Wealthy alums unfazed by Trustee Initiative

by Andrew Marnell | 11/18/99 6:00am

Major donations to the College may not be affected by the Trustee's Initiative on Social and Residential Life as three of the largest donors said their decisions to make future donations will not be influenced by the report of the steering committee to be released in January.

The individuals interviewed by The Dartmouth have funded some of the College's largest construction projects and said they are waiting to see the long term effects of the initiative but do not believe it will have a major impact on alumni giving to the college.

Fred Whittemore '53, who recently provided most of the funds for the new Whittemore residence hall at the Tuck School of Business, said he did not believe the overall level of alumni donations will necessarily decline as a result of the initiative.

"I hope we can come up with a program that will keep people donating," he said.

Bruce Rauner '78, who funded part of the renovation of Webster Hall into the Rauner Special Collections Library, said the Initiative will not really impact his future donations, although he thinks certain members of the Board of Trustees are using the Initiative to promote agendas he does not support.

"I think there are a few folks who are using [the Initiative] as a cover to eliminate fraternities and sororities," he said, stressing that he is a strong supporter of fraternities and sororities at Dartmouth.

Charles Collis '37 disagreed with Rauner's criticism and said he supports the Initiative.

"They're trying to help the students," he said. "They're not trying to take anything away from them. Something good will come out of it -- there's no doubt."

Collis donated several million dollars in 1992 to support the renovation of the Collis Center, a project he supported because it planned to provide a new social center for the campus and additional social options.

Rauner, Collis, and Whittemore all said they believe stricter alcohol policies may result from the initiative.

Whittemore said the College may create stronger alcohol policies than most students would support.

"There may have to be alcohol officers in fraternities or dorms," he said. Though he added "you're not going to stop people of college age from wanting to drink."

Collis was somewhat skeptical of the effectiveness of the potential measures.

"We had liquor when [I] went there and there will be liquor when our great grandchildren go there," he said. However, he added that he would support new regulations on alcohol.

Both Collis and Whittemore said they believe the changes will be gradual, and that students and faculty must be patient during the adjustment process.

Whittemore said that he believes the College must add additional social options in order for any new policies to be very effective.

Collis added that the process of change will be extremely slow, and that the Trustees and the College must be prepared for some changes not to work.

"I don't think they're going to do anything radical," he added.

The official name of the steering committee is the Trustee Committee on the Student Life Initiative.