A new College president, a controversial Initiative and tragic loss mark Class of 2002's Dartmouth careers

by Kristina Mendicino | 6/9/02 5:00am

Freshman year, 1998-9

The Class of 2002 witnessed the inauguration of James Wright, Dartmouth's 16th president, and his Winter Term announcement of the Trustees' Five Principles.

The announcement of the Five Principles was perhaps the biggest news at the College since coeducation.

A headline in The Dartmouth quoting Wright read, "TRUSTEES TO END GREEK SYSTEM 'AS WE KNOW IT,'" and students marched down Webster Avenue to the president's house in protest.

Approximately 1,000 students gathered to sing the Dartmouth alma mater, placing special emphasis on the line "lest the old traditions fail."

As a gesture of protest, the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council canceled all parties for the upcoming Winter Carnival weekend. A demonstration took the place of the Psi Upsilon fraternity keg jump. The Student Assembly passed a resolution supporting the CFSC in its opposition to the Five Principles.

The Chi Gamma Epsilon and Alpha Xi Delta "Ghetto Party," which many students, faculty and administrators perceived as being racist and insensitive, led to a widely circulated Associated Press article and discussion fodder on the ABC television program "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher."

Several apologetic op-ed pieces in The Dartmouth failed to placate some members of the Dartmouth community and panel discussions were organized to discuss the issue.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Karl Furstenberg would later link the event to a decline in the number of African-American applicants to the College. The College accepted only three African-American early-decision applicants the following year.

James Larimore, then assistant to the provost at Stanford University and a former admissions officer at Dartmouth, returned as the Dean of the College.

A round of hate mail consisting of offensive cartoons targeted leaders of campus gay, Jewish and other minority groups. The return address on the envelopes set to Hinman Boxes implicated the Campus Crusade for Christ, but the group denied all involvement. The College later discovered the identity of the sender but refused to release a name.

Jeffrey Sudikoff '77, who donated more than $3 million for the construction of the College computer science laboratory, pleaded guilty in February to insider trading charges in connection with his Los Angeles-based communications firm. The College decided not to change the name of the building.

The Student Life Initiative Steering Committee, consisting of students, faculty and administrators, met for the first time during Spring term to foster dialogue about the direction of change at Dartmouth.

During Summer term Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity and Delta Delta Delta sorority rehashed the issues raised by the Ghetto Party with their Aug. 13 Luau Party, which they canceled after complaints charged that it reinforced stereotypes of Hawaiians.

Some expressed concern over the role of the College in off-campus housing during the first week of August, when Dartmouth purchased 19 properties in Hanover including the off-campus residences of about 100 students.

Sophomore year: 1999-2000

As junior fall began, College President James Wright addressed the faculty with promises of "comprehensive and bold" recommendations from the Steering Committee with the assurance, "I do not wish to repeat the history of previous attempts to change."

In the first of a series of presidential primary debates, Democratic and Republican candidates, sans future President George W. Bush, engaged in "town meeting"-style discussions in Moore Theater on Oct. 27 and 28. The debates were broadcast nationwide by CNN.

At the end of the term, Hanover Police arrested Peter Cataldo '00 for trespassing on College property. The College had earlier banned Cataldo from Dartmouth for allegedly writing "KKK, Kill Kosher Kikes" on the message board of the undergraduate advisor on his floor.

After a year of preparation, the Steering Committee released its first report on Jan. 10. It recommended drastic changes to the Greek system to bring it in line with the vision of the Board of Trustees.

The report recommended that single-sex Greek houses continue to exist but that they be held to stricter standards, opening the potential for future de-recognition of certain houses.

Students responded in weekly "fireside chats" with administrators, and Coed Fraternity Sorority Council President Eric Etu '01 presented a response to the recommendations.

While the Student Assembly created a Student Response Task Force, faculty members voted 81-0 to urge the elimination of the Greek system.

A cheating scandal erupted in a Computer Science 4 class taught by Professor Rex Dwyer of the University of North Carolina. The visiting professor charged 78 students with copying answers to a homework problem from a website he failed to make secure.

The affair captured headlines nationwide, calling attention to the role of cheating at elite institutions of higher learning. Dwyer left Dartmouth before the end of the term, and Dean Larimore announced that all charges against the students would be dropped on account of insufficient evidence.

In sports, the Dartmouth women's basketball team captured its second straight Ivy League title and entered the NCAA tournament in the 13th seed. The Big Green came up just four points short against fourth-ranked Purdue in the first round.

The Greek system made headlines again in the middle of the term when the College de-recognized Phi Delta Alpha fraternity for at least two years, citing numerous violations of College social policy and standards.

