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Letter to the Community from Dean Thompson

April 20, 2012

Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,

Over the past several weeks, hazing allegations at Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) have prompted important discussion and debate on campus about student safety, accountability and our values.  The allegations resulted from a report that SAE forced new members to engage in activities that violated Dartmouth's hazing policy during the 2009 and 2011 new member education periods.

Following an extensive disciplinary hearing process that involved reviewing more than 300 pages of evidence and questioning witnesses, the Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) panel found SAE responsible for engaging in hazing and disorderly conduct in 2009 and for providing alcohol to underage students in 2009 and 2011.  The OAC did not find a preponderance of evidence that SAE engaged in the most egregious of the allegations detailed in the report, and did not find a preponderance of evidence that SAE hazed new members in 2011.
The OAC panel was composed of students, faculty and staff and the disciplinary procedures can be found at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deancoll/student-handbook/standards.html#oac.

The OAC concluded that SAE had violated the hazing and alcohol policies in 2009.  Specifically, SAE admitted that in 2009 it drove blindfolded students off-campus, expected students to drink shots of saltwater or alcohol, expected students to run in formal dress from the golf course to the house while brothers heckled them from cars, and expected new members to enter a splash pool filled with food.  The OAC found these behaviors to be in violation of the College's hazing policy.  The OAC also found that SAE violated the College alcohol policy when it allowed underage students access to alcohol during the new member activities.

Consistent with the specific behaviors involved and the OAC sanctioning guidelines, the OAC imposed a three-term probationary period and an extensive series of educational requirements on SAE.  These requirements include the adoption of a three-year new member education plan approved by the Greek Letter Organizations Societies (GLOS) Director, the establishment of an advisory board to assist in developing and overseeing the implementation of the new member education process, campus-wide educational programming, new provisions in the house alcohol management plan, and consultation with SAE at the national level about the outcome of this process.

In the hearing, SAE committed to working in the years ahead with the College, SAE at the national level and an advisory board to build on improvements already made to the 2011 new member education process.  Should SAE fail to meet these expectations within the time frames established, or if any further violations occur, SAE could be suspended or have its recognition revoked.

Hazing is strictly prohibited at Dartmouth by both College policy and New Hampshire law, but we would be naive to say it does not occur. We know it does, which is why, when confronted with allegations, we will immediately investigate and take appropriate action. This week's disciplinary hearing was one of several that have taken place over the past year where organizations have been found responsible for hazing. We simply will not tolerate hazing, and will take action to keep our student body safe. This is a challenging and complex issue that demands community engagement.  If we are to make progress, we must all take responsibility for our actions and make individual choices that improve the community as a whole. I look forward to continuing the conversation and hearing from you about how we can work together to make Dartmouth even better.

Sincerely,

April Thompson
Associate Dean of the College for Campus Life

Last Updated: 4/20/12