Verbum Ultimum

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 11/19/04 6:00am

Recent allegations of hazing and sexual harassment involving Theta Delta Chi fraternity and Delta Delta Delta sorority have resurfaced tensions familiar to anyone acquainted with Dartmouth's Greek system. Though the details of this particular incident remain obscured by an ongoing Hanover Police investigation and contradictory accounts given by those on opposite sides of the dispute, several points are abundantly clear.

Hazing -- or "new-member training," or whichever euphemism you prefer -- is an inevitable component of Greek life that no law or College regulation will likely ever eradicate. There are obvious risks involved when a Greek house chooses to subject its new members to this sort of "training," and these risks can only be minimized with responsible supervision by house leadership. If the incident that sparked this controversy was part of organized pledging activities, then such responsible leadership was noticeably absent and house leaders ought to be held accountable.

A more likely scenario, however, is that the controversy stemmed from the inappropriate actions of a specific group of individuals, not either house as a whole. One of the Greek system's greatest liabilities is the simple reality that one or two members can discredit an entire house with a single offensive word or action. When allegations of sexual harassment consume one house or two houses, the Greek system as a whole suffers the consequences.

Some rules are meant to be broken. Nobody, from College administrators to the most naive of freshmen, truly believes that the Greek system at Dartmouth is devoid of hazing, and many would argue that it does not need to be. However, when students' personal safety and emotional well-being are put in danger, the line between good fun and irresponsibility has been irreversibly crossed. If you respect your own fraternity or sorority, respect the rules of common sense. It's not that complicated.