Editor’s note: Chloe Ezzo, a student at Dartmouth College, originally attempted to publish a variation of this piece in The Dartmouth, the official school newspaper. However, it effectively blocked her piece by not allowing her to properly describe the event or mention the biological sex of the performer.
Dartmouth’s school-sponsored drag club, the House of Lewan, plans to host its spring drag show on Friday, May 5. The event is being funded and actively promoted by Dartmouth, despite the club having disparaged Christians in one of its past performances.
When I covered the House of Lewan’s fall drag show for The College Fix last November, I was surprised to see that it included a sexualized burlesque performance by a student who dressed up like a nun and stripped down to a thong and pasties. She performed her strip dance to the song “Sinners,” concluding by touching her breasts and swinging a rosary around in the air before ending in genuflection.
In the end, The Fix couldn’t publish my footage of the event because they deemed it too obscene. This story was newsworthy, to say the least, but Dartmouth’s campus publications were silent.
After The Fix published my article, a number of students and community members approached me and expressed that they found the House of Lewan’s performance offensive and highly disrespectful to Christians. A few of them wanted to write an op-ed expressing this sentiment, but they were too afraid to attach their names to such an article for fear of repercussions.
This is sadly the reality of what self-censorship looks like for right-of-center students at Dartmouth.
To be clear, I am not criticizing the existence of the House of Lewan. The Council on Student Organizations (COSO) and Dartmouth’s administration believe that students dressing up in drag (even in sexualized costumes) has enough artistic and academic merit to be worthy of college funding.
Rather, my message is a simple request for respect.
Imagine the outcry on campus if this student had performed a similar burlesque in a hijab or a burqa. It would have been covered extensively by campus media and decried as an act of Islamophobia, and Dartmouth’s Muslim student associations would have likely denounced it. Dartmouth’s Jewish community understandably would have had a similar reaction had the performer been wearing a tichel.
The event’s mockery of Catholic nuns is no more acceptable, and sadly it situates Dartmouth alongside an increasingly anti-Christian cohort of elite American universities: In 2022, leftist students mocked Christianity a number of times, including at prestigious universities like Duke, Harvard, and Stanford. Moreover, I doubt that Dartmouth would continue to fund and promote any organization that had openly ridiculed Islam, Judaism, or any other religion in a similar way.
I implore the House of Lewan’s founders, students Jaime Aranzabal and Richard Lai, as well as the club’s advisor, Dr. Sara Swenson, to extend Christians the same level of courtesy and respect in their programming that they would to other religion.
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.
Chloe Ezzo is a senior at Dartmouth College, where she studies French and math. She is the president of the Dartmouth Republicans and has been published in a number of outlets, including The College Fix and The Wall Street Journal.