In Bad Faith

by Robinson Hall | 6/25/01 5:00am

Administrators handed down a policy last Friday that both undermines the very Student Life Initiative objectives it purports to advance and fosters an atmosphere of distrust between students and College officials. The administration must now work to correct last week's mistakes.

We acknowledge Dartmouth's ability, as a private institution, to set whatever rules it sees fit for recognition of Coed Fraternity Sorority organizations. Such power, however, ought to be exercised with consideration for and in consultation with those whom such rules affect -- Dartmouth students and especially members of the Greek system and undergraduate societies.

Unfortunately, we see no evidence of either.

The questionable timing of Friday's announcement smacks of a policy created and delivered in bad faith. Given its announcement at 4 p.m. on a Friday, organizations had time neither to determine its practical consequences nor to further discuss the details of the policy with administrators during regular business hours. Delivered at the beginning of the Summer term to newly elected Greek leaders recently deprived of an organization to voice their objections -- and with only a quarter of the student body on campus -- the timing very effectively silenced student voice on the issue.

Furthermore, the policy itself was vague, neither enumerating the consequences of policy violations nor listing those situations that administrators later described as "exceptions" to the rules. The lack of student input seems to have been the source of many of the flaws, inconsistencies and omissions in the policy.

By giving College inspectors unfettered access to houses, many of which are privately owned and all of which are student-controlled, the edict infringes on students' privacy entitlements.

Greek houses are not dorms, and the implicit assumption that the two are synonymous provides a faulty basis for the elimination of privacy in the common spaces of CFS houses and undergraduate societies.

The issue here is not about beer pong, indoors or outdoors. The issue is whether the College will respect students' privacy and seek their opinions as promised in the SLI, or if it will continue on its course of contradiction and hypocrisy.

We encourage administrators to now prove that the decision was indeed conceived with good intentions by correcting the mistakes already made and working with campus leaders to develop mutually acceptable policies.