Parkhurst: More of the Same

by Janos Marton | 9/30/04 5:00am

Your article on September 29, "Registration Policy Shift Worries Greeks," was a dismaying but somewhat unsurprising update on the administration's continued battle to rein in Dartmouth social life to create a duller campus. What has come to bother me is not so much this goal, which is typical of middle-aged bureaucrats, but the insidious way in which Greek and alcohol policy creation is referred to as dialogue. The Student Life Initiative in its full glory has more or less come to a halt, but the administration has learned two valuable lessons from the experience. The first is that unpopular, detrimental policy can be enacted far more successfully piecemeal than it can with one sweeping change. The second is that whenever discontent swells, the administration should call together a group of students to form a committee, drag out meetings endlessly, publish a report during finals or Summer term and then subsequently ignore students' most important recommendations, extracting minor recommendations to tout as student-administrative collaboration.

This new alcohol policy is not just bad, it is terrible. Rob Freiman '05 correctly pointed out that at most houses, having zero guests would still render them eligible for a keg if they registered. But what Rob didn't mention is that the administration has never dealt well with math or common sense, and anyone interested in keg policy should read my article, "An Irrational Keg Policy," in this publication on June 19, 2003. The main issue with this new policy is that it is not fair, and will thus be violated constantly. Indeed, my largest problem in dealing with alcohol policy as student body president was that Greek presidents and social chairs didn't want to bother changing policy when it was so easy to sneak around it.

The consequence, of course, is a litany of violations that lead to probation, at which point everyone gets upset.

Now is the time for students to get their acts together and stop this policy with unified voice and action. The Greek Leadership Council, The Dartmouth Review, The Free Press and Student Assembly should all stand up to this ludicrous policy, and more importantly, should not give credence to the new "working group" Dean of the College Jim Larimore has convened to address the issue. After all, in 2002 he put together a working group of students to advice him on alcohol policy, a committee that was chaired by respected alum and professor Robert Binswanger. The Binswanger recommendations were subsequently mangled or ignored, leading to the announcement of a very inadequate alcohol policy in January 2003, seven months after the group had last convened. One of the most glaring flaws was that it made the Student Activities Office, which knows more about throwing a KICK@$$ Party than an actual party, as the conduit for party registration. In response to the new policy, Jim Larimore and I convened yet another working group of informed students to address its problems. While our minor recommendations were met, the major ones were not.

Today, there is not a single student on campus who was part of either of those working groups. The representatives of the new working group will assume the cards they've been played as a starting point, with no sense of alcohol policy's twisted course over the past three years. They will make decent recommendations to be sure, which will likely be filed into a report that they will not see again before publication, as was the case with Greek Steering Committee Report of 2001, responsible for many of the Greek System's new policies.

Finally, avoid the temptation to think that just because you are forced to throw a dance party with one or two kegs that you will be fine with the four or five extra you'll keep in the trunk of an outside car. You will eventually get caught, and it will suck for the brothers and every guest of that house.

Then when you're begging for a beer at another house, which now has to serve twice as many guests with their respective two kegs, you will wish you had done something about a policy while you could, before you graduated and left the parties of old to the dustbins of history.

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