Create a New Sorority

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 5/24/95 5:00am

The College should commit itself to establishing gender equity in its social system and creating a new sorority would be a good start.

Dartmouth's social system, in particular the Greek system, currently offers more opportunities to men than women, while membership in sororities is bursting at the seams. There are more than twice the number of single-sex fraternities as sororities, yet there are roughly equal amounts of students in each system.

Before the College takes any steps to rectify this problem, it should develop a master plan for attaining gender equity in the social system.

Dean of the College Lee Pelton, Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco and Assistant Dean of Residential Life Deb Reinders should develop such a blueprint for the future of Dartmouth's social organizations.

Creating a new sorority is only a short-term solution to a long-term problem. As the former presidents of five of the College's six mainstream sororities noted in a recent letter, although Dartmouth has integrated women fully into every aspect of campus life in only 23 years, the social system still remains dominated by men.

In a recent interview with The Dartmouth, Turco said she thinks the College needs to take a hard look at gender equity in the Greek system. "I think if the College chooses over time to sustain and reform the Greek system, it must address the question of sex equity," Turco said. "I've spoken with male and female leaders in the Greek system and they agree that something has to be done about sex equity in the Greek system."

According to the former presidents' letter, the average sorority membership is 106 women. In contrast, the average fraternity membership is significantly lower, and some of the smaller houses have fewer than 30 members.

The large size of sorority memberships makes it difficult for women to develop a close-knit organization where everyone has a voice. The small number of houses also prevents women from having as many opportunities for leadership as men.

Perhaps most importantly, the creation of another sorority would help even out the social space on campus. Currently, men dominate more than 60 percent of the total social space.

There are a number of small fraternities that continually have low membership and have trouble filling their houses. The two undergraduate societies are flourishing and it is only a matter of time before students wish to create additional ones.

The College needs to consider all of these issues and develop some sort of policy for the future. When that policy is finalized, the College should share it with the student body.

There is widespread student support for the continued existence of the Greek system, but most students agree the system needs to be reformed.The creation of a new sorority would be the first step toward achieving gender equity, one of the most needed reforms in the Greek system.

There is a demand among College women for a new sorority and this demand should be met. But before the College attempts any reform, it should have some sort of plan for attaining gender equity.