Panhell president steps down, citing institutional problems

by Lauren Budd | 7/7/16 6:29pm

Kalie Marsicano ’17 stepped down from her position as Panhellenic Council president at the end of spring term, citing institutional problems with the Greek system as a whole and personal reservations about perpetuating the system as reasons in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth. Vice president Lauren Huff ’17 will take her position through the end of the elected term as described in the Panhell bylaws.

Though Marsicano wrote in an email that she admired the efforts of past Panhell presidents who worked to create change from within the system, she eventually felt that, while her work was improving the state of Greek system in the short term, it was also counteracting her broader goal to make the College “a more equitable and less hostile place.”

“After two terms as president, I came to believe that the more work that I and other students put in to make the Greek system less harmful, the more staying power we were giving it,” Marsicano wrote.

The decision was ultimately personal, she wrote.

“I didn’t want to continue pouring my efforts into marginal progress for the Greek system when I could be dedicating my time to work that feels inherently good and productive for both short and long-term progress,” she wrote. “With three terms left, there’s only so much I can do as one person, and I think there are other, more effective and more rewarding ways for me to engage in activism on campus, which I will be pursuing throughout senior year.”

Current Panhell summer president Samantha Maltais ’18 said that, for her, running for Panhell president was not about an overwhelming desire to get more involved with Greek life on campus.

“For me, running was more about not being complacent with the issues I have with the system and actually working to make a difference,” she said. “With that said, when I accepted the position, I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into. I didn’t know about the endless meetings with various student organizations, Greek officials, admin and staff or the countless hours the women on Panhell work through in order to advance policy agenda.”

Maltais said that she preferred to think about her role as taking smaller opportunities for improvement, rather than attempting to change the Greek system as a whole. She said an example of this was overcoming the Greek-centric theme to sophomore summer and focusing on developing the community of her class as a whole in addition to individual Greek houses.

Marsicano also depledged from Sigma Delta as part of her decision.

“I didn’t want to participate complacently in the system after I had decided to stop working to change it,” she wrote.

Marsicano wrote that she always believed that the Greek system should be abolished because it produces no unique benefits and many unique costs, including social exclusion, concentration of alcohol within members of a house and a sense of entitlement over the social space. She also said that sorority recruitment specifically perpetuates classism and racism by excluding membership from students who can not afford dues and by marginalizing women of color in the selection process. She decided to rush in the first place in order to advocate for progress from the inside.

Current members of Panhell have visions of progress and justice in the Greek system and will continue to pursue those goals, she wrote. Marsicano also said that many members of Sigma Delta congratulated her decision and expressed similar frustrations with the system as a whole.

“The other members of the Panhellenic Council and I share the utmost respect for Kalie and the abundant time and passion she put into her role as president,” wrote summer Panhell vice president of public relations Maria Howe ’18 in a statement to The Dartmouth. “We equally respect her thoughtful reflection on Dartmouth’s Greek system that led to her ultimate decision to depledge and step down from Panhell.”

Howe confirmed that Huff will take Marsicano’s role and added that the Council does not yet know who will take Huff’s place.

Several sorority presidents and current Panhell members did not respond to or declined requests for comment.

Kalie Marsicano ’17 is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.