Faculty votes 81-0 to urge derecognition of Greek system

by Omer Ismail | 2/15/00 6:00am

Last night the faculty of the Arts and Sciences unanimously approved a resolution, voting 81-0 to urge the administration and Trustees to withdraw College recognition from all Coed Fraternity and Sorority organizations once additional living space is made available.

Recognizing that many Greek houses are independently owned, Associate Professor of Religion Susan Ackerman -- who moved the resolution -- told The Dartmouth that she hoped the houses would financially buckle without College support, if the administration accepts the faculty mandate.

Faculty members argued that the system is a discriminatory one that can not be reformed, and called senior College officials to make the construction of new residence halls -- which will enable the College to withdraw their support from Greek houses -- their highest priority to ensure the derecognition occurs latest by June 30, 2005.

Two faculty members abstained from voting on the resolution.

Problems with the system

Faculty members addressed a number of problems within the current Greek system.

Raising concerns that the CFS system is highly exclusive, professors argued that it does not conform but interferes, with the academic mission of the College.

The Greek system "stands so antithetical to our academic message of openness," Ackerman said.

Citing figures from the steering committee report which shows affiliated students tend to be mostly white and more affluent than other students, Ackerman called the system one of "power and privilege."

Faculty members also said the Greek system promotes excessive alcohol use which interferes with students' academic work.

Professor of History Mary Kelly said the number of students who have admitted to alcohol interfering with their schoolwork, to have blacked-out and to have taken part in "boot and rally" is disturbingly high.

'Substantial changes' not enough

Faculty members said that the "substantial changes" to the Greek system recommended in the steering committee report will not reform the residential and social life at Dartmouth. They argued the complete withdrawal of College support is necessary.

"The reality is that this is an unfixable institution," religion professor Kevin Reinhart said.

Professors argued that plans to reform the system have been undertaken previously, all of which have failed to improve Dartmouth's social life.

"Isn't it clear by now that reform has not and will not work?" comparative literature department chair Marianne Hirsch said.

Faculty members expressed concern that even if the Greek houses are able to achieve the stringent requirement set by the Initiative recommendations, Dartmouth's social problems will continue to exist.

Reinhart said ensuring that the Greek houses consistently maintain the standards will be a constant fight for the administration.

English professor Tom Luxon had other concerns, arguing that the recommendations are sending the wrong message to the CFS houses.

The administration is saying "that if they behave well enough, they can have the privilege of discrimination," Luxon said.

Other concerns

The faculty of Arts and Sciences unanimously supported the principles behind the first three recommendations of the steering committee report -- which call for the creation of a greatly enhanced residential cluster, other spaces and programs for general use and improving residential and social life for graduate students.

The faculty agreed the residential cluster should serve educational functions as well as recreational, dining and social purposes. Some said the educational spaces will improve the out-of-classroom experience and encourage student-teacher interaction.

Concern was raised about the costs of implementing the Student Life Initiative. However, College President James Wright assured the faculty that the Board of Trustees's decision on financing these changes "won't be at the expense of academic programs or the financial aid program."

Before deliberating on the steering committee report, Wright also informed the faculty about the Trustee meetings held over the weekend -- most notably the decision to increase the tuition fees by 3.5 percent for the 2000-2001 academic year.

The faculty voted 82-0 in favor of the Initiative last Winter term after the document's release.

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