Frats fight for survival
The Dartmouth, on Monday, reported an assault that occurred in Psi Upsilon early Saturday morning. Thatcher Wine '94, the president of Psi U declined to comment because the incident "did not involve the fraternity."
Well Thatcher, you are wrong. The incident involves your fraternity and the entire fraternity system. The Greeks at Dartmouth have an image problem that only worsens when a violent, bloody beating is swept under the rug.
This image problem is cumulative and has been building over the years. Much of the anti-Greek sentiment has been fueled by audio and video-tape recordings smuggled out of Greek houses.
But perhaps the greatest contributor to this problem of image was the September 17, 1992 issue of Rolling Stone. It was a special college issue with Bill Clinton on the cover. It hit the newsstands right as I was making some last minute purchases to prepare for my freshman trip.
Being interested in both Bill Clinton and college I had no choice but purchase that journal of all that is supposed to be cool. Busy with preparations I didn't get a chance to read the magazine until the 20-hour car trek from Illinois to New Hampshire.
That was when I discovered that the highlight of their "College Special" was an article about the drunken debauchery that occurs at Dartmouth fraternities and more specifically at Animal House itself: Alpha Delta. For the first time ever I began to have second thoughts about my college choice.
These factors combine to form a general picture of the fraternity system. The results are powerful. Some people on campus seem to summarily condemn anyone who is involved with a Greek organization.
However, the student body is not the only sector of the campus population that is aware of the Greek image. The administration and the Trustees are deeply concerned. By bringing the independent fraternities back into the fold, Dean Pelton displayed where the true power lies. More than anything the administration is concerned with the Greek influence on the image of the College.
The College is going to do everything in its power to ensure that Dartmouth is not seen by the rest of the world as a pack of bat-wielding drunken fools.
Taking all this into account we see that the problem facing fraternities is more than one of image, it is the problem of survival. In such a serious battle, clear, decisive action is needed.
It is not enough for the president of Psi U to distance his fraternity from the violent actions of early Saturday morning. He must show that his fraternity is as appalled as everyone else. It is stupid to protect a brother at the expense of the whole fraternity system.
It is crucial that Greeks recognize two facts. The administration is concerned with image: the image of fraternities and the image of the College. Second, they must realize that the best way to change their image is through real, substantial action.
The Greeks had better be ready for an uphill battle because it is a battle for survival. The image problem they face is going to continue to be a battle against such diverse foes as Rolling Stone Magazine and brothers with bats.