‘Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy’: Student Newspaper Hazing Op-Ed Becomes a Book
As I previously posted, in late January 2012, The Dartmouth published a personal piece by then-senior Andrew Lohse outlining the many degrading acts he said he’d endured in 2010 while pledging a fraternity at the Ivy League school.
In his confessional, headlined “Telling the Truth,” Lohse wrote, “I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen, and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beers poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks; and vomit on other pledges, among other abuses. Certainly, pledges could have refused these orders. However, under extreme peer pressure and the desire to ‘be a brother,’ most acquiesced.” Yowza.
The frankness of the piece — and the misdeeds it describes occurring behind Ivy-covered walls — led to a bevy of rapid shares and shocked responses from online readers. It also triggered a campus hazing investigation, a ton of press coverage (including a prominent feature in Rolling Stone) and a book deal for Lohse.
When the deal was struck, the book’s working title was “Party at the End of the World.” The final published title though is more straightforward, choosing to ape the headline of the earlier Rolling Stone story about him: “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: A Memoir.“
According to Andrew Kingsley, a current Dartmouth student and confirmed frat boy, the memoir is more than blood vomiting, kiddie-pool swimming and ass-crack beer-drinking — but not much more.
“This is a ‘de-coming’ of age story … chronicling Lohse’s deflowering from a high school kid to a perpetually blacked-out, coked-out and checked-out frat star. … After 90 pages of vomit, pong and enough coke usage to rival Sigmund Freud, Lohse has made his point. If he had stopped there and begun moralizing, I wouldn’t have much to criticize. Yet he insists on dragging us through his kiddie pool of repetitive, rancid stories, with chunks of wasteful anecdotes and spoiled writing bathed in bombast to remind us that he’s an Ivy League writer. Like a vague drunken memory, it all blurs together by the book’s conclusion.”
Did I mention Kingsley is not a huge fan of the book?
In a separate review, a Wall Street Journal staffer questions the accuracy of Lohse’s original op-ed and his subsequent memoir-laden motivations: “Are his confessions honest — or ex post facto baloney meant to serve his political agenda and, by the way, help land a book deal and (fingers crossed) movie treatment? I wonder. Certainly he seems to revel in his status as a victim, rather than taking responsibility for his own choices and conduct.”
By the way, for those scoring at home, this is at least the fourth piece of content appearing in a student newspaper in recent semesters to serve as the foundation for a book deal.
Yale University student Natalie Krinsky parlayed her popular Yale Daily News sex column into a Sex-and-the-City-style novel called “Chloe Does Yale.” Fellow Yalie Marina Keegan had her own book published posthumously, in large part based on the attention given to a piece she wrote for the YDN just before she died in a car crash. And Princeton University alumnae Susan Patton’s book “Marry Smart” was spawned from a letter to the editor she wrote to The Daily Princetonian urging female students to find a husband while still in school.
Princeton Alum Writes Letter to Student Paper Advising Women ‘Find a Husband on Campus Before You Graduate’