Linda Chavez
Dartmouth College has a problem. Protestors occupied the president's office at the Ivy League school a couple of weeks ago and demanded more "womyn or people of color" faculty, coverage of sex-change operations on the student health plan, and "gender-neutral bathrooms," among other things. Now Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon has responded with a call "to end the extreme behaviors that are in conflict with our mission."

But Hanlon's aim seems focused almost exclusively on the campus fraternity system, and his solution -- a committee to look into "high-risk drinking, sexual assault and inclusivity" -- appears more a way to appease those who engaged in the sit-in than to confront genuine problems at the school.

Let me be clear. Binge drinking is a huge issue on campuses across the country, and fraternity hazing can be cruel and dangerous. But fraternities are not, by and large, the cause of the breakdown of civil and responsible behavior at Dartmouth or other colleges.

Dartmouth could ban fraternities tomorrow, and students would still get plastered every weekend, and young women would still wake up after drunken hookups feeling like they've been assaulted (and they aren't entirely wrong). What's more, minority students who've been admitted with lower grades and test scores through misguided affirmative action programs would still feel alienated and find themselves the objects of unfortunate stereotyping.

Last year, the National Association of Scholars issued a scathing report on similar goings-on at another elite school, Bowdoin College in Maine. Like Dartmouth, Bowdoin considers itself a progressive school with a mission to embrace "diversity" and tolerance. But as the report documented, Bowdoin's own policies have done much to set the stage for the behaviors administrators there say they deplore.

According to the NAS study, "Sex and drinking loom very large in student culture at Bowdoin -- and elsewhere," and the authors spent significant time and care in detailing the result. What they found was that hooking up -- defined as "physical contact with no expectation of emotional attachment or continuing social relationship" -- was endemic. And the school, by promoting sexual license with no social stigma or normative standards through heavily sexualized student orientation sessions and in the curriculum, made things worse. "Sexual freedom at Bowdoin results in sex that is frequent but often impersonal, mechanistic, acquisitive and accompanied by consumption of large amounts of alcohol," the study notes.


Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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