REPORT RECOMMENDS DRASTIC CHANGES TO GREEK SYSTEM

by By Jen Taylor and Debbie Bernstein | 1/10/00 6:00am

The long awaited steering committee report, released this morning, recommends drastic changes to the College's Greek system to bring it in line with the Board of Trustees' vision for student life.

While a single-sex Greek system would remain intact -- at least for now -- the steering committee's recommendations make good on College President James Wright's promise to end the Greek system "as we know it."

In addition to the report's demand for major changes in the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council system, it also recommends the implementation of a common house residential system, an experimental freshman-only housing option and much more stringent campus-wide alcohol regulations.

The steering committee recommends CFS houses be held to stricter facility, organizational and membership requirements -- admitting that not all houses will be able to fulfill the requirements, and therefore will be derecognized by the College.

The report states, "This reduction is desirable in order to eliminate the historical dominance by the CFS organizations of Dartmouth social life."

"The selective social organizations of the future will constitute a very different, higher quality but secondary component of the overall Dartmouth social system," the report says.

More immediate recommendations include the renovation of house basements into general purpose or study space, such as kitchens or computer clusters. All refrigerator units and tap systems would have to be removed prior to September 2000.

Housing in a CFS building would not be allowed during the Summer term and would be reserved only for seniors and four junior officers over the course of the rest of the year.

The report also states the majority of the committee determined that even with substantial changes, the CFS organizations "should probably not be residential over the long run."

It says single-sex organizations should form formal affiliations with coed houses or single-sex houses of the opposite gender.

Should houses fail to meet College requirements, independently owned houses would have the option to negotiate with the College for Dartmouth's purchase of the house. It would then be renovated for use as a senior, coed housing option.

Rush would be moved to the Winter term of sophomore year, under the committee's recommendations. There would no longer be a pledge period and stricter definitions of and penalties for hazing are called for.

The CFSC judiciary system would be eliminated, and infractions -- including those that violate the Principle of Community -- would be judged by a College judiciary system, and be grounds for derecognition.

Due to the committee's concern for the widespread acceptance of "booting and rallying" and games such as "beer pong," the committee recommends much stricter alcohol policies than what are currently in place.

Registered parties will have to be served by non-student bartenders, and are restricted to the first floor of fraternity houses.

Detailed house budgets recording purchase of alcohol will be given to the College to end the "undesirable and hypocritical" practice of off-the-books purchases.

The committee suggests academic measures -- such as Thursday morning exams and more demanding course requirements -- be implemented by Dartmouth's faculty to cut down on recreational drinking.

The system is subject to complete review in 2005 -- as are all the implemented changes that result from the Initiative -- and Dean of the College James Larimore has the authority to recommend the removal of the entire Greek system at any point over the next five years, should he view the system as failing to meet new requirements.

Under the recommendations, included in a house's membership must be sexual and alcohol abuse peer advisors, a Tucker foundation liaison and a student devoted to diversity and leadership training. Also living in a CFS house would be a non-member Undergraduate Advisor.

Residential life

While the CFSC system is fundamentally changed, other aspects of the report focus on improving ideas that are already in existence at the College, although steering committee co-chair Trustee Susan Dentzer '77 called the residential life changes "the centerpiece of our proposal."

Dentzer said the changes will "take the best of the old Dartmouth forward into the new century" and create "a system where people will feel at home in their residence halls."

The committee recommends 350 new beds, two new clusters and expanded social space and decompressed rooms in existing clusters.

New cluster organizations would include more UGAs and student-run Cluster Council governing boards, as well as additional non-student staff.

Freshmen, whether they live in experimental freshman-only housing in the River and Choates, or the mixed-class residence halls, would be affiliated with a cluster upon matriculation.

Students should have the opportunity to live in their cluster throughout the end of junior year, and special housing for seniors -- such as Maxwell/Channing Cox apartments or new town houses -- would be available.

Recognizing the importance of centralized dining to the College culture, the report recommends the expansion of Thayer Dining Hall and licensed alcohol vendors to cut down on the need for students to drink in CFS houses.

The report calls for new arts and recreation space as well as graduate student housing and a graduate student center.

The report also calls for a review of senior societies and affinity house programs.

A World Cultures Initiative would be created and represent "a commitment by the College in the form of permanent staffing, funding and space to continuously provide enriching programming for the benefit of the entire community."

Views on the College

While the bulk of the report is specific recommendations for change, the document includes an introduction summarizing the steering committee's values and vision for the College, as well as Dartmouth's current strengths and weaknesses.

Calling its new vision "idealistic but achievable," the steering committee said it asked itself what defines the "Dartmouth way."

Above all, the College "should be a place where learning is paramount," diversity is stressed and students are offered broad freedom in social and residential options.

While the committee admits surveys elicit high response levels of student satisfaction, it says a significant number of students find the College uncongenial and "extremely intolerant of pluralism."

Social life worries -- especially over the Greek system -- keep highly qualified admitted candidates from selecting Dartmouth, the report states, and negative perceptions about the College discourage minority applicants.

Especially in the case of the CFS suggestions, the report lists the more extreme views on change that did not explicitly become recommendations. The report does say that some members of the steering committee questioned the need to keep any vestiges of the current Greek system.

The Greek system's dominance "creates a psychic divide and a pervasive sense of two cultures at Dartmouth: the affiliated and unaffiliated," the report states.

The steering committee worries both about polarizing incidents such as the Fall 1998 "Ghetto Party," and the CFS system's dominance on the campus which it believes stifles more creative social options that better fit with Dartmouth's academic values.

Inside the committee

In an interview with The Dartmouth this morning, committee co-chair and Trustee Peter Fahey '68 said undesirable incidents involving the Greek system "did have some influence" on the committee.

He also said that the members "came into the committee with their own assumptions" and "remained a diverse committee going out."

He said that no one member would have written the report as it is, but that all could agree on its final outcome.

The report consists of compromises among different groups on the committee.

Fahey said one example of this was the recommendation that the Greek system remain residential for now -- at least in a modified form -- but must demonstrate its positive attributes or face the more drastic options recommended by some members of the committee.

While Trustee Chair William H. King Jr. '63 said the timetable for the full Board's votes on the recommendations will be determined by the amount of discussion the report generates, Wright said he still hopes some decisions will be reached this Spring term.

The report is available in full on the Internet, as well as in hard copy in the Collis Center, Thayer Dining Hall, the Rockefeller Center and the Hopkins Center. Executive summaries have been put in every student's Hinman Box.

Tonight, discussions on the report will be held in academic and public buildings, residence halls and CFS houses from 7-8:30 p.m.

A town meeting will be held in Collis Commonground from 9-11 p.m.

Wright, Larimore and steering committee co-chair Trustee Peter Fahey '68 will lead a fireside chat at the Top of the Hop tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

The steering committee is formally known as the Committee on the Student Life Initiative.

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