The indiscreet charm of the Dartmouth fraternity scene

The Dartblog, which reports on all things Dartmouth, is temporarily quiet right now, so I’ll be writing a bit more about the College than I normally do when there is no election taking place. Ironically, the protagonist of today’s post is a former writer for Dartblog, Phil Aubart ’10, who will be graduating in less than two weeks.
The antagonists are three Dartmouth students who were arrested last month, two on felony charges relating to the alleged use of cocaine and two based on allegations of subsequent witness tampering (one student was arrested for both). The cocaine usage occurred in a common room of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, to which the users, as well as the alleged witness tamperer, belonged. The two users lacked sufficient respect for their house to consume the drugs in a private room. And, as an added touch, they used “composites,” those large pictures of their brothers from earlier classes, as the surface from which to snort their drugs.
Violations of the drug or drinking laws — common phenomena at Dartmouth — put a fraternity and its leaders in jeopardy. A house can be fined up to $100,000 and its officers can be punished, and even imprisoned. Moreover, the local police force has become aggressive about hauling house leaders on the carpet over violations. The president of one house had to appear before the police to address allegations of underage drinking by some of her younger sisters. Given the potential consequences, the president (or her parents) felt compelled to hire an attorney to appear with her.
Even so, house officers are reluctant to crack down on brothers or sisters who violate the drug and drinking laws. They find it easier to adopt the path of least resistance just as, in all likelihood, many of the parents of the offenders have done.
Phil Aubart proved to be an exception. He is a member and former officer of SAE. He is also a military veteran. Phil had previously asked his fraternity brothers to stop using drugs in the common area of his house. Only after his requests and warnings continued to be ignored did Phil go to the police.
After the bust, Phil was subject to intense harassment. One of the students arrested for drug use spat on him and poured out a beer in his room in the frat house. Another charming student urinated on his bedroom door, and several others had to be prevented from breaking into his bedroom to urinate on his belongings. Phil eventually moved to a dorm.
The fact that the use of drugs in a common area at SAE had put the house in serious jeopardy seemed to be of no moment to many of its members. One of them boasted that SAE could afford multiple fines of $100,000. That comment pretty much says it all.
I’m told that the controversy has finally died down, as students focus on exams and seniors begin looking ahead to graduation. I had heard that Phil might be the target of jeering at the graduation ceremony. Perhaps, given the passage of time, those initially inclined to do so will think again.
Either way, I’ll be there to report (my daughter is graduating). The response, or lack of one, should provide our Dartmouth readers with insight into the moral quality of the students who have benefited from their financial support to the College.


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