Dartmouth Hazing

In other awkward fraternity-based news, Dartmouth is still attempting to deal with the fallout from the recent Rolling Stone article about its drinking and fraternity-dominated social life (and potential hazing problem).

It seemed to be doing pretty well though. President Barack Obama recently chose Dartmouth’s humanitarian president to be head of the World Bank. And the school recently picked its new trustees. One of them seemed so promising. According to an article by J.K. Trotter at Ivy Gate:

Nathaniel Fick (D ’99) will be elected to Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees. The CEO of a Washington think tank, Fick is an attractive candidate: he’s intelligent (Harvard Kennedy/Business), served in the Marine Corps, and will be the youngest trustee by over a decade. In contrast, the other two Trustees who will share Fick’s victory are straight-up Dartmouth drones: an ex-Goldman venture capitalist and a corporate lawyer.

But Fick, the head of the Center for a New American Security, a national security think tank, has a little problem.

In 2005, when promoting his book, One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer, he gave an interview where he seemed to say that all that hazing at Officer Candidate School was, well, kind of useful. As he explained to Book Reporter

I reached a realization about midway through my training that all the hazing and abuse wasn’t about how much I could take. It was about how much I could give. And when you have a group of forty guys all come to that same realization, you have a very powerful group that can suffer unbelievable hardship together and take care of one another as a team.

Now, of course, this is not merely an exercise in public relations. If that was the lesson Fick got in training, well that was the lesson. He is under no obligation to condemn hazing if he found it to be beneficial team building exercise.

But come on Dartmouth.

Listen, we get it. Hazing used to be one of those things that we all thought of as perfectly normal. Much like smoking on airplanes, it used to be just one of those things you did. Hazing was a way of creating comradery and familiarity and working through something together.

But this is over. Hazing is really, really frowned upon now. Get with it. Come on, seriously, Dartmouth, you’ve got to get better about this stuff.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer