WITH ITS “Animal House” reputation no longer a comedy, Dartmouth College’s president, Philip Hanlon, made a bold call for civility. The college saw a 14 percent drop in applications this year. Hanlon attributes part of the drop to nationally publicized incidents of fraternity hazing, racist parties, heavy drinking, and Internet attacks on students protesting the school’s handling of sexual assaults.
Hanlon, a 1977 Dartmouth graduate who was in a fraternity, said the incidents add up to a “grave disconnect between our life in the classroom and the behaviors outside of it.” Rather than take a defensive posture, as many university presidents have, he named a steering committee to make recommendations on reforming campus life. A new sexual assault policy mandating expulsion for offenders is an important sign the campus means business on that issue. “It doesn’t do any good to say nothing’s going on,” Hanlon said in a recent interview. Dartmouth once inspired the 1978 John Belushi frat-house comedy, which Librarian of Congress James Billington recently put into the National Film Registry. Its toga parties and food fights spoofed “our indulgent collegiate life,” said Hanlon. He rightfully insists it’s time to grow up.