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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Don't Insult Me

When this whole thing crashed down over our shoulders last February, I was truly angry -- for a few days. When all the initial hubbub subsided and I became caught up in thesis-writing, life decisions, and senior year, I admittedly assumed that somebody else would take care of it, or that it would just take care of itself.

After graduation in June, my thoughts of the turmoil in Hanover became even more infrequent. It wasn't really until I started law school this fall, and people who went to other schools would ask me about the Greek system at Dartmouth, that I began to ponder once more about the fate of this system, that which I was a part of for three years.

I've been reading the recent editorials in the D. What strikes me most is that despite all this talk of 'eliminating the Greek system' or of 'changing Dartmouth', very few people have mentioned the fact that in eliminating this 'system', you strike at more than the organizations, more than this so-called system of houses, you are affecting people, students, your peers.

In her November 8th article, Janelle Ruley wrote, "Had the subject come up, I would have said to anyone that I think the Greek System should be eliminated completely and without hesitation." Well, then would she ever say to her friends, "I think that none of your experiences, memories, or bonds formed, while in the Greek system in your houses, are worth saving, are worth protecting?" I'm not sure that she could. I think that is the bottom line here.

There are those who think that they can express what they think Dartmouth's Greek system is all about. There are those who think they can write an article in the New York Times, and people will know, then, how we "Greeks" spent our time in college. I don't now, nor have I ever, felt I needed to defend my experience in my sorority by countering hazy nights by a pong table with some cozy image of girls gathered in the kitchen cooking brownies and discussing our latest intellectual epiphanies. I shouldn't have to justify to anyone, but myself, how I chose to spend my time in college. In supporting the "elimination of the Greek system", you are essentially saying that my experiences, whatever they were, were valueless.

Ms. Ruley says that it is "not her intention to negate her friends' experiences", but she should understand, that from my perspective, that is actually what she is doing. What right does she have to say that membership in a sorority somehow impacted my apparent [I say apparent because people claim to know exactly why I went to college] quest for excellence and constant intellectual stimulation?

What are the arguments here? If the Greek system remains, then Dartmouth will not realize its full potential. I am troubled by this idea that the trustees of this college have been able to pin the college's failings (if there are failings) on the Greek System. Notice, I have not said that the system is perfect. However, just because something isn't working perfectly, it does not naturally follow that this system must be disposed of. Yes, the social life at Dartmouth is rather one-sided. For those who think so, they should take action -- by adding social options. The idea that "Dartmouth's social life will only change if the Greek System is eliminated" is preposterous.

Are you suggesting that the Dartmouth Greek System is a monopoly, and since Friday Night Collis House Parties can't compete, the former should not exist?

I am angry with myself for ever feeling like if we worked really hard, maybe they would 'let us' keep our houses. If we somehow excepted ourselves from those 'other' systems, we might be able defy the Animal house images running through the media. "No", I used to tell people, "Dartmouth's sororities are just completely different. We aren't even really sororities." I should not have to compare my system with that of other universities, in order to defend my own. Ironically, I now find that I am often envious of my classmates here who went to schools with Greek systems that were powerful, so pervasive -- places we have difficulty even imagining ourselves in, places where many of these people define themselves by their affiliation. Why is that so awful?

Why is it so terrible that a Tri-Delt from Vanderbilt is excited that I'm a Tri-Delt from Dartmouth? Have I so greatly debased myself in allowing myself to become an 'affiliation'? Am I simply swimming in stream of barbaric mainstream anti-intellectual culture, which we in the enlightened Ivy League, think we are so much better?

No, I didn't go back to homecoming just to see my house, although I know many who did (and many more who never left their house the whole weekend). Neither my choice or theirs speaks to the value or longevity of the Greek System after we leave Dartmouth. No, I don't think I will stop coming back to Dartmouth if the Greek system does disappear.

I understand that change is inevitable. I simply wanted to throw in my two cents -- that it appalling to me that there could be such little regard for the people, those awful Greeks, who in the midst of this debate, are being so de-valued, and who are forced to defend something so basic as how and with who they choose to spend their time.