Teasing, cutting jokes, and pranks were part of the culture of the exclusive private Cranbrook School for boys north of Detroit when Mitt Romney was there in the 1960s.
So were high academic demands, athletics, and a certain naive camaraderie, say members of the class of 1965 who were interviewed by The Blade.
Young Romney, the current presumptive Republican candidate for president, was part of it all.
The men who went though the school with Mr. Romney recalled him not as the most outstanding member of the class, rather just as one of the boys.
A recent Washington Post report documented an incident in which Mr. Romney, as a senior, led a group of other young men in pinning down a younger student in a dorm room and cutting off a shock of his newly bleached blond hair that hung in his face.
Fellow students reached by The Blade said they never heard of the incident and were convinced it happened only because they trust their four classmates who attested to it on the record.
That is essentially the same assessment drawn by Ben Snyder, who was the school's assistant headmaster in 1965. Now retired in Falmouth, Maine, Mr. Snyder said he was unaware of the incident but said he considers students who reported the bullying episode to be trustworthy. "I knew three of the four quite well and they were some of the best kids we had in those days," Mr. Snyder said.
If any Cranbrook faculty would have known about it, it would have been Mr. Snyder, who was chairman of the discipline committee in 1965.
"Given the nature of discipline at the school at the time, it could have brought either suspension or dismissal. It would not have been taken lightly," Mr. Snyder said.
He said the discipline problems in Mr. Romney's class, which had between 65 and 70 students, usually involved drinking and smoking.
Mitt Romney, center, participated in the glee club
If an infraction was reported, a hearing would be held, with resident students represented by a housemaster and day students by a teacher.
"They would be given every right to represent their position and after we finished the discussion, we would decide what the punishment would be and hand it up to the head of the school, who had the right to accept it or modify it," Mr. Snyder said
Mr. Snyder, who served at Cranbrook from 1948-1990, said the term bullying "had not become fashionable" in the 1960s, but any time a problem arose "you would take the culprit to task, and they would realize they had done the wrong thing and had to pay a price."
Robert Sandoe, Cranbrook's headmaster from 1965-72, said he was never informed of any bullying incident involving Mr. Romney. Interviewed at his home in Fort Myers, Fla., Mr. Sandoe, 87, said the school did not have a policy on bullying while he was there.
"Nobody was even thinking about it. There was no bullying and no bullying policy," he said. "One of the nice things about Cranbrook is the kids are nice."
His wife, Frederica Sandoe, described it as "a very orderly school. Everybody wore coats and ties and behaved themselves. Cranbrook was a conventional school founded by someone who wanted a school in the English manner."
She said Mr. Romney was "a well-liked kid, academically good, athletically good. Everybody liked him. We knew his parents very well. And no,
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