What I Do Know

by David Morse | 11/17/99 6:00am

I am, as I am so often forced to tell the ubiquitous brother or sister at the door, a three. This makes me inherently dumb, insecure and prone to social faux pas. So of course there is no way I could have an opinion on the Greek aspect of the social initiative. And I have to admit that I really don't know where I stand on the future of the frats.

There are some things I do know. I know I enjoy going to Greek houses despite the occasional hassle at the door. I know that without the houses there wouldn't be a lot to do at Dartmouth. I know that, houses or no, pong and heavy drinking will probably be a part of the Dartmouth experience after I graduate. I know I like to have Hop fries and this chicken cheese tortellini concoction for lunch every day.

I know the administration is doing a poor job of selling this whole thing. They admittedly are fighting an uphill battle, but I know my parents aren't paying the big money to have that dynamic duo of Dentzer and Fahey "structure" their boy's social options. I guess Mrs. Dentzer got into journalism too late to hear Nixon proclaim that he was not a crook. She could have taken the lesson in verbal self-mutilation. That statement must raise the hackles of any independent, intelligent student, whatever their stance on the Greek system.

Not only did Dentzer hand the pro-Greeks a hefty club for use against her and her committee; she also discredited the Initiative as a whole. And from what I know of it, the Initiative as a whole doesn't sound devilishly evil.

Now, for all that, I don't know what a Greek-free Dartmouth would look like. It could be nice. Or it could be Williams. I don't know if it is worth messing with a basically good thing. But then I am not even sure if the Greek system is good. As stated above, I like the good times had at houses and I like the brothers I meet. Having a place to drink, cuss, spit and watch football with other men is appealing. But the chauvinism, elitism and racism I sense as latent in the system cry out for redress. Groups do naturally divide along lines of race and interest, but the Greek system encourages this negative trend. If I heard of efforts by the Greek houses to change, to be more inclusive and outreaching, my main reservation would be dropped. Unfortunately, everyone seems quite satisfied with a primarily uniracial system that encourages sexual misconduct and abuse.

I don't know what people wrote editorials about before the Initiative. I am not sure if it is hypocritical to denounce the Greeks and then frequent house parties. I understand the argument that there are no other social options, but by admitting as much don't the naysers admit that a post-Greek Dartmouth would be pretty dull? It seems such an absolute judgment should be backed up by absolute action.

I don't know if you can have a football team without a Greek system. I don't know if I care that much about the football team (sorry guys). I don't know if getting rid of the Greeks will significantly change the type of kid who comes to Dartmouth. I hope it doesn't, I like the people here, except for the jerks that steal books from reserves and the idiots who damage dorms and make us all pay fines.

I don't know what motivated this whole baring of Dartmouth's institutional soul in the first place. If President Wright acted from an altruistic vision for Dartmouth's future, more power to him. If he acted in response to trustee pressure, U.S. News polls and bad publicity then he acted wrongly. If the latter factors had anything to do with his decision, then the motivations behind the initiative become, in my mind, suspect.

There is one more thing I am pretty sure of. The discussion prompted by the initiative is good. I like the fact that Dartmouth is willing to question itself, to admit that things like racism and chauvinism are issues. I have to deviate from the party line to say that no tradition is set in stone and that every aspect of life here bears scrutiny. Whether this examination leads to change, I don't know. Ideally the results would depend on the majority opinion among the students. And even if that isn't the case, everyone should absolutely have a definite opinion on such a seminal, earth shattering issue. So I guess I had better conclude by falling to one side or the other.

Or not. After all, I am only a freshman.