Too Idealistic? Think Again

by Mark Lawley | 5/13/02 5:00am

In this column, I defineThe Money as money Dartmouth has previously spent on expensive social events that only a few attend (Bad-@$$ party immediately comes to mind). This is money that might have been wasted on building more libraries, raising helpful alumni cash or a fund that Dartmouth could have set aside for social life. Perhaps The Money doesn't exist right now, but if we put our minds to it, The Money will materialize here and there.

I've had some fun dates, made a few friends, I feel comfortable alone, can do outdoor stuff and I've been with my girlfriend since the beginning of last Spring term. All in all, I think the social life at Dartmouth is pretty good -- but then again, I never drink, and there are people who are unhappy with the social scene. Just look at how the lovely Katie Greenwood expressed her dissatisfaction in The Dartmouth last term. More evidence of disappointment can be found in other publications on campus.

Here follows a radical but workable solution (drastic action is called for, right?) to improve Dartmouth's social life. Yes, let's end the Greek system as we know it. Then, let's make it better than anyone has ever known it to be with the College's help.

Why would the College's powers-that-be help the Greek system that they've tried to destroy? The reasoning goes like this: the administration makes a dedication to giving Greek houses The Money under the condition that Greek houses spend The Money on making changes, such as:

-- Better alcoholic parties. There should be a wider selection of beer. More importantly, there should be bottled non-alcoholic drinks at every alcoholic party so non-drinking participants can stay hydrated and happy.

-- Non-alcoholic parties that are fun. That's right. The Greek houses are the backbone of the social life here -- why aren't they the ones trying to pull off the non-alcoholic social option? If they can't, then they don't get The Money.

-- Improving the Greek houses so that the community can party in nicer conditions: clean floors, bigger facilities, nicely air-conditioned parties, etc. Yes, The Money needs to be titanic and well-handled.

How does the College determine whether or not a particular house is dedicating The Money to these things? Rigorous surveys conducted periodically by someone smart with statistics and unaffiliated with Greek houses (the math department?) can determine this end. These surveys would ask the students themselves if all the requirements listed herein are being met by Greek houses. The fraternities can still have their niches: Alpha Theta and Phi Tau can still appeal to the role-players, and Heorot could still appeal to pong players and athletes; as long as Greek houses appeal to some sizable chunk of students, they would still be eligible for The Money. This survey method has a volunteer bias, but that's OK: think of it like a democracy -- if you don't vote (i.e. fill out the survey), your opinion doesn't matter.

In order to get The Money, Greek houses also must:

-- Spend part of The Money on looking classy. This way when parents visit they are envious of where their kids are going to party, and U.S. News writers are so in awe that they laud us in their magazine.

-- Embrace Safety and Security visits. I wouldn't want Safety and Security walking through my room unannounced, but Greek houses: give them checklists with categories like "Wide selection of beer? Pretty girls? Handsome boys? Nice music? Enough places to sit? Nice coat racks? Not overcrowded?" Be humorous, encourage honesty, improvement based on criticism.

But that is not all. In order to receive The Money, Greek houses must:

-- Be dedicated to ensuring that their social events are of the coolest caliber (surely, the bright individuals in Greek houses can think of a lot in this category).

-- Be dedicated to ensuring that the social life is safe. No one enjoying Dartmouth social life should have to worry about rape, discrimination, assault, etc.

-- Not let shady stuff go on, like sex publications. Greeks have a public image -- go for Ivy League class, not smut, and everyone from the stereotypical frat boy (if he exists here) to President Wright (if he is here) shall be more pleased.

-- Come up with some spell-checked contract saying you're committed to diversity, that you welcome gay and transgender and bisexual and curious and straight and male and female people. Sign the contract and mean it.

I have a dream of a Dartmouth social life so incredible that professors cannot resist its allure. Students and teachers, side-by-side, discussing academia over beer and/or Kool-Aid. What an image.

College administrators: give students a chance at making Dartmouth more prestigious, fun, safe and sophisticated. Perhaps send your social engineer(s) to advise the Greeks who will be taking on a huge burden if they run with these ideas. Greeks: if the administrators give you a chance, it's time to do the greatest community service project for the greatest college in America. The letters and booklets you sent me en masse last term said Greeks are community leaders, great individuals, hard workers and that they truly want to make a difference. Live up to your claims.

For the people who don't care about any of this and just want to party, perhaps it's time to ask yourself why so much money is spent for you to party here when you can party for much less at any other bar in the world. Even if you went every night, it'd still be cheaper (if this is the case, please stop by Fort Sill, Okla., and spend money at my mom's strip club, so I can make my car payments).