Committee to decide future of Greek life

by Rachel Osterman | 10/18/00 5:00am

After a selection process that lasted several weeks, the 13 students who will sit on the Greek Life Committee have been chosen, and they are decidedly in favor of continuing the Greek system.

While most of the nine affiliated and four unaffiliated student representatives contacted by The Dartmouth said the Greek system should undergo changes, few had any idea of what such changes should be other than that the administration better involve student leaders in the Initiative process.

At the same time, the majority of the students expressed an open-mindedness toward the committee's work, and said they are looking forward to a serious discussion on the future role of fraternities and sororities at the College.

The Greek Life Committee -- which has been broadly charged with the implementation of the Student Life Initiative as it relates to fraternities and sororities -- will meet for the first time later this week.

The committee is comprised of 25 members -- just over half of which are students. For an unusually large committee, it also has an unusually tight timeline: the committee's final recommendations are due to be released by the beginning of February.

Of the 13 student representatives, the nine affiliates were selected by the Coed Fraternity and Sorority Council, and the four non-Greek students were chosen by the Student Assembly.

According to those involved in the selection process, gender, age and racial diversity, as well as expressed open-mindedness, were the principle qualities considered in choosing who would sit on what is likely to be the most influential Initiative committee to date.

"We were looking for people who were willing to both listen and open their minds, who have a breadth of experiences, both social and activities," said Assembly Vice President Chance Hill '01, who headed the non-affiliated selection process.

Notably, the ratio of affiliated to unaffiliated students is nine to four. That, said Acting Assistant Dean of Residential Life Cassie Barnhardt, is because the committee will be examining the Greek system.

"This is about Greek life, so having a lot of Greek students is critical to getting to what the issues are for the average Greek member," she said.

The nine affiliated representatives include Dean Krishna '01; Christian Hummel '01; Liz Kleinerman '01; Craig McKay '97; Mia Yocco '03; Lauren Foley '03; Shihwan Chung '02; and Jim Colligan '02. The four unaffiliated students are Christina Lynden '04, Maggie Shnayerson '03, Megan Gleasor '02 and Jim Sitar '01.

In addition to Barnhardt, the faculty and administrators who will also sit on the committee are Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman, Asistant Dean of Residential Life Chris Chambers, ORL administrative assistant Ericka Gray, Assistant ORL Director of Physical Plants Bernard Haskell, Dean of the Tucker Foundation Stuart Lord, College Proctor Robert McEwen, English professor Donald Pease Jr., Assistant Dean of First-Year Students Leigh Remy, Alchohol and Other Drug Coordinator Margaret Smith, Russian professor Lenore Granoble and education professor Randall Testa.

Of the ten student representatives contacted by The Dartmouth, all but two said the Initiative unduly scapegoats the Greek system.

And most said the College's recent decision to remove permanent bars in Greek houses was an ineffective effort to curb alcohol consumption. While a couple said the move was well-intentioned, the majority thought the College should have no role in deciding such matters.

And of those ten students, none agreed with the current moratorium on Greek houses. While all the representatives agreed that there is no need for more fraternities, they all believed that female students would benefit from a seventh sorority to eliminate the current space crunch.

The representatives were more mixed on such issues as alcohol, hazing and disciplinary policy.

A little less than half of the ten students said that the recent discipline exercised over Phi Delta Alpha and Psi Upsilon fraternities was merited, while the rest said that the punishments were efforts by the administration to set unnecessarily harsh examples.

With regards to the right of the CFSC to regulate its own judicial policy and discipline its members as the body sees fit, a few of the representatives said the CFSC should exercise full authority, most said that there should be a collaborative process with the College, and one said only the administration should decide such matters.

Similarly, about half of those contacted thought the College should draft and enforce a more stringent hazing code, while the other half thought that individual houses are successful in curbing such peer pressure.

Not surprisingly, the committee representatives who are currently members of Greek organizations expressed more skepticism toward the Initiative.

"I think the Initiative is, in some ways, very anti-Greek," said Chung '02, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. "I think it pins a lot of things on the Greek system, like alcohol and diversity issues that I think the Greek system should not be blamed for."

He continued, "But I think there are a lot of good things, like the College providing more options, and making the Greek system become stronger."

Overall, the unaffiliated students had different opinions.

"I've had the opportunity to see the good aspects and the bad aspects of the system. In my view, the good aspects of the system are important enough to be kept. But the bad aspects are disturbing enough to be reviewed," said Shnayerson '03, who is also a reporter for The Dartmouth.

She said positive components of the Greek system include enhanced community, and that the negative components include hazing and inappropriate behavior.

"But we can't blame institutions for the actions of some individuals," Schnayerson continued.

Meyer, Gleason and Kleinerman were not available for comment.

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