Strong turnout needed for Greek system referendum

by Tyler Newby | 11/3/93 6:00am

One week from tomorrow, a Student Assembly referendum will gauge the student body's opinion on a single sex Greek System. In reality, it will gauge the opinions of those who vote. This referendum will not result in changes to the current structure of the Greek system. However, by the number of students who participate, it will show how much students are interested in controlling the fate of their own system.

I admit that I advocate a system which includes a choice between co-ed houses and single sex houses. It is my belief that the present system allows the greatest freedom of choice for students. However, I am not writing this column to convince people to support one side or the other. I am writing, to encourage you to participate in directing the future of one of the College's largest student organizations.

In the future "Frat row" may become known as "Co-ed row." It may even happen within the next 10 years, as Dean of Students Lee Pelton and College President James Freedman have predicted. I will not try to predict the future, but if this scenario is the future of Dartmouth, I hope that it will be the result of student initiative, rather than administrative encroachment. To understand this theory, one must first look at the purpose of the Greek system.

Although it seems embarrassingly plain, fraternities and sororities exist because a large number of students want them to exist. Single-sex houses are run by the students and for the students. Their lifeblood is the student body, not the administration.

If over time, a majority of the student body decides that they don't want single sex houses, then they will not join these organizations. To maintain Dartmouth's phenomenal student satisfaction rate, the administration should let the contributors and users of the Greek system direct its course.

So what does all of this have to do with the referendum? I do not believe that this referendum will change the current Greek system. By comparing the size of the single sex houses, to the sizes of co-ed houses, it appears obvious that a majority of students still support single sex houses. Rather than being a vehicle for changing the current system, the referendum is a perfect opportunity for the student body to show that it wants to control the future of its own system.

Both Pelton and Freedman have announced on WDCR that the future of the Greek system should be up to the students. I respect them for these opinions, but keeping them to these promises is up to the students. A strong voter turnout next Thursday will show the administration that the student body wants to control the fate of its own social organizations. Voter apathy, on the other hand, would show that the students have no interest directing it.

Regardless of your opinion, please vote next Thursday. Tell administrators that we can direct the Greek system ourselves. Whether co-ed or single sex, it is a system that belongs to the students. Let's keep it that way.