We were alarmed and grossed out last month by Janet Reitman's Rolling Stone article about the hazing practices of Dartmouth fraternities, but that was before we learned that the "vomit omelet" (aka, "vomlet") in the article isn't disgusting abuse—it's performance art.
Snowden Wright, a Dartmouth alum and former member of Sigma Alpha Epsillon, the fraternity at the center of Reitman's piece, made that point in a New York Daily News op-ed, called (inevitably) "In Defense of Hazing," in which he defending his house's reputation. Wright, who was a brother more than a decade ago, says he never had to drink vinegar or sample an upchuck tasting menu ("I never had to eat a “vomit omelet"), but he did eat some other things: "We had to drink a gallon of whole milk in less than an hour. We were pelted with mashed potatoes. We had to gnaw the head off a fish," he writes. That also sounds pretty terrible, but apparently it wasn't so bad. Wright explains:
We chose to enter a fraternity, and we had fun while doing it. Our experience was almost like performance art. We weren’t pledges; we were “pledges.” It wasn’t hazing; it was “hazing.”
Hm. "Maybe." It's worth noting that Wright doesn't address former SAE brother Andrew Lohse's claim that SAE pledges had to sit in a kiddie pool full of vomit, urine, semen and rotten food. Or if you prefer, "a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, semen and rotten food."