Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The University of Vermont’s Culture of Violence

“If you could rape someone, who would it be?”

That was the question which appeared on a survey circulated by members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Vermont recently which went viral on the Internet.  UVM had once again lived up to its reputation as a place where wealthy kids from the Northeast, who can’t get into Ivy League schools, can come play in the snow for four years.

But why was this a surprise to anyone familiar with UVM’s culture of violence which dates back at least twenty years?  Who could ever forget the 1999 “elephant walk” in which freshmen members of the UVM ice hockey team were forced to wear women’s underwear, drink warm beer and liquor until they vomited, and parade around like circus elephants holding each other’s genitals? This incident resulted in suspension of the hockey season that year and the resignation of the University’s president.

Back in the early 90s alcohol was a contributing factor in the deaths of four UVM students in five years.  For all too many UVM students their motto is, “You can’t believe how drunk I got last night.”  More recently four officers of another UVM fraternity were charged with violating the state’s new hazing law enacted after the 1999 UVM ice hockey scandal.

UVM’s affinity for violence was reaffirmed by the announcement that it had entered into a partnership with the U.S. government-owned Sandia National Laboratories, known best for the fact that it designs, builds, and tests nuclear weapons.  Although Sandia’s research at UVM will not involve weapons of mass destruction, no one seems to care whether UVM is being used by Sandia to help legitimize its real business, instruments of death.  UVM will receive $9 million from Sandia.  Money still speaks.

Like most universities in the United States, UVM has an active ROTC program whose aim is to train professional killers to support the American Empire’s policy of full spectrum dominance.  Many ROTC students have four-year scholarships.  Upon graduation they agree to go anywhere in the world to which they are assigned by Uncle Sam to kill in the name of the State.  Ironically, UVM also has a premier medical school committed to saving lives rather than destroying them.

And then there is the case of Major General Michael Dubie, head of the Vermont National Guard.  For his role in sending young Vermonters to faraway places such as Afghanistan and Iraq to kill or be killed on behalf of the Empire, General Dubie was awarded an honorary UVM doctorate degree by the Board of Trustees.

The most exasperating aspect of UVM’s culture of violence is the indifference expressed towards it by the UVM board of trustees, administration, faculty, and students.  Neither General Dubie’s honorary degree nor the Sandia Corporation were ever discussed by the UVM Faculty Senate.  At most reputable universities, honorary degrees have to be approved by the faculty’s governing body.  Not so at UVM.

As an alternative, consider the case of Vice President Richard Nixon, who even though he was a graduate of the Duke Law School, was denied an honorary degree by the Duke Academic Council.  This same faculty governing body successfully blocked an attempt to house the Nixon Presidential Library on the Duke campus a few years later.

The real issue facing UVM is not the Sigma Phi Epsilon rape survey question, but rather how many unreported rapes have there been at UVM over the past twenty years as a result of the University’s benign neglect of its culture of violence?

Thomas H. Naylor is Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of AffluenzaDownsizing the U.S.A., and The Search for Meaning.

More articles by:
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail