Greek organizations establish new freshman policy

by Laura Weiss | 5/26/13 10:00pm

by Natalie Cantave and Natalie Cantave / The Dartmouth

The GLC, its five subcouncils and Greek house presidents overwhelmingly approved the policy, which aims to protect freshmen's safety and mitigate the risk that Greek houses take when hosting new students.

"The policy will hopefully reduce the number of negative incidents involving freshmen and Greek houses," Interfraternity Council president Gunnar Shaw '14 said in an email.

Freshmen caught violating the policy will be prohibited from rushing a Greek house during their sophomore year. Organizations found in violation will pay a fine for the first offense and may face College sanctions after multiple offenses.

The policy will affect all freshmen, even those who are over 21, and will apply to Greek member's private rooms in addition to basements. It will be effective from the return of section A of First-Year Trips on Aug. 30 to the Monday after Homecoming weekend, Oct. 14.

A freshman accused of violating the policy will be adjudicated by the GLC executive board, which requires a two-thirds vote for a decision. A Greek house's responsibility will be determined by a GLC subcouncil, also based on a two-thirds vote.

To promote alternative programming, the College will pay for dry events specifically targeted at freshmen at Greek houses and other open spaces on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the first month of the term.

"We like that this policy encourages Greek organizations to reach out to freshmen with explicitly freshmen-friendly, substance-free events," GLC moderator Elliot Sanborn '14 said in an email. "We think this will create a safer, more open and really more welcoming environment in both the short and long run."

Panhellenic Council president Eliana Piper '14 said the councils and Greek presidents collaborated with Greek Letter Organizations and Societies and other campus constituents, who agreed that the first four weeks of freshman year are the riskiest time for high risk drinking behaviors.

She emphasized that the policy aims not to prevent freshmen from entering Greek houses, but rather give students the opportunity to "interact" with Greek spaces in a more welcoming environment.

"The sororities hope to utilize this as an opportunity to invite freshmen into the sororities in a way that's risk free," Piper said.

Conversations for the new policy began during the summer, Piper said. After Alpha Delta fraternity house advisor John Engelman '68 brought the idea forward, the IFC took leadership of the initiative. Fraternities wish to avoid the risk of hosting freshmen before they have time to become acclimated to college life, Sanborn said.

"We hope that these risks will be less when freshmen later do enter the Greek scene," he said.

Greek leaders have been working on the policy for several weeks, with the hopes of building support to the point of a near unanimous vote.

Although the policy may lead to higher-risk drinking in dormitory rooms, Greek leaders hope to mitigate this by work with the Office of Residential Life and Dean's Office to make them aware of possible repercussions.

Current students and incoming freshmen expressed mixed views on the new policy.

Student body president-elect Adrian Ferrari '14 said the policy will give students a good reminder that there are "other ways" for students to find their own space at Dartmouth.

"I think it will give freshmen an opportunity to really define a Dartmouth experience that doesn't have to include the Greek system," he said.

Adam Wright '17 said he does not support the policy, but understands the GLC's decision.

"I have mixed feelings toward it," he said.

Wright said the repercussions for violating the policy are "a little bit to harsh," but the change may lead to the development of closer bonds and friendships.

"It will give you more time to really meet people, so I think it's positive in that aspect," he said.

Griffin Kay '16 said the policy may cause freshmen to feel "excluded and ostracized" when they are trying to fit at in a new school.

In 1997, the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council unanimously voted to pass a freshman visitation policy, which prohibited freshmen from attending any registered Greek event during the fall term. The policy was largely unsuccessful and several students previously interviewed said they attended Greek parties nonetheless.

Multiple Greek house presidents declined requests for comment.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 28, 2013

**The original version of this article stated incorrectly that Shaw is the GLC president. He is president of the IFC.*