Several Greek houses make changes this year

by Amelia Acosta | 6/9/11 10:00pm

Greek life at Dartmouth has seen it all in the past year from the construction of new physical plants on campus to several significant policy changes, the Greek community experienced a number of notable changes in the past 10 months, according to Director of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Kristi Clemens.

Administrators and the Board of Trustees have given significant attention to issues pertaining to the Greek community throughout this past academic year, Clemens said.

"Greek issues were highlighted at the April Board of Trustees meeting, and I gave a presentation along with [associate Dean of the College for Campus Life] April Thompson and [acting Dean of the College] Sylvia Spears about the various issues," she said. "The Board was very supportive of where we came from, which hasn't always been the case. I think this indicates that our community is strong and only getting stronger."

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity opened its new physical plant during Spring term, despite delays caused by "vending and construction issues," Clemens said. The delay occurred because the house was not built directly on site; instead, it was a modular unit whose pieces were built outside of New Hampshire and trucked into the state. This design led to several safety-code violations that were resolved in time for the physical plant to open in the beginning of Spring term, Clemens said.

College officials were also able to secure funding to finalize a location for a physical plant for Alpha Phi sorority at 2 North Park St., Clemens said.

"I think we can all agree that it was time for us to start looking for a proper timeline to get Alpha Phi their house," she said. "The College budget situation had relaxed and we needed to really start thinking about their options."

The house originally identified by the College was ruled out due to zoning issues, but the ground-breaking for the new location is set to begin at the end of the summer, with the house opening in time for Fall term 2013, according to Clemens. Because the house is College-owned, the Office of Residential Life has earmarked funds and the College will cover the building cost, she said.

The designation of a house for Alpha Phi has important implications for sororities at Dartmouth and for a future physical plant for Kappa Delta sorority, Clemens said.

"I think it's so important for these women to have their own social space and a home to call their own," she said. "Now that Alpha Phi is on track there will hopefully be more clarity for Kappa Delta. Every conversation about housing has included Kappa Delta and the two sororities are on parallel tracks but Alpha Phi was ahead because they've been waiting longer."

Beta Alpha Omega fraternity was recognized as a local fraternity on March 8, following a two-year "colony" period. Beta is the first local Greek organization to be recognized in the past six years, Clemens said.

"Re-recognition was on their timeline of re-colonization," she said. "Generally de-recognized organizations have a two-year colony period. For the first year, they are dry and make efforts to recruit and establish themselves on campus. After one year, they need to keep on this positive trajectory but without the dry factor."

After the colony period, Beta was able to "fulfill the agreement" necessary for re-colonization and recognition by the Inter-Fraternity Council, Clemens said.

"Beta has made a great addition to campus," she said. "The average student at Dartmouth wouldn't know the difference from a colony and an official fraternity. It's really just about official recognition and being a voting member of the IFC, and more about accomplishment and internal recognition than anything else."

This academic year has seen the implementation of several new Greek-related policies and programs, including the creation of Green Team, a bystander intervention program to help prevent alcohol harm, that began in February, according to Green Team leader Charlotte Cipparone '12.

"The program employs students to be sober at parties where the organizations have requested our assistance and to keep an eye on peoples' levels of intoxication," Cipparone said. "The trained students act as an extension of the social chair and house executive to reduce the harm from alcohol use."

Green Team is modeled after a program started at Haverford College by Jeff Millman Tu'12, Cipparone said.

"We had to adapt a lot of the program because it wasn't originally designed for the Dartmouth Greek scene," she said. "Any initial challenges really came from tailoring the project to Dartmouth and working with Greek leaders to make it as effective as possible."

So far, 200 students have received the mandatory two-hour training to serve as Green Team members, according to Cipparone. The training involves an overview of how to act while working at a party, signs and symptoms of over-intoxication and how to make the decision to call for higher medical authority, she said.

Green Team has been asked to staff "between 25 and 30 events" at a variety of Greek organizations, Cipparone said.

"The response from the Greek houses has been great and almost all the houses have used us so far," she said. "A lot of them have used us more than once because it's really helpful having some backup to ensure that their party is a little safer."

Looking forward, Cipparone hopes the Green Team will "expand to include more houses" and will increase the variety of events that Green Team is able to cover.

At the end of May, the eight Panhellenic sorority presidents announced a new policy emphasizing accountability for responding to reported assaults among Greek organizations, according to Panhellenic Council president Ellie Sandmeyer '12.

"Basically, the policy is a more well thought-out framework for dealing with issues of sexual assault when we hear about them through our sisterhood," Sandmeyer said. "We wanted to facilitate more discussion and change the way the Greek community deals with assault to make it more open."

The policy dictates that if a Panhellenic president receives a report of assault at a Greek organization, she will contact the president of that organization and request official recognition of the issue and an inquiry into the situation within 24 hours of notification, according to Sandmeyer. If that organization fails to respond to the situation within the specified time frame, all eight sororities will suspend events with that organization. The policy also calls for all Greek organizations to include "assault-specific language" in their bylaws, she said.

The policy, proposed on May 12, resulted from a discussion at a Greek Leadership Council meeting with College President Jim Yong Kim, which occurs once each term, Sandmeyer said.

"Sexual assault always comes up because of the lack of response," Sandmeyer said. "We looked into our bylaws and realized there was a lack of any real institutional way to solve the issue."

Panhell has worked to ensure that all relevant administrators and students are involved in the development of the new policy, Sandmeyer said.

"At first, everybody was understandably a little concerned because it's a big change that will affect a lot of people on campus," she said. "People were worried that they might not have enough input and have their organizations [would be] negatively treated as a result. But we've really brought the IFC and the Co-ed Council into our meetings and addressed their needs while encouraging them to come up with parallel policies of their own."

The success of the policy will depend on the Class of 2013, which will continue to implement the policy during Summer term 2011, Sandmeyer said.

"It's a bit of a challenge because there is new leadership coming in that didn't create it," she said. "But we've had a big meeting with the incoming Panhellenic leadership and incoming sorority presidents and I'm confident that they can carry it forward."

The College updated its Social Event Management Procedures in January to transition from an "open or closed dichotomy to a tiered system," Clemens said.

"We wanted to re-center our alcohol management policy to be more in line with the reality of the Dartmouth social scene," she said. "We now have a three-tiered system and Safety and Security walk-throughs during, as opposed to prior to, a tails event."

Clemens said the system classifies social events into Tier 1, a members-only event consisting of under 150 people, Tier 2, an event with members and non-members consisting of under 150 people, and Tier 3, large open parties with over 150 people.

Panhell has begun to re-evaluate the way it conducts rush, looking for new ways to handle increasingly large pledge classes, according to Sandmeyer.

"Delta Zeta is a national sorority that has been waiting to come on campus," she said. "but we want to make sure that all of our organizations are strong before we bring someone new on campus."

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