An account of sordidness and redemption by the Dartmouth fraternity member whose Rolling Stone profile blew the whistle on the frat's inhumane hazing practices.
Always trust the brotherhood.
Always protect your pledge brothers.
What happens in the house stays in the house.
Before attending Dartmouth, the worst thing Andrew Lohse had ever done was skip school to attend a John McCain rally. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, he was the typical American honor student: straight-As, on the lacrosse team, president of the Model U.N. He dreamed of following in his grandfather’s footsteps and graduating from the Ivy League. When he arrived at Dartmouth, however, he found not the prestigious college of years past, but a wasteland of privilege and moral entropy. And when he rushed Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity that inspired the rival house in Animal House, Lohse’s once-perfect life, as well as his goals, began to crumble around him.
Lured by free booze and friendly brothers, Andrew pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and soon his life became a dangerous cycle of binge drinking and public humiliation. From chugging vinegar to swimming in a pool of human waste, Lohse’s pledge class endured cruelty and psychological coercion in the hopes of obtaining a bid. Although Andrew succeeded in joining the fraternity, the pattern of abuse continued—except over time, he became the abuser.
Told by a contemporary Holden Caulfield, this is a shocking exposé of America’s most exclusive institutions and a cautionary tale for modern times.
BOOT ON HIS HEAD
Vomit is dripping through my hair. It’s warm. Gelatinous. Thick. Somehow this feeling is comforting. Maybe that’s because I associate it with other feelings. Acceptance. Validation.
Now the vomit has reached my neck. Squinting down into the trash can I’m bent over—staring into the shadow my head casts from the basement’s bright fluorescent lights—I wonder if this is what amniotic fluid felt like in the womb. I try to remember but can’t. After all, it doesn’t matter, because back then I wasn’t
“Together, these three books make a persuasive case that the Ivy League is, collectively, a moribund institution, a triumph of marketing whose allure far exceeds its social utility. After all, if our finest colleges can neither turn relatively privileged men like Lohse into models of society nor vault someone like Peace out of the urban destitution from which he’d so nearly escaped, then what are they good for?”
—Newsweek on Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy (along with Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace)
“His dry humor and contemplative moments keep the pages turning…Lohse shed a clear light on the tribal stupidity of young men.”
“Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy is a must read for students, parents, and especially for anyone thinking of entering the Greek system. An engrossing cautionary story on the highs and lows found in the fraternal institution, told with intelligence, candor, sympathy, and most of all, bravery. Lohse deserves the highest praise for crafting a very important memoir.”
—Brad Land, author of Goat and Pilgrims Upon the Earth
“You’ll be horrified by what young men do to feel elite, disturbed by the stagnancy of Ivy League traditions, and relieved by the changes this powerful book is sure to ignite.”
—Eric Kester, author of That Book about Harvard
"A frat brother is three times more likely to commit rape than a male student who is not in a frat. Why? Andrew Lohse's book gives the beginning of an answer; Lohse takes readers into the basements where young men perform hazing rituals that are eerily similar to sexual abuse. This, I think, is how some young men learn how to rape. Lohse has done a service by exposing the worst of frat culture."
—Pagan Kennedy, author and New York Times magazine columnist
"A truly unsettling account of fraternity hazing, snobbery, class-conscious striving, and lots and lots of vomiting. Ultimately Andrew Lohse demonstrates just how dangerously far many Dartmouth students have strayed from the supposed point of going to college—and how administrators have let them do it."
—Nicholas L. Syrett, author of The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities
“A disturbing tale of hazing, conformity and socially constructed depravity, told with unflinching honesty. Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy takes place at Dartmouth but this could be any university in America. Our colleges are hiding behind tradition and legacy, all the while churning out the type of amoral, binge-drinking, self-hating yes-men who would literally drink their own pee to get ahead. This book will shock you…and maybe give you just a touch of alcohol poisoning.”
—Dave Tomar, author of The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat
“Andrew Lohse shows great courage in revealing how the empty lives, moral depravity, lawlessness, greed, constant lying, selfishness and inhumanity of America’s financial and corporate elites are forged at fraternities at “elite” schools like Dartmouth. Frat “brothers” who dehumanize themselves as they vomit on and drink one another’s urine, talk about women as if they were toilet paper, and regularly drink and drug themselves into stupefaction, inevitably display the same inhuman behavior toward their fellow-citizens in their adult lives. And the fraternities which defy feckless Dartmouth administrators who hope for future alumni contributions from them foreshadow Wall Street and corporate criminality when frat members become adults. As America’s elites seize increasingly more wealth simply because they can, and thus impoverish increasing numbers of their fellow Americans, Lohse’s well-written and hard-hitting book offers revealing insights into the elite moral and spiritual emptiness that lie at the heart of America’s current decline.”
—Fred Branfman, prominent antiwar activist and author