Faculty Knows Best

by Chris Curran | 5/21/01 5:00am

In the latest reverberation of the Zeta Psi fraternity fiasco, the faculty of Dartmouth College voted 92-0 to reaffirm its opposition of single-sex Greek organizations. The statement reads, "Any single-sex or otherwise exclusionary social organization [is] antithetical to the educational purpose of the College and its mission to foster a diverse, egalitarian, co-educational student culture. The faculty of Dartmouth College reaffirms its previous votes that the College neither recognize nor materially support such organizations."

The faculty has vision. It knows what is best for us. And will this resolution lead to better living through social engineering? Absolutely. And to those who disagree: go back to swilling your beer in that oppressive, elitist, exclusive, hegemonic social system I'm told you inhabit. So there.

The faculty should be showered with praise for its leadership. I feel it is my duty though, to chide the faculty for not going far enough. Yes, they have taken a positive first step toward eliminating a scourge which prevents proper student socialization. But there is more to be done.

Unfortunately there are other challenges out there, in addition to the nasty Greeks, preventing us from achieving the utopian social system which the faculty have been courageous enough to propose. I direct your attention to the Decibelles, and to the evil of a capella music. These attractive vocalists are not as harmless as they might appear to the untrained observer.

I tried out for the Decibelles last fall. I was rejected. Some might say that the fact I'm male and sound like Bob Dylan with bronchitis had something to do with it. Those who believe this myopically choose not to see the harm that was caused by my rejection. Perhaps spending more time with the faculty would better their edification. When the Decibelles rejected me, they created a musician/non-musician/"other" socially constructed artificial distinction. By virtue of my gender, I was designated "other." I was humiliated and I felt demeaned. Clearly that alone is enough to prove a capella is a failed musical/social experiment that needs to be stopped before it destroys again.

The uneducated masses attend Decibelles shows and enjoy their music, all the while contributing to a sexist, elitist, imperialistic hegemonic social system. Worse, some faculty members have been known to attend their concerts and offer support. They should know better. Yet the College recognizes the group and often pays for them to sing. Will someone stop this?

Was my rejection inclusive on their part? Hardly. I sought to diversify their group and I was rebuffed. I was denied my equal social rights. They don't contribute to coeducation and should be destroyed. I can't believe this has gone on for so long! Clearly the student body cannot see what is best for it. A capella is impeding social progress! Am I the only one who thinks a capella is as "antithetical to the educational purpose of the College" as the Greek system? We need to condemn them as well.

I look forward to the day when the faculty is enlightened enough to confront this demon head-on. Students have proven to be unwilling to make unpopular changes. It's time for the faculty to take charge. I look forward to the day when our social system is as coed as the full-time faculty (32 percent female). I look forward to the day when Greeks are as diverse in political views as the faculty. I hope someday the Greeks are as racially diverse as our faculty (12 percent minority). Oh wait, the Greeks, as a system, already are.

The point is, the Greek system is already substantially coeducational by virtue of the option of coed houses, and by the similar numbers of men and women in the overall system. The Greek system offers unparalleled opportunities for dissent. One need only read the opinion page in The Dartmouth to see that there is no unanimity of opinion on any subject amongst its members. That doesn't seem to be the case for the faculty. Is the recent 92-0 vote evidence of a universal truth that the faculty has recognized, or is there a stifling of minority opinion among its members? I choose not to speculate.

I'm sure some will point out that individual houses are not coed and, in some cases, not particularly racially diverse. In fairness, neither is the Physics department. Both groups, Greeks and the faculty, can and should do more to reach out to those who have been traditionally excluded. But change should come from thoughtful reflection and open constructive debate. Ad hominem or blanket attacks, which do not acknowledge reform, are possible, but only leave opinions more polarized.

Resolutions like the one passed by the faculty do not make our student culture more diverse, egalitarian or coeducational. If anything, they make positive change more difficult by exacerbating existing tensions. Both the Greek system and a capella groups contribute to the diversity of social life at Dartmouth. Those who lob vitriolic attacks from the ivory tower of academe would do better to offer constructive criticism rather than pass politically correct, impotent resolutions.

Editorial note: Chris Curran did not really audition for the Decibelles