This coming January, the Steering Committee will make a recommendation to the Trustees on the future of Dartmouth social life. Few are certain as to what that recommendation will entail, but everyone hopes that above all the recommendations are something that makes Dartmouth a better place for students in a way that students themselves enjoy.
Change in the social life at Dartmouth will be a good thing, provided it is the right kind of change. The greatest tragedy that could possibly happen at this college would be to implement a new plan for social life that the student body as a whole does not like and is not vested in. Sushi parties in the Choates could be a lot of fun for some people, but it's not for everyone. Regardless of what happens to the Greek system, the Initiative should not preclude innovative widely appealing social options from being a part of the new system.
What the administration thinks students should enjoy differs a bit from what students actually enjoy, and no matter how hard the administration works to encourage any particular brand of behavior, students will do the things that they themselves are most interested in. No one wants to see a drunk driving death result from people needing to go off campus for competitive social options. It would be negligence on the part of the College to allow that.
Former President James O. Freedman once cautioned on letting "the best be the enemy of the better." This sentiment is applicable now as we move forward in the debate on the Student Life Initiative. We cannot let an unachievable idealistic social life that students as a whole don't like be implemented over a more realistic social life change that students would actually enjoy and participate in. As we attempt to improve the social life here at Dartmouth, we cannot let realistic and pragmatic improvements be eschewed in the name of unworkable idealism.
The debate this past year has been foremost on the minds of students, who naturally have the most at stake in any future changes in their social lives. The passion and conviction with which students have been articulating their views speaks to the strength of their connection to Dartmouth and their lives here. It is this sense of place that makes this school unique amongst its peers, and it is this sense of place that we must be careful not to disturb as we tinker with our social life.