Opinion Asks

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 4/16/15 7:58pm

We asked our opinion staff: "What do you think Alpha Delta fraternity’s derecognition implies for the Greek system at large? Do you think that it will influence people’s behavior in the future? What are your thoughts on the campus’s response?"

Each of our own thoughts on the notions of justice, fair punishment and the definition of branding as a potential medium of personal expression aside, Alpha Delta fraternity’s recent derecognition has sparked a distinct hostility on campus. It’s a hostility that seems to bubble below the surface and is inherently poisoning the discourse between students and the civility of student-administrator relations. In this environment, many students feel like they cannot express an opinion in either direction in fear of violent, discursive pushback from those who feel invested in the consequences of the decision. Moreover, the motives of interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer have been unjustly brought into question when, in my opinion, there is no greater crusader than she for the preservation of Greek life in the social fabric of this institution.

— Aylin Woodward ’15

I believe that the derecognition of AD was at least partially an attempt by administrators to convey their power and authority — to show the students that, at the end of the day, administrators hold an incredible amount of control over the College. I think all of the Greek organizations will, at least for the foreseeable future, be overly cautious in all of their actions just to avoid incurring further administrative wrath.

— Michelle Gil ’16

I think AD’s derecognition is not indicative of any endangerment to the Greek system. It will most definitely affect future behavior, as members of frats and sororities will likely exercise greater caution before engaging in certain behaviors.

— Caroline Hsu ’18

Love them or hate them, they were — and still are — a significant part of the Dartmouth community. AD is not dead yet — because they refuse to die — though the disciplinary actions were bold, and what was once a raging bonfire of a fraternity has been reduced to a few embers, vulnerable to the heavy boot of administrators. If we’re going to be honest, there’s little surprise in the decision to derecognize the fraternity. It has been at the center of campus drama since 2012. Though AD had indeed taken measures to improve its status, it has ultimately refused to adapt to the conditions imposed on campus by administrators. Truthfully, many Greek members regard forms of hazing as “expression.” Most, however, buckled down and accepted the new rules for the sake of keeping their houses out of trouble. With AD’s punishment, houses are already looking at them as a cautionary tale of what happens when the new policies are not followed.

Moreover, many of the newly displaced AD members will likely experience pushback around campus when they arrive at surviving houses — particularly when they do so in large groups. I suspect few houses will want to give administrators the impression of harboring ADs or even tacitly supporting the alleged behavior of its members. I won’t be surprised to see a lot of houses preparing themselves to deflect collateral damage from the derecognition by limiting any guilt by association with AD.

— William Peters ’15

While I understand that not all members of AD condoned the behavior that eventually led to the fraternity’s derecognition, this decision is important for its potential to foster positive change in the Greek system. In particular, it shows a strong and reassuring commitment by administrators to address hazing and exclusivity on campus — a resolve that is made even clearer by the fact that the decision was made despite College President Phil Hanlon himself was an AD during his days as a student. It’s encouraging to see that administrators have indicated that harmful behaviors and policy violations will not be tolerated and that an objective lens will be used when investigating any allegations. With such an unambiguous commitment, I am optimistic that Greek houses — especially fraternities that have been found in violation of policies in the past — will now be more cautious and will reduce not only hazing but also any activity that could potentially be construed as hazing, resulting in a more open and accommodating Greek system.

More significantly, the derecognition of AD opens up the possibility of reincorporating its physical plant into the Greek system — as a sorority. Though the ratio of biological females to males at the College is approximately 1 to 1, there are 7 — after April 20, 6 — more fraternities than sororities. The result is that women looking to join sororities are jammed into houses that have huge memberships, which can impede the development of a sense of community and sisterhood. The derecognition of AD thus does not mean a loss for the Greek system, but rather the chance to encourage safer fraternities and take steps toward equalizing the gendered power dynamics that plague social life. The most lasting impact of AD’s derecognition will hopefully be a campus where much-needed female-dominated social spaces have an even more prominent role.

— Nicole Simineri ’17