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Letter to the Editors of Rolling Stone by Charlotte Johnson, Dean of the College

April 6, 2012

The story in the March 30 edition of Rolling Stone entitled: "Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy" paints a grossly misleading portrait of Dartmouth College and resorts to hearsay and sensationalism in its approach to challenging and complex problems, rather than treating the subjects with the care and circumspection they deserve.

All forms of high-risk student behavior are a very serious concern for institutions of higher education in this country. In their most extreme forms, they have the potential to destroy lives. However, the attempt to stereotype life at Dartmouth based on the "confessions" of one individual is unbalanced and is indeed in stark contrast to the experience of the vast majority of our students.

Dartmouth strongly condemns hazing, high-risk drinking, and sexual assault and has rigorous policies in place in all areas to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our students. Hazing and any other actions that place another person in danger of physical or psychological harm are strictly prohibited at Dartmouth, as well as by New Hampshire state law.

From the outset, reducing the harm of high-risk behaviors has been a priority for President Jim Yong Kim and his administration. Details of many Dartmouth initiatives were shared with the Rolling Stone reporter by members of the administration including me. Among them are a well-staffed office of health promotion, the expansion of our wellness program, and the bringing together of 32 colleges and universities across the country in a common effort to tackle high-risk drinking. As we work to improve fraternities and sororities, we have appointed a national expert as our new director of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies. The new director is working closely with student leaders to prevent hazing and increase organizational accountability. We have begun peer intervention programs for both high risk drinking and sexual assault, and are currently working with a nationally recognized expert on sexual violence prevention. Rolling Stone, however, chose not to explore how we and others are implementing specific evidence-based approaches to keep students safe.

I have worked in higher education for 15 years and, in my experience, Dartmouth's commitment to addressing serious issues that threaten student safety is unsurpassed. It is regrettable that Rolling Stone has sought to reduce life at Dartmouth to a one dimensional, inaccurate caricature, rather than recognizing the reality of the Dartmouth community as being one that is inherently vibrant and diverse, focused on students' well-being, and known for producing responsible leaders across the globe.

Charlotte H. Johnson
Dean of the College 

Last Updated: 4/6/12