Charges included allowing freshmen to join the house in a "dirty rush" and failing to take action when four of its members broke into Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity in December and set part of the house on fire. The house appealed the decision without success.

Psi Upsilon fraternity was placed on probation for six weeks beginning at the end of March for alcohol violations during its annual Winter Carnival keg jump.

In April, a Student Assembly poll of the student body overwhelmingly supported the group's social recommendations, which generally opposed those of the Student Life Initiative.

On April 19, the Trustees announced the first wave of changes to be implemented as part of the Initiative. The decision, which was met without strong student reaction, included decisions to move rush to Winter term, to ban taps and permanent bars from Greek houses, to enhance cluster programming and to implement freshman-only housing on a trial basis, beginning with some members of the Class of 2004.

At the end of the month, the campus Christian group Voces Clamantium sponsored a controversial speaker. Yvette Schneider of the conservative Family Research Council gave a speech about her experiences as a former lesbian who says she gave up her homosexual lifestyle when she became a Christian.

Protesters held a rally before the speech, which over 400 people attended. The incident provoked discussions regarding the Committee on Student Organizations' funding of controversial speakers and also re-ignited the debate over free speech on campus.

At the end of May, Delta Delta Delta sorority announced it would withdraw from the CFSC because its goals were "not in accordance with those of the CFSC." The sorority declined to comment further on the reasons for the secession.

Junior year: 2000-1

The beginning of Fall term saw the opening of Berry Library after more than two years of construction, three years of controversy and eight years of planning.

A relatively calm start to the academic year belied the presence of issues that would unify and divide the College community during the months to come. Diversity, tolerance, free speech and their places at a Dartmouth formed the dialogue and debate between September and June, with tragedy striking in between.

College alumnus Adam Nelson '97 took the silver medal in the shot-put competition at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.As the presidential debates began in October between Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Bob Gienko '01 officially announced his candidacy for the New Hampshire state legislature. Despite amassing the largest number of votes among Republican candidates, he was defeated in a district that Democrats have controlled for a quarter of a century.

Ang Lee, the director of the hit Chinese film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," visited campus as a Montgomery fellow. In March of the following year, his film would win go on to win Hollywood's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

One year after the death of 12 students during the construction of their bonfire at Texas A&M, another long-standing Dartmouth tradition came under scrutiny. Bonfire chair Joe Cassidy warned that the 2000 Homecoming bonfire could be the last, but the tradition has continued.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender causes at Dartmouth got a big financial boost in October with the announcement of a $1 million donation from Roger Klorese '77 and his partner to create a GLBT Program Fund.

Late October saw a renewal of violence in the Middle East, and the political and cultural repercussions made their way to Hanover. Hillel and Al-Nur leaders promoted Middle East peace with a joint candlelight vigil on the Green.

Potentially dangerous College traditions came to the fore once again in January, when the Office of Residential Life notified leaders of Psi Upsilon fraternity that the College's insurance company had withdrawn coverage of the annual Psi U Winter Carnival keg jump. The event was canceled, and will most likely no longer play a part in future Winter Carnival activities.

After serving as the College's second highest administrator for two years, Susan Prager stepped down from the position of provost on July 1, citing her interest in serving a larger administration role than her current position at Dartmouth. The College named former associate provost Barry Scherr as Prager's replacement.

The biggest and most tragic Dartmouth news event of the year hit campus on Jan. 27, when Professors Half and Susanne Zantop were found murdered in their home on Trescott Road in Etna, just miles from campus. Both were beloved members of the Dartmouth community, Susanne as chair of the German department and Half as a professor of earth science.

Authorities remained tight-lipped as the mourning Dartmouth community sought to make sense of a seemingly senseless crime. Hope of a resolution to the investigation seemed imminent when police impounded a rental car traced back to an Arizona State professor, but he was eventually absolved of any involvement in the crime.

A Boston Globe story claimed, "Investigators believe the killings of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop were crimes of passion, most likely resulting from an adulterous love affair involving Half Zantop." The newspaper later retracted the article and published an apology on the front page.

Nearly a month after the Jan. 27 tragedy, authorities arrested teenagers Robert Tulloch and James Parker of Chelsea, Vt., for the murders of the two professors.

Police issued warrants for the arrest of the two teenagers on Feb. 17, and apprehended them in New Castle, Indiana, on Feb. 20. They were hitchhiking their way to California, according to authorities.

On Mar. 26 officials released information that DNA of Susanne Zantop matched that found on two knives in Tulloch's bedroom.At his indictment in May, Tulloch pleaded not guilty. After permission had been secured to try him as an adult for two counts of first-degree murder, a trial date was set for January.

