Spring brings calmer Greek opposition

by Brad Russo | 4/8/99 5:00am

Angry rallies from the Psi Upsilon fraternity porch, bitter protests during Winter Carnival and biting posters hanging from fraternity windows characterized the immediate aftermath of the Trustees' surprising social and residential life initiative announcement last term.

But so far this term opposition seems to be much more subdued -- and out of the public eye. While some of the lessening of outcry may be attributed to the passage of time since the initial announcement, it also seems to reflect a change in strategy for the Greek system, shifting from campus rallies to internal efforts.

Many of the Greek leaders who spoke to The Dartmouth said their house memberships are engaged this term in intensive letter-writing efforts to inform house alumni of the events on campus and solidify their support.

Sigma Nu fraternity President Michael Orchowski '00 said his brothers are involved in every stage of his house's letter-writing campaign.

"We are trying to get brothers and recent alumni to explain what's going on and get as much support as we can," Orchowski said. "These are personal letters ... Each person has gotten 20 addresses and writes personal letters to each one."

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is taking a more formal approach to the letter campaign. Sig Ep President Andy Louis '00 said "there should be a letter going out to our alums from the director of our national fraternity."

Louis said this is the second letter his national leadership has sent. The first was addressed to College President James Wright as well and requested a meeting with him. "Our executive director has had no response that I know of in response to that request for a meeting."

Yale Dieckmann '00, president of Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity said his house's "biggest thing is mobilizing our alumni." After a meeting with the Chi Gam corporate board, Dieckmann said a letter was sent to alumni asking them to contact administrators they know with opinions on the initiative.

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority President Paige Perry '00 said her house is planning on contacting their alumni and "possibly setting up an alumni fund that they can contribute to instead of the school."

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity President Thad Glowacki '00 said his house is also working with its "alumni network."

"We have been drafting a letter that will be sent to all alumni explaining to them the sentiment on campus and our feelings and the progress the Greek leadership has made," Glowacki said. "We're going to look to them for both written support ... and potentially financial support, if necessary, to fund any events we feel necessary to put on to further our efforts."

What those further events might be is still unclear. Psi U fraternity President Teddy Rice '00 told The Dartmouth he is "talking with someone from [Alpha Delta fraternity] about doing something for Green Key." While he said they are still discussing what form the event will take, he said he thinks "it's still important" for the campus to have "one more big demonstration."

Other leaders told The Dartmouth they believe Green Key weekend will occur normally, with none of the interruption of Carnival. Coed Fraternity Sorority Council President Jaimie Paul '00 told The Dartmouth students should expect to see more non-alcoholic programming during Greek Key, but that none of the usual Greek events will be affected.

This goes together with another element of an emerging "stage two" in the Greek opposition plan -- subtle self-improvement.

Dieckmann called this the "indirect response" to the social initiative. He said his house as well as the entire system is pleased to conform to the new programming standards passed at the end of last term which increases nonalcoholic and coeducational programming.

Orchowski said Sigma Nu is "focusing on the minimum standards review and hoping to get the best grade we can" so when administrative leaders look at the houses they will see the best possible product.

Similarly, Rice said Psi U is stepping up community service involvement and providing more programming options "to put their best foot forward" for the Trustees.

The CFSC is also working on a forthcoming proposal to the Social and Residential Life Task Force on how it thinks the initiatives should be enacted, but Paul said some of the ideas in the proposal are changes that the CFSC will make on its own. While she declined to specify what changes might be, she said they will most likely be implemented in stages and some might affect future rush periods.

This coming Fall Rush will be a big test for the fraternities, sororities and co-ed houses, with many questions still swirling about whether or not the Class of 2002 will pledge in typically high number even with the Trustees' five principles looming.

Rice, for one, thinks they will. "We are, like many of the other houses, very psyched about getting a good '02 Class next year. I think it's important that the houses keep the '02s with a vested interest in the system."

Saying "no one wants to divorce themselves from the social system just because there's a possibility it might be changing," Rice said he believes the initiative will actually result in a "bigger rush than normal."

Dieckmann said he too believes Fall Rush will have stronger numbers than usual. Calling the decision to rush even with the end of the Greek system as we know it on the horizon "the honorable thing," Dieckmann said, "I hope the '02s might be more excited because they know they might be the last class to rush ... There are also the '02s who want to get into the Greek system to help fight for it."

While many of the Greek leaders The Dartmouth spoke with said there has been a general calming on the issue because there are still no concrete issues to fight against, others have said affiliated students returning to campus after a leave term in the winter have rejuvenated feelings of opposition and frustration.

And as more definitive plans are announced, some leaders said the same strong outward displays of emotions displayed last term will be seen once again.

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