A Heart, A Brain and Courage

by Martin Dengler | 4/26/96 5:00am

Pay no attention to the council behind the curtain.

You can't start a column without a cliche, and it's harder still to avoid them entirely. Cliches that have pervaded the campus for at least this century continually involve the Greek system. There is seldom enough time or interest to delve beyond the sound bites and get at something resembling substance that describes the Greek organizations.

To get home, Dorothy had to look beyond what she was supposed to believe. Hanover certainly isn't Kansas anymore, and we face the same choice -- to look deeper or to believe the wizard. As president of the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council, let me pull back the curtain a bit for you. So what can we say about such a large community? With 1,600 students (no typo: sixteen hundred) affiliated with a coed, fraternity or sorority group, is it really possible to describe any shared common ground? After all, with 27 groups, what could define them all?

No. That's to the cynics who are now thinking "beer." Au contraire (I think it's funny that some vocal non-affiliates can't themselves keep the subject off their minds). And what else is there? That's the challenge that the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council took up around the end of last term. The campus, affiliated and non-affiliated, had been divided in the past year by issues concerning the CFS system. The council, made up of the presidents of the College-recognized CFS organizations and an executive board, realized that it needed to refocus on that question this term.

What did we come up with? How does it impact you? If you are a member or a non-member you will probably be participating in programming events that are sponsored by the CFSC or an individual Greek organization with this purpose in mind: "The Council shall be the student organization that unites the leaders of Dartmouth's CFS system into a proactive and, if necessary, reactive body . . . to encourage organizations to enrich the lives of their members through social, intellectual and service-oriented endeavors . . . the Council shall work to promote respect for all members of our Greek system and the Dartmouth community as a whole; the presidents sitting on the Council shall honestly commit themselves to this purpose in order to earn the respect of Dartmouth's students, administration and faculty and of the Hanover community."

So that sounds nice and all. Even better when you realize that this purpose passed unanimously -- I guess 27 organizations can agree on something, and if any other students from other organizations are thinking "we do that too," let's talk and see if we can work together on something. Blitz me (seriously).

But talk is cheap, and the council purports to be proactive now. The translation of the purpose of our Greek system into real, practical terms means: an advisory group within the Greek organizations designed to help all Greek societies maintain their commitments to "social, intellectual and service-oriented endeavors" and promoting respect for the Dartmouth community; it means a Webster Avenue non-alcoholic block party sponsored by every Greek organization to help Dartmouth celebrate 75 years of Green Key; it means a CFS Symposium in the fall to bring more discussion to the community; and it means a greater effort to find new ways to bring the sometimes separate parts of Dartmouth together.

The council has also made it a priority to work more closely with its sub-councils who deal in a more specific role with different CFS groups: the Inter-Fraternity, Panhellenic, National Pan Hellenic, and Coed Councils. The Inter-Fraternity Council with Mike Armstrong '97 at the helm has taken the responsibility to execute a first-year student survey, is totally rewriting its constitution and is revamping rush and the New Member Education series (put on every fall) to positively affect the social atmosphere on campus. The Panhellenic Council under Jessica Russo '97 is amidst creating a new sorority and has sponsored several informational sessions for underclasswomen to discuss questions regarding the Greek system at Dartmouth.

It would take a term's worth of columns to detail the other community service and programming events organized by the CFS system, but we'll give you some examples in a future column. Have you ever been asked the question that goes like "if you could wave a wand and change one thing about Dartmouth, what would it be?" As thinking students it is our responsibility to do more than be able to answer that question; we need to take it upon ourselves to execute a solution to the issues that most concern us. It's one thing to think about magical red shoes and going home; it's another thing to have to work for your heart, your mind and your courage. There are 27 presidents and 5 execs that dedicate a large part of their time to helping their members and the community as a whole towards that goal. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments about this glimpse beyond the curtain, blitz me.

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