It's Human Nature!

by Dan Galemba | 11/5/99 6:00am

Okay, so I'm sitting here in a Freshmen Council meeting, having a blast and an excuse to procrastinate. But then I think, "Wait a second, this is Freshmen Council. Isn't that a little discriminatory against the other classes?"

Then I go to an Aires concert and have a blast and an excuse to procrastinate. But then I think, "Wait a second, isn't this discriminatory against both girls and people who can't sing?"

Then I go to a dance party at the Native American House on Halloween. As usual, I have a blast, but then I think, "Wait a second, this is the Native American House--I bet they don't ordinarily house people with different ethnic backgrounds."

Oh, and then I go to a Hillel meeting. Have a blast, etc, etcyou get the drill by now. And then I think to myself, "Wait a second, I bet there aren't many Catholics that join Hillel."

Let's see, there are other places I've seen around campus. Aquinas House. Cutter Shabazz. Lambda Upsilon Lambda. Before you throw down the paper, I do have a point. There are lots of different kinds of people at Dartmouth, and there are lots of activities or organizations they can join to be with people with the same backgrounds and interests. People are proud of what makes them unique, as they should be, and one of my favorite things about Dartmouth is the diversity and the exposure I've had to so much I've never seen before. Here we are, a collection of so many different people just plopped down in the middle of nowhere, all attending the same great place. Take a step back for a second and appreciate it.

No matter which way you slice it, the fact that we're all here together doesn't keep people from keeping in touch with what makes them unique. And no one thinks twice about it, about how each and every ethnic organization, varsity sport, performance group, you name it are by their very definition exclusive. It can and should be no other way. We take it as a fact of life that we can't just play for the football team, sing for the Aires, live at NAD, because it is a fact of life. It's human nature to associate based on similarities.

Yet, if you look at number three of the five principles, you will see that "the system should be substantially coeducational and provide opportunities for greater interaction among all Dartmouth students." So we say goodbye to the frats because they're too exclusive. Does that mean we should say goodbye to every other group of any kind on campus and have everybody just thrown together in one big crazy Dartmouth stew?

So I'll see a group of Tri-Kap or Sigma Nu pledges (noticing some significant ethnic diversity among them), all bonding and having a great time, and think "if the frats are uniting people in a different kind of bond, but nevertheless a common one, how are they any different than any of those other groups?" Why should being co-ed matter in this case if ethnicity, religion, ability, or even being co-ed doesn't in almost every other group you see? Why should the frats be treated any differently for their exclusivity than any of the many exclusive entities on campus that everyone accepts? Especially when, in the realm of social life, they often open their doors to the campus at large, maintaining the bond of brotherhood among themselves to have a place to which they belong, just as everyone else has some place to which they belong based on unique characteristics.

And this becomes even more pertinent when you're not allowed to rush until sophomore year anyway. You take in the campus, then see what a frat could offer to add to the experience. You don't immediately limit yourself to the frat. On the other hand, I can think of so many people who joined other exclusive clubs their first year and spend most, or at least a significant chunk, of their time with those groups. No time to experience the campus as a whole, just instantly exclusive. And no one says a word because it's the just way things are.

So maybe I'm missing something here. But it seems to me that if people are allowed to associate exclusively based on any trait or ability you can think of, why should frats suddenly get punished for being exclusive? Exclusivity is a way of life. It's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination and it usually provides for the development for relationships beyond what can be provided when everyone's lumped together. And the frats provide a perfect example without even being the most exclusive organizations on campus. Get rid of the nature of humankind to associate based on similarities and common bonds, and then start thinking about getting rid of the frats.

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