In March, the Office of Residential Life placed severe sanctions, including two terms of social probation, on Psi Upsilon fraternity for misconduct stemming from an event in which brothers shouted racist and misogynist remarks including "Wah-hoo-wah, scalp those bitches" at a female passerby.

In April, several student groups coordinated a day of protests and demonstrations outside Parkhurst Hall to coincide with the term's meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The organizers' original demands included a statement by the administration and the Board of Trustees declaring Dartmouth an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic institution. They also sought harsher College punishment for people who commit sexual assault and rape, along with disclosure of holdings in Dartmouth's endowment.

A few days later the College mourned the sudden death of Matthew "Matty" Demaine '04 from cardiac arrest. Both friends and teammates remembered Demaine, a member of the lacrosse team, for his good cheer and sense of humor.

Arriving on the heels of the Psi U incident, revelations of Zeta Psi fraternity newsletters that became referred to as "sex papers" caused many members of the College community to scrutinize the role of Greek organizations on a campus.

The papers included lewd references to supposed sexual acts between Zete brothers and named female students -- one of whom brought the newsletters to administrators. One newsletter advertised date-rape techniques to appear in the next issue. Zeta Psi leaders claimed the papers were intended to be completely satirical.Nevertheless, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman handed down a sentence of permanent derecognition a few weeks later. Zeta Psi appealed the decision and lost.

In response to the incident at Zeta Psi, 101 faculty members signed an open letter to the Board of Trustees and President Wright urging the College to revisit the issue of radically reforming or abolishing the Greek system. The letter suggested that the College has not adequately addressed issues of misogyny and racism, which faculty said Greek organizations foster.

Summer news began with two changes to the College's regulation of Greek houses.

The first was a ban on outdoor consumption of alcohol at all Greek houses. The new policy is based on the Student Life Initiative principle of consistency among all types of residential buildings. Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman allowed that some exceptions would be granted for certain events.

At the same time, the College announced that Safety and Security would begin conducting unscheduled "walk-throughs" of all Greek houses. This announcement was widely criticized both for its content and the lack of student input in the decision-making process.

The Greek Leadership Council submitted several proposals to the administration before brokering the final settlement, under which houses were given advance notice and inspections were conducted once a week.

For the first time, Rick Ackerboom '80 decided not to sponsor Tubestock. Despite an unsuccessful attempt by students to get a permit from the New Hampshire Marine Patrol, the event took place with little trouble.

In a decision which drew strong criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, Redman denied an appeal by Zeta Psi fraternity to overturn their Spring term de-recognition.

The College also released the Greek Life Steering Committee report after seven months of meetings. The report recommended a minimum GPA of 2.3 in order to join a Greek organization and a revamping of the social event monitoring policy.

Susan Dentzer '77 was elected as the Chair of the Board of Trustees in June, taking over for William H. King Jr. '63. Dentzer played a large role in the release of the SLI.

Senior Year, 2001-2

As seniors returned for their final year at Dartmouth, the Fall term opened in the wake of tragic events. The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, war in Afghanistan, the attempted rapes of two female students and continuing investigations into the Zantop murders challenged the community.

Panel discussions about the attacks and their aftermath drew crowds as large as 200. Several visiting lecturers, including Indian author and journalist M. J. Akbar, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop '37 and Israeli journalist Danny Rubinstein, spoke about topics relating to the attacks.

Enrollment in courses relating to the Middle East and Islam, such as Introductory Arabic and Intro to the Islamic World, rose sharply.

The nation's economic slowdown also impacted the Dartmouth community. President Wright announced at an October faculty meeting that the construction of the proposed Tuck Mall dorms would be delayed indefinitely, due in part to financial difficulties.

The ever-present housing shortage was exacerbated this fall when an unusually high percentage of admitted freshmen matriculated at Dartmouth. In order to alleviate the problem, the Office of Residential Life constructed six temporary dorms, known as the Tree Houses, near the River Cluster.

Shortly after Winter term ended, James Parker, 18, pleaded guilty to the murder of Dartmouth professors Half and Suzanne Zantop. Prosecutor Kelly Ayotte recommended that Parker receive a sentence of 25 years to life.

The Greek Leadership Council's decision to allow freshmen to attend Greek parties was met with widespread approval. A number of organizations continued to keep their doors closed to freshmen during at least some parties, however.

The winter and spring of 2002 included the recognition of several Dartmouth students in the form of prestigious awards. In early December Megan Steven '02 was selected as one of 32 Rhodes Scholars from 925 applicants. She will pursue a doctorate in medical sciences at Oxford University in England.

