Miller '02 hasn't been afraid to shake things up

by Karla Kingsley | 6/9/02 5:00am

After a run-in with the copy machine in the theater department, Miller, smiling and outgoing, came rushing into Collis, glancing at my ID card to identify me as her interviewer. After exchanging introductions, we sat down to a conversation that left me amazed at the amount one person can be involved during her Dartmouth career.

During her time at Dartmouth, Miller has been engaged in the ongoing debate surrounding the Greek system. Even before coming to college, Miller knew that she didn't want to be part of the Greek system and only applied to colleges that didn't have fraternities or sororities, with only one exception -- Dartmouth. Obviously, she decided to come anyway.

"I ended up being like 'yeah, whatever,'" she said. "I knew when I got here I didn't want to be a part of it. I wanted to form an identity without the Greek System being a part of it." Although she never became affiliated with any Greek house, she certainly did become involved in the issue.

The conflicts between the administration and the Greek system during Winter Term 1999, when Winter Carnival was canceled, impacted and "embarrassed" Miller. She described the student march to President Wright's house, where Greek members held signs proclaiming "Wright is Wrong" in response to Wright's declaration to dramatically change the Greek system.

Miller recalled her feelings after seeing the student uprising.

"I just remember feeling horrible. ... The one political action I had seen all freshman year was these people [Greek affiliates and supporters] marching to the president's house," she said, noting that other schools had activism surrounding other issues, including sweatshops, foreign policy and the environment.

Miller began to get "caught up" in the debate at the end of freshman year, when she applied and was chosen to be a member of the Committee on the Student Life Initiative. During her freshman summer, Miller flew up to Hanover on weekends from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y., in order to attend three-day meetings of the committee, where they discussed everything from housing to alcohol policy to Greek life.

She described the meetings as "really intense," adding that they would start at 7:45 a.m. and go until 9:00 at night.

The committee came out with the recommendations for the Student Life Initiative during Miller's sophomore year, but Miller continued to be involved in the Greek debate.

"The SLI literally took over campus dialogue," she said, adding that it was easy for the Greeks to organize support, but "there was no room to voice dissent -- you absolutely could not stage a rally."Miller got involved in trying to organize the dissenting opinion on campus, working with five seniors who strongly opposed and wanted to abolish the Greek system, as well as other students who shared her views.

After focusing on the Greek debate for three years at Dartmouth, Miller decided to become less involved during her senior year.

Looking back on her time here, Miller smiled. This year, "I said 'you know, there is a world out there.' This committee took so much time. I got tired of giving and giving and giving," she said, adding that her senior year "needed to be a higher level of focus, of connecting with professors" and forming relationships.

So in this last year, Miller has focused more on her passion and major -- theater. She wrote a full-length play, helped with the Mexotica production and won a spot in the Frost festival for student-written plays.

Miller also won a place in the Frost festival her sophomore year, but "this year was much cooler. Sophomore year I was in a daze, we were all pretty clueless. This year I had a little more self-determination," she said.

Her eyes lighting up as she described the production, Miller became animated as she described the student-run play. "The prize is that you get your play performed. You get it mounted and produced in Bentley," she said, adding, "They take it pretty seriously."

Miller's interest in theater extended outside of Dartmouth, leading her to the theater Foreign Study Program in London during her junior winter. "It made me feel more a part of my major," she said, describing the program in which students attended two to three plays per week as "amazing."

A straight theater major didn't quite satisfy Miller's multifaceted set of interests, so she modified her academic interests with Women's studies. While these two academic interests are met with skepticism by some students' parent, Miller has received only positive feedback from home.

Laughing, Miller said, "There are people whose parents are bribing them with cars not to choose a theater major ... my parents have been ridiculously supportive."

Not surprisingly, her parent's interests have influenced Miller's actions here at Dartmouth. Her father is interested in politics and her mother works with the Women's Resource Center at a community college.

Miller, the current programming intern for the WRC at Dartmouth, said that her position parallels her mother's work, and that they frequently discuss the differences and similarities between the two WRCs.

Miller's four years have been an amalgam of activism, foreign study and theater performance, along with other standard student activities, like hanging out with friends. Miller also spoke animatedly about poetry, which she said is "sort of like an extracurricular. It is fun."

This summer Miller continues her passion for the theater as she works with the director-in-residence for the theater department. Although not an actor, she will play a vital role in the creation of Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors."

Like many seniors, Miller doesn't have her future plans set in stone yet. She expressed some lighthearted emotional duress about her future, saying, "Eeeps! ... I'm open to suggestions!"