GLSC calls for greater accountability

by Rachel Osterman | 6/29/01 5:00am

Students should have grade point averages of at least 2.30 to be in Greek organizations and the current social event monitoring policy should be revamped, according to the much-anticipated Greek Life Steering Committee report.

The report, a set of suggestions released yesterday after a seven-month committee process, will likely serve as a blueprint for administrators as the Student Life Initiative goes into effect. The committee was broadly charged with devising the implementation and practical aspects of the two-year-old Initiative.

But the committee was marred by repeated delays and disagreement among its 31 members. Some members said they never saw the final report before it was released and complained that their opinions seemed less important than the overarching decisions the College had already made.

While leaving significant room for details to be worked out, the report is clear that change in Dartmouth's Greek system has to begin sooner rather than later. "The committee recognizes that an instant solution does not exist," it says. But other facts "argue against more study and more rhetoric."

The report recommends a three-year timeline, to be effective this September, for its suggestions to go into effect. The next step will likely be campus discussions, to begin this summer, and more time for the policy to be fine-tuned and revised.

"The goal is to gain the widest possible opportunity for people to read the report and comment on it and give us their ideas and response on it," Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson said.

The report is noticeable in its call for more administrative involvement in Greek affairs.

It recommends that the Office of Residential Life help houses formulate and assess annual objectives, termed action plans. The failure to meet those plans can result in derecognition, according to the committee.

Contained in the action plans should be blueprints for incorporating volunteer work, academic life, inclusivity and an enhanced sense of community without hazing, the report says.

This summer will see the actualization of some of the committee's ideas, such as an assessment of the logistics of action plans and preparations for the first Winter term rush, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman said.

The report also recommends that alcohol be disassociated from house meetings.

"There was some genuine concern that was expressed that chapter meetings on Wednesday nights are nothing but a party," Redman said, explaining what he said was the logic behind the suggestion. "The idea is that a business meeting should be sober. You should separate business and a party."

Throughout the committee process, disagreements among members slowed the release of a final report and, it seems, never completely disappeared.

On Wednesday, five of the fifteen students on the committee wrote in the op-ed pages of The Dartmouth that they never saw nor approved a final copy of the report, and that they felt their views were not genuinely considered by the committee's leadership.

"We never had anything circulated to us saying, 'this is the final draft," Chris Hummel '01 said. "What I'm concerned about is us being used to rubber stamp things from above, from the deanery to the president's office."

Ryan Clark '01 added: "The committee was merely set up to give the impression of student involvement."

Part of the dispute seems to center on the lack of a clear process for deciding what suggestions would be included in the report. Committee members said there was no discussion about voting rules or what constituted a sufficient enough consensus to be in the report.

"There was very little discussion about how the committee would work," Hummel said.

Redman said he sometime observed a clash of egos in committee meetings and that the large size of the group often made agreement difficult to obtain.

"It was a long process, people got frustrated," he said. "For a committee this size, I think they did pretty well."

Some of the more sweeping recommendations were controversial within the committee itself, such as the minimum GPA requirement for Greeks.

"There was mixed sentiment in the working group itself about that," Redman said. "The majority of folks felt they wanted to say that academics are important and we don't want Greek commitment to hurt academics."

The report broadly calls for a reevaluation of the party monitoring policy because "the current social event monitoring policy is not working."

Redman explained the rationale behind the recommendation for revamping how party monitoring: "It's the more technical, logistical kind of stuff that doesn't seem to be working. So some group needs to sit down and look at it."

Asked whether the required input of ORL into the formation and evaluation of the action plans amount to an administration-dominated process, Redman said, "We don't want to be the sole arbiters of what's appropriate and what's not appropriate. But we're responsible for making sure it happens."

Another important feature of the report is its emphasis on Greek houses' membership recruitment. The committee recommends that organizations show proof of recruiting widely and visibly in order to increase inclusivity.

Redman said such suggestions were made, in part, because the Greek system needs to change its image in order to reform. "One of the perceived negative aspects is the lack of inclusivity and the selectivity on the other hand. There are a lot of realities and stereotypes that exist that need to be broken down."

The report is also noticeable in its emphasis on internal adjudication. While structures for member-to-member discipline are on the books, they are rarely used, the committee notes.

Along those lines, the report recommends that houses re-devise their internal adjudication processes and take more pro-active stances in addressing internal house issues.

"Often, members in groups don't know what the standards are. As a member, you should have a clear sense of what's involved in being a member. Whether that's paying dues or not being misogynistic and not breaking furniture," Redman said. "Internal adjudication boards can help strengthen, clarify."