In referendum, vote is 'yes'; 80 percent of voters support single-sex Greek organizations
Students voted overwhelmingly in support of the continued existence of single-sex Greek houses in yesterday's Student Assembly-sponsored referendum, but groups on both sides of the issue are claiming victory.
Eighty percent of the students who voted answered yes to the question: "Do you support the continued existence of single-sex fraternities and sororities at Dartmouth? Yes or no?"
Because a majority of the student body is Greek-affiliated, many administrators and student leaders expected a strong yes-vote.
The Assembly will use the referendum results as part of a report on the Greek system to the Committee on Student Life, which is comprised of students, professors and administrators.
Assembly Vice President Steve Costalas '94, a member of Kappa Chi Kappa fraternity and the author of the referendum question, said the results are a strong reaffirmation of support for single-sex Greek houses at Dartmouth.
"This is great day for Dartmouth," Costalas said. "This is the reason we were elected -- to tell the Trustees what Dartmouth students really think, and no one is better equipped to do that than Dartmouth students."
Costalas spoke over the din of students in his room who burst into cheering and hoots of joy after learning of the results.
Costalas said the strong support for single-sex Greek houses closely mirrors the results of student elections in the spring, when previous Assembly leaders calling for the examination of a mandated co-ed Greek system were swept out and replaced by students who pledged support to the Greek system.
"People realize that a choice is necessary," Costalas said. "They want to be able to choose their social options."
But students who campaigned against single-sex organizations said last night that the 20 percent who voted no in the referendum demonstrates a need for more dialogue.
"This is a moral victory for us," said Sean Donahue '96, "considering that only 30 percent of the campus is non-Greek, the question was stacked against us, they had more money and more resources of every kind and a year ago, the Conservative Union at Dartmouth asked the same question in a poll and got a 5 percent response for our side."
Chris Carson '95, who also voted no in the SA referendum yesterday, said, "Despite all the things stacked against the no-vote, the 20 percent is a real victory for dialogue. A lot of students want to see the system changing."
Carson said he spoke with many students who said they did not vote because they do not want complete abolishment of single-sex houses, but also did not want to endorse the current Greek system without being able to suggest the need for reform.
Throughout the past week, two groups used posters and electronic mail messages to try to convince students to vote for their side.
Jim Brennan '96, who spearheaded the Vote YES! campaign, said he was very pleased with the results.
"It is just a sweeping victory," he said. "Student sentiment was voiced on this issue, and it was decidedly pro fraternity and sorority."
The Assembly will now continue to gather data for their report to COSL, Costalas said. There will be nine discussions in the next two months about the future of the Greek system.
Costalas said the results will not be used by the Assembly to try to stop reform in the Greek system. Instead, he said the results are a mandate to the Assembly to allow room for single-sex houses in a changed system.
"The Assembly is committed to working for changes to make the system better," he said.
Assembly President Nicole Artzer '94 said she was pleased with the turnout of 1,789 students -- about half of the students currently on campus.
"It shows a lot of people are concerned with voicing their concerns," she said. "I hope students can carry it through debates and discussions."