Dartmouth Gets Letter
Dartmouth became the latest school to be flooded with letters from a man claiming he was attracted to men but repelled by homosexual behavior last week.
Hundreds of male students and some female students with non-gender specific names received the letter, authored by a man who claims to want "to find someone gay that I like," as he wrote in an e-mail to The Dartmouth, the campus newspaper.
In a telephone interview with The Dartmouth, the author claimed to have sent almost 10,000 letters to Ivy League schools.
The man, who claimed in his letters to be a Harvard graduate, sent letters explaining that though he finds himself attracted to men, he doesn't like behavior he thinks of as typically gay.
He asked recipients to write back and included a Cambridge post office box number for the replies.
Similar letters were received by students last month at Williams College and two years ago by students at Harvard and Yale.
Dartmouth students seemed unperturbed by the mass mailing.
"I didn't really care," said sophomore Joe J. Edelman.
Other students echoed Edelman's view.
"I found it humorous initially," said first-year Seth H. Hitchins. "I thought it was a hoax or prank played by another school."
The story on the letter in The Dartmouth focused on concern about the easy access to students' names, addresses and other information.
"This recent incident calls into question the availability of student information to people outside of Dartmouth," the article said under a headline reading "College Gives Any-one Vital Stats."
But students were unfazed.
"I kind of felt strongly that [The Dartmouth was] wrong," Hitchins said. "The only information [available] is trivial."
Hitchins said finding friends at other schools would be impossible if such information was kept confidential.
"I believe that's something that should be open, because it can be more useful than hurtful," Hitchins said.
Nor were most students offended by the letter.
"Everyone I know who got it laughed during the whole thing," said junior Nathan T. Cook.
"I don't know if any of my friends found it offensive as much as they found it humorous or strange," Hitchins said.
The exact number of letters received at Dartmouth is unclear, but appears to run into the hundreds.
Beyond gender, there was no clear pattern to who got a letter and who did not.
"Not a lot of my friends got it," said Edelman, who added that he thinks about 500 students received the letter.
"Every one of my friends that I talked to got one," Hitchins said.
Sophomore Benjamin M. Hill described looking around a classroom to find several other men holding the same letter.
Cook described the relief of discovering other students with the letter.
"[Students] felt kind of strange if they got it when they were alone, but when they realized other people got it, it was funny," he said.