Esther Freeman '01 was awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to study public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Heidi Williams '03 was recently named a Truman Scholar for her work on improving young women's access to math and science education. Meanwhile, Allen Fromherz '02 and Deirdre Lum '02 were selected as Fulbright Scholars.

A conjunctivitis epidemic of unusual potency struck Dartmouth this winter, and along with the teary pink eyes of some 400 students came the New Hampshire Center of Disease Control. Warnings against "unnecessary eye contact" and bottles of disinfectant were dispensed in an attempt to combat the outbreak, which would continue into Spring term.

At the end of February, art student Emily Lewis '02 was arrested for the destruction of much of the student art kept in Clement Hall in the Hopkin's Center. Lewis' mental health was cited as a potential explanation for her systematic vandalism.

Global consciousness at Dartmouth was a prominent issue this year among both student programs and visiting speakers. For three weeks this winter, the College hosted an ethnically diverse group of 18 high school students and four teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The students came as part of an ongoing project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State to promote leadership and community involvement. Education department Chair Andrew Garrod and Josh Thomas '00 led the program.

Nimrod Barkan, the former minister of public affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., presented the Israeli government's perspective on the Middle East crisis during a speech in Dartmouth Hall.

Barkan spoke from a unilaterally pro-Israeli viewpoint, stating that his government wanted to make peace in the past but that the escalation of terrorism from 1999 to the post-Sept. 11 era made negotiation impossible.

"We simply couldn't take it any more ... We will not allow [Palestinian terrorists] to remain immune. After Sept. 11 we have a responsibility to stop terrorism," he said.

Concerns about terrorism impacted the spring foreign study program in art history. Five Dartmouth students returned to campus after the State Department warned that Florence, the location of the FSP, was a potential terrorist target on Easter Sunday -- but the threats never materialized.

In April, speaking to a rapt crowd that filled Spaulding Auditorium, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called for an end to the Palestinian suicide bombings of recent months, although he emphasized that the Israeli government remains open to negotiations for an independent Palestine. He placed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of what he dubbed the "world war on terrorism."

Later in the spring term, Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited campus and gave a talk in Spaulding Auditorium that focused on the successful effort to dismantle South Africa's apartheid system.

Maya Angelou also visited the campus as the keynote speaker for the Tucker Foundation's 50th Anniversary.

News affecting the Greeks system included the replacement of "minimum standards" regulations with action plans formulated by individual houses, so that in the future, Greek houses will be evaluated according to the guidelines that they created for themselves.

This winter marked the first winter rush for Greek houses, with mixed outcomes in terms of numbers of pledges.

Phi Delta Alpha fraternity faces a good chance of being re-recognized next fall as long as it complies with all guidelines set by the Office of Residential Life, former Phi Delt brothers told The Dartmouth.

During a programming event this spring, a fire broke out at Alpha Delta fraternity at approximately 12:45 a.m. All those in the house evacuated safely, and injuries were reported.

Marking the largest increase in four years, Dartmouth's Board of Trustees approved raising undergraduate tuition by 4.5 percent to $27,600 at their meeting this winter.

The Dartmouth faculty voted to elevate the linguistics and cognitive science program to permanent status.

A committee also voted to change the world cultures requirement, consolidating the North American and European requirements into one Western category and adding a "cultural identity" component.

GreenPrint, an effort by the Purchasing Advisory Committee and Computing Services to reduce waste, debuted at the Berry printing window. The old print window will soon be closed for good.

Modernization of academic facilities and increased efforts to promote diversity were among the initiatives proposed by President Wright in a new comprehensive plan for Dartmouth's future known as the Strategic Plan.

A new draft of the College's Mission Statement also appeared this winter, reflecting a greater commitment to diversity, particularly, "encouraging the interaction of talented students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds, experiences, races and economic circumstances."

The college acquired the land where Hanover High School is presently located. The sale was the result of a controversial decision by the Dresden School District, which includes Hanover and Norwich, to sell land.

Financial support of the College's graduate studies program was bolstered with the decision to spend $2 million over the next five years to guarantee health insurance to its nearly 300 graduate research and teaching assistants and to increase their stipends, the College announced in May.

On a less positive economic note, Dartmouth announced it will be making campus-wide budget cuts of 1.5 to 2 percent that will affect every area of the College. The changes are due to this year's economic downturn and the resulting zero-percent increase in endowment return. The cuts will not affect faculty salaries or current College projects.

Change is also ahead for the administration, as Dean of the Faculty Jamshed Bharucha announced that he is leaving Dartmouth to become Tufts University's next provost and senior vice president after only one year in his current position.

The trial of Robert Tulloch resulted in two sentences of life in prison, which were the mandatory consequence of his guilty plea he entered after abandoning his earlier insanity defense.