth that asked its readers to weigh in on whether or not the allegations would have an effect on admissions yields.