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The Dartmouth
February 25, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Berk plans Initiative panel for alumni

Office of Student Life Intern and outspoken opponent of the Greek system Ben Berk '00 is organizing and moderating a panel of six undergraduates that will present views on the Trustee Initiative to an Alumni Council sub-committee on December 2.

Dean of Student Life Holly Sateia said she asked Berk to select a cross-section of students who have varying opinions on the Initiative. The panel will include two affiliated students -- Alpha Kappa Alpha member Emily Anadu '00 and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity President Thad Glowacki '00 -- and four non-affiliated students -- Lauren Foley '03, Peter Jacobsen '00, Gerald Lam '01 and Amee Patel '00.

According to Berk, as a moderator, he will not in any way control what other people say, but will rather pose questions to the panel and focus discussion. He added that the six students will do the majority of the speaking.

The forum will serve as an opportunity for the Alumni Council to gain student feedback on the Initiative. The Council serves as the official link between alumni and the College and gives input to the administration on a wide variety of issues

The Council's Committee on Student Life -- which will hear the panel -- is comprised of alumni interested in the future of student life issues at the College. The group meets biannually, and their meetings often include a student presentation.

"I'm fully confident [Berk] is capable of putting together a balanced panel with a variety of perspectives," Sateia said.

Recently, Berk's opinion of the Greek system has been widely publicized. Berk and four other seniors were featured in a November 1 article in The Dartmouth entitled "Students rally against CFS system."

The article included comments from Berk calling for the elimination of the Greek system, which he said instills an anti-intellectual, apathetic attitude on campus.

"In several ways, the Greek system institutionalizes a mindset that there is nothing to do except play pong, boot and rally," he said.

Regarding his beliefs, Berk said his viewpoint will not have an influence on the panel nor affect his ability to facilitate the discussion with people holding other opinions.

Berk said he believes every student has an individual perspective on the Initiative, and the panel is a group of students who will bring unique perspectives on campus life and the Initiative.

Sateia said she thinks Berk is able to have an explicit opinion and capably perform the job of moderation.

"I don't have a problem [with Ben] moderating the discussion. He can present a balanced picture and there will be varying views present on this panel," Sateia said. The audience "is not going to hear a 30 minute speech from Ben."

Past panel presentations have been arranged by a Student Life intern, whose duties include assembling a cross-section of students speaking about a timely topic of interest to the Alumni Council, such as the Initiative.

According to Sateia, the panel idea was conceived at a much earlier date this fall, before Berk made his opinions on the Greek system public.

Berk and Daudeline Meme '00, the other Student Life intern, divided up their projects at the beginning of the term. Berk's intern duties are more general in nature while Meme's tasks focus on mediation.

The panel is scheduled December 2 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. but is only open to the Alumni Council. Sateia said that previous panels for the Council have attracted an attendance of 20 to 30 members.