Verbum Ultimum: A Viable "Alternative"
? Over the past week, Student Assembly and the Campus Center Advisory Committee have been reaching out to students for input regarding new social spaces in the Collis Center and in the basement of the Class of 1953 Commons. We applaud these groups for seeking student involvement in the process of developing these new facilities, and we hope that they will take advantage of this opportunity to expand the range of social spaces on this campus in accordance with student views and student needs.
?The term "alternative" is often used to describe social spaces outside of the Greek system for students seeking other options. This language, however, treats Greek social life as the singular norm and fails to bridge the divide between affiliated and unaffiliated students. While the majority of eligible Dartmouth students are members of a fraternity, sorority or coed house, describing social spaces outside of the Greek system as "alternative" is inherently othering and creates the counterproductive and false notion that Greek and non-Greek spaces are mutually exclusive. These new social spaces will provide an opportunity to complement the social options provided by the Greek system in a way that takes into account the interests of a broad spectrum of the student body. We hope that the new spaces will be suited for affiliated and unaffiliated students alike.
?From a practical standpoint, social options sponsored by the College cannot replicate those of Greek organizations, which are able to take certain liberties in their spaces that the College feasibly cannot. In the past, Student Assembly and Programming Board have sponsored social events like dance parties in Collis that seem to be attempts to emulate the social options provided by Greek organizations outside of a Greek setting. While these events demonstrate a commendable effort to provide social opportunities outside of Greek organizations, they are often poorly attended and engage a very small number of students. Instead of using these non-Greek social spaces as venues for events that are already common among Greek organizations and undergraduate societies, the Campus Center Advisory Committee should seize this opportunity to develop spaces that serve different purposes more in accordance with students' diverse interests.
?Certain events such as concerts, performances and interactive activities like bingo draw large crowds from broad cross-sections of campus. Designing spaces that support events with widespread appeal could potentially bring together groups that would otherwise have limited opportunities to interact. Rather than using these spaces for "alternative" events that only attract small sections of the student body thereby exacerbating the divide between affiliated and unaffiliated students the College, Student Assembly and the Campus Advisory Committee should consider the events that have most successfully drawn together students from across campus and seek to design spaces that encourage their continuance and expansion.