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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

World Bank nomination concerns some in Dartmouth community

Published: March 30, 2012
Section: News

President Obama nominated Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim last Friday to lead the World Bank. Although applauded nationally for his background in economic development, Dartmouth students have voiced concerns over student life issues during Kim’s presidency.

After only a three-year term as Dartmouth College’s president, the second shortest in the history of the college, some feel that Kim used the university as a “stepping stone” to a higher position. Others feel that as he moves on, he leaves his work at the school unfinished, especially after recent charges of hazing arose in Dartmouth’s Greek system. Hazing is a criminal offense in New Hampshire. Twenty-seven members of Dartmouth fraternities were charged with the hazing, though according to a former head of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Dartmouth, all but three of the original 27 charges have been dropped after the fraternities gave “physical evidence” disputing the allegations originally made by the former fraternity member Andrew Lohse, according to The Washington Post.

If Kim’s nomination is accepted, he will head one of the world’s largest economic institutions. He has not previously run a financial institution. He is a global health expert, anthropologist, physician and former director of the HIV/AIDS department at the World Health Organization. The White House selected Kim after considering Senator John Kerry, Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers and U.N. ambassador Susan E. Rice, according to The New York Times.

The largest concern from Dartmouth students includes the potential abandonment of anti-binge drinking initiatives that Kim had started. Whether they will be continued with the same vehemence by his successor is uncertain.

Kim equated the binge drinking on the Dartmouth campus to an “epidemic” and began work to decrease the negative effects, which he listed as sexual assault and injury earlier in his tenure.

Despite the prevalence of alcohol abuse in the Greek system, the extremes of which were immortalized by the film “Animal House,” which depicts a fictionalized version of Dartmouth’s Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, Kim said in a January interview with The Statesman, that Greeks instead lead to “the development of wonderfully close relationships.”

Two months later, an expose by a Dartmouth fraternity member caused upheaval on campus as well as in the national press. Kim was accused of ignoring or overlooking the hazing of fraternity pledges, which included swimming through a kiddy pool of fecund bodily fluids and consuming omelets made of vomit, which damaged the university’s image as well as its president. The school charged students individually, including the student who initially admitted the crimes in an opinion piece in a Dartmouth student newspaper.

According to a student interviewed by The Dartmouth, a campus paper, Kim’s nomination was “convenient” for the college, washing away much of the bad press incurred by the recent tumults. Students did not believe he would stay long, reported The Dartmouth, and some felt he was not a good fit for the university.

The majority of national press has been positive, but reservations have been raised not only over the hazing scandal that rocked Dartmouth and the Ivy Greek world earlier this year, but his lack of experience in economics and finance as well. He has run non-profits and is an expert in global health, but has not controlled any financial institutions.

From Dartmouth itself, opinions are mixed. Many in the Dartmouth community feel that Kim’s choice to pursue the position at the World Bank is an abandonment of the university. For the first two years of his term, the college was entrenched in financial difficulties that made progress nearly impossible and, in the last year, the college suffered the hazing scandal.

Still, the majority of students support Kim as a good leader of the World Bank. Only 16.2 percent thought he was not, while 12.3 percent chose a non-response option in a poll by The Dartmouth. Whether they were satisfied with Kim as a president of their university, however, showed slightly more split results. First-year students ranked the lowest satisfaction, with 4.26 out of 10, and seniors the highest with 6.85. Some students feel that Kim has abandoned his initiatives, and hoped that he would do more to reduce the binge drinking and sexual assault that is prevalent on the Dartmouth College campus.