AD panel criticizes frat impact on gender roles

by Reena Dutta | 11/15/00 6:00am

Another packed house filled Alpha Delta fraternity last night at a discussion on gender relations and the fraternity system, called "So What's the Problem?"

This is the second discussion at the house evaluating issues in the Greek system to draw a large crowd, after the first discussion "Don't Yell Faggot from the Porch" received an overwhelmingly successful rating.

During last night's event, a panel of students evaluated the Greek system and proposed solutions to the various problems of gender relations at Dartmouth.

The presentation began with a film called "Not Men at Dartmouth." This film looked at the role of women at Dartmouth as the College became coeducational. It consisted of various interviews with Dartmouth alumni during a time when Dartmouth was extremely hostile to women.

Most of the women interviewed said that Dartmouth was an unhealthy place for women. One woman related a story about how a fraternity brother brought a female cadaver to a fraternity party.

Another woman spoke about her experience with rape at the College. After the film, each of the panelists made opening statements, many of which dealt with the need to change the Greek system. Most panelists related a specific experience they had with the Greek system. Of these, the majority were negative.

One panelist, a member of Amarna, spoke of women he knew who had been treated badly at fraternity houses. An unaffiliated woman told of how some fraternity brothers would not speak to her after they found out that she did not belong to a sorority. Another panelist spoke of the prevalence of rape at the College.

After the opening statements, the discussion was turned over to the audience. One female student urged Dartmouth women to start standing up for themselves.

In response to this comment, a man said that he believed that women should stop allowing themselves to be objectified as sexual objects. He spoke of how he had heard many women complain about the fraternity systems, and yet, they continue to visit fraternity basements every weekend.

The next point raised dealt with younger women's vulnerability in dealing with the pressures of the Greek system. Many members of the audience felt that younger women could not stand up for themselves due to a lack of upperclass female influences. Another point of discussion dealt with the issue of fraternity brothers' often improper behavior toward women. Many audience members felt that a change in this behavior could only be accomplished through internal reflections within the fraternity systems itself.

An AD pledge noted that when men get together a "testosterone fest" occurs. He believed that men act differently in that type of situation than they normally would. He said that women must realize this difference.

This remark created a small stir among the female members of the audience. Many women refuted this statement by saying that a "testosterone fest" did not excuse the behavior.

Another important point discussed was the influence of the Student Life Initiative. An audience member spoke of the many protests resulting from the announcement of the Initiative. He said that the campus is resistant to change and felt that it needed to become more open to change if gender relations were to be improved.

The discussion concluded with audience members throwing out potential solutions to the problems discussed. These included presenting the "Not Men at Dartmouth" video at freshman orientation and creating more coeducational houses.