Daniell '55: Frats key to College's prestige

by John Mitchell | 11/17/04 6:00am

Repeated faculty votes to abolish Dartmouth's Greek system suggest that many professors think fraternity and sorority houses damage the College's academic reputation. Jere Daniell '55, history professor emeritus and a member of Alpha Theta fraternity, begs to differ.

"Dartmouth was a failing, regional institution 110 years ago, and today is one of the top 10 colleges in America," Daniell said, speaking Tuesday night at Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. "Fraternities have played a large role in that progress."

Daniell addressed problems that Greek organizations, such as Theta Delta Chi fraternity, have had in the past with adhering to College policy.

"One of the wonders of the world is that Theta Delt still exists," Daniell said, joking that they have been "right on the edge" since the early 1950s.

However, he followed by saying, that some of his class' most prominent members are Theta Delts.

Daniell stressed the importance of fraternity members as donors to the College.

He also emphasized the importance of fraternities in bringing the community together, citing various inter-fraternity competitions as some of the most significant moments in his college career, and as an impetus in his decision to return to Dartmouth as a professor.

"It turned out my best sport was pong," Daniell said, and he fondly reminisced about reaching the fraternity finals with one of his brothers.

Setting the record for most weekends spent away from Alpha Theta on dates with girls from local women's colleges was fun, but he made sure to point out that his fellow Alpha Theta members keeping records created a sense of community and good spirited competition that he might not have experienced without Dartmouth's Greek system.

Daniell praised the fraternities for creating "communities within the community," groups easier to organize and more efficient than what the College as a whole can offer.

Despite three "lemming-like" attempts on the Greek system's existence over the past half century, Daniell said he sees the system not only extant in another 50 years, but "very much like it is today."