Last Friday, this paper’s editorial board published a column titled “Abolish the Greek System.” While nobody will argue that Dartmouth’s Greek system is perfect, the editorial board’s unwillingness to engage in real dialogue or propose solutions outside of the nuclear option is baffling at best and dishonest resume-building at worst. It demonstrates an appalling inability to explore the many facets of this important issue. The editorial board was clearly looking for an element of shock by printing the editorial on the front page of the paper, rather than its usual location a few pages in. It is also no coincidence that this action was taken the Friday of Homecoming weekend, when thousands of alumni are on campus and the social scene is under heightened scrutiny. Though editor-in-chief Lindsay Ellis claims that this move was to show “how much is at stake,” in reality all it did was turn The Dartmouth into a poorly-argued soapbox.
The editorial board proposes abolishing the Greek system as the cure to Dartmouth’s social disease, but unfortunately this “cure” is far worse. If Dartmouth were to abolish its Greek system, administrators would have no real means of regulating the College’s social scene and no meaningful way to work with the student body to enact change. More than 50 percent of Dartmouth students — around 70 percent of non-freshmen — belong to a Greek house. Does the editorial board think that roughly 2,000 students will simply stop any sort of socializing? Of course not. High-risk behavior will simply move underground — and we know from the freshman policy that this situation creates more risk and less safety. Greek houses’ members are specifically trained to notice signs of unsafe intoxication and to be on the lookout for possible issues that may arise during an event. If the Greek system was abolished, widescale student-led oversight would disappear.
Furthermore, the editorial board has seemingly forgotten that the Greek system is not just fraternities. They attempt to mask this by citing two sororities’ incidents to provide a semblance of “balance.” However, one of these examples is from 16 years ago, and the rest of the editorial is quite clearly directed at fraternities. Does the editorial board think that abolishing all the sororities — desperately needed female-dominated social spaces — and the coed houses is a good decision as well? What does the editorial board propose happen to Amarna and Panarchy, our non-Greek undergraduate societies? The rest of the system is reduced to unfortunate collateral damage. You don’t get to say “abolish it” without meaning the whole thing, and the inability — or unwillingness — of the editorial board to consider the entire Greek system rather than just the fraternities reveals a mentality of pointing out problems rather than proposing solutions.
Change has already begun in the Greek system, and ours is, despite its faults, one of the most inclusive and progressive in the nation. Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority abandoned the divisive women’s rush process for the more inclusive shake-out process, and Panhellenic Council expanded its constitution to include individuals who self-identify as women. The Interfraternity Council recently voted 15-0 to abolish the harmful process of pledge term in all its organizations, and the Coed Council reiterated its position that pledge activities have no part in coed Greek life. This is not the Dartmouth of “Animal House” (1978), it is not the Dartmouth of Andrew Lohse’s fiction and it is not the Dartmouth that the editorial board would have you believe. There are problems, yes, but those problems are being meaningfully addressed. Some may think change is not coming quickly enough — but it is better to have a mechanism for change than none of either.
I call upon the editorial board to use its position for something better than just saying “screw it.” You have been successful in causing controversy, but you have been unsuccessful in proposing any actual solutions. Think about these complex issues rather than just trying to claim the moral high ground. Dartmouth does not need more division. We need unity, we need strength, we need honest conversations and we need a willingness to compromise for the betterment of the whole College. Abolishing the Greek system does none of that. It is not a real solution — and it causes more problems than it solves.