College Guide


April 13, 2012 11:00 AM Dartmouth Hazing

By Daniel Luzer

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


  • Stephen Bates on April 15, 2012 4:32 PM:

    Sir, there is a marked difference between unstructured hazing from peers, usually influenced by alcohol with no supervision or checks and balances. Collegiate fraternities.

    In contrast, discussing the "hazing" in the Marine Corps or other military service is usually deliberately structured to induce conditions of stress replicating those found in combat, often in the form of food and sleep deprivation, often under extreme physical duress. This is done carefully in structured environments, in a subordinate/superior relationship, with a number of checks and balances to ensure no permanent physical harm.

    Having experienced both and dished a little out myself, it is unfortunate the term is used interchangably.

    Rangers Lead The Way!