Verbum Ultimum: A New Recognition
On Monday afternoon, the College revoked the official recognition of Alpha Delta fraternity as a student organization, effective April 20.
There is not much to be gained by arguments of the fairness of this outcome. At this point in time, making value judgements about whether AD deserved its punishment will not further the discussion on the future of Greek life — emotional reactions and rants are better left on Yik Yak.
What this editorial board finds more interesting is what this decision means for other Greek houses. AD’s derecognition hardly spells doom for the Greek system at large nor fits a broader narrative of administrative crackdown. Derecognition is well-established as a College sanction — Beta Theta Pi fraternity was derecognized in 1996 and Zeta Psi fraternity in 2001. Phi Delta Alpha fraternity, too, had no recognition from 2000 to 2004. These organizations have since been allowed to reestablish themselves on campus. Monday’s announcement should not be taken as a sign of the imminent end of the Greek system.
Rather, the College’s decision tells us that administrators and students share similarly high standards for the behavior of Greek organizations. As stated in our April 10 Verbum Ultimum, “A Branding Problem,” activities that bring harm to students have no place in Dartmouth’s Greek community, and the derecognition of AD is a sign that the College will not disregard an organization’s violations of College policies.
Students, both affiliated and not, should view the College’s decision as a positive sign for the future of campus. A system that deems harmful behaviors as unacceptable is one in which students and alumni can take pride. Greek leaders on this campus have recently taken steps to better the state of the Greek system, such as the Interfraternity Council’s unanimous decision in Sept. 2014 to ban pledge terms and Panhellenic Council’s modifications to improve the women’s formal recruitment process. The College’s decision invites the possibility of increased collaboration between administrators and Greek leaders. If the College incentivizes and rewards Greek houses that commit to promoting safe environments, the Greek system as a whole will benefit.
Based on College President Phil Hanlon’s “Moving Dartmouth Forward” remarks on Jan. 29, if administrators wanted to abolish the Greek system, they could have already done so. We have no evidence to support the straw-man claims that the College has a master plan to dismantle the Greek system house by house. Each Greek organization is responsible for its individual track record, and it would be surreptitious and disappointing if the College were to begin punishing houses that have no clear history of violations.
With this in mind, the decision to derecognize AD means that the College is serious about its commitment to accountability stated in the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan. Students, too, must take these initiatives seriously and focus on how to effectively address, debate and implement its goals.
Students have thus far demonstrated that they are willing to comply with the“Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan. Saying that we should take the new policies seriously, however, does not mean that we should ignore the plan’s flaws.
But the loss of one house does not mean the downfall of the entire system, and we should judge each house on its own merits or failings rather than defending or attacking the system as a single entity.