Empty beds must be filled
The College's recently released proposal to force Greek organizations and undergraduate societies to fill their houses before their members can get College housing is a wise step.
The plan should help alleviate the perennial housing crunch and does not place an unfair burden on the houses.
Last Fall term, more than 100 students were denied housing and many were forced to live off campus while 58 beds remained empty in Greek houses, of which 56 beds were in fraternities.
It is unacceptable to have empty beds on campus while students are forced to take leave terms because there is no available housing on campus or in Hanover.
The Office of Residential Life has two ways to assure that there are no empty beds in Greek houses or undergraduate societies. It can assign students on the wait list to the rooms or require that the houses fill the spaces with members.
If there is an empty bed in a house, it makes more sense to have a member of that organization fill it then a non-member.
Some house officers argue the proposal infringes on the rights of the organizations to use their space however they want and on the rights of their members to live wherever they want.
But this argument ignores the fact that the houses, College-owned or not, are members of the larger Dartmouth community. It is not unreasonable to ask them to fill their beds for the sake of that community.
According to Coed Fraternity Sorority Council President Matt Raben '96, most of the CFS and undergraduate society leaders agree with the proposal.
Raben and Panhellenic Council President Dani Brune '96 co-wrote a letter explaining their position on the proposal. "By helping to ease the housing crunch, we are contributing to the Dartmouth community," they wrote.
The proposal is not flawless. A problem may arise if not enough members want to live in their house to fill the beds. But this is not sufficient justification to leave the beds empty or to fill them with wait-listed students.
Some houses will require members to live in the house for a certain number of terms. Other houses will hold lotteries. But the houses have a responsibility to the community to fill those beds.
Under the new ORL proposal, those beds will be filled. But the houses will retain the freedom to decide themselves who will occupy them.