Affiliated students have reported that the Department of Safety and Security has, in recent weeks, more strictly policed fraternity events than during fall term and the beginning of winter term. According to members of each house, on Jan. 19, Bones Gate fraternity was temporarily suspended for hosting a large event with multiple fraternities and sororities in attendance, Gamma Delta Chi fraternity remains on probation and Beta Alpha Omega fraternity has received multiple warnings.
All three members requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about their houses’ situations. The member of BG and the member of GDX were unsure if their fraternities’ respective repercussions were due to violations of COVID-19 guidelines or stricter policing in general, and multiple students expressed concerns that it is unclear which rules are actually enforced.
On Jan. 14, provost David Kotz and executive vice president Rick Mills sent an email encouraging Dartmouth students to recommit to mask-wearing, and on Jan. 17, the College’s ban on social gatherings was lifted, but regulations still require that attendees are masked and that no food and drink are present.
A few days later, on Jan. 19, Safety and Security officers responded to a LiveSafe report about a gathering hosted by a Greek organization that resulted in a temporary immediate suspension by the Office of Greek Life on Jan. 21, according to an emailed statement from College spokesperson Diana Lawrence. She added that the incident is pending a conduct hearing.
Although Lawrence would not disclose which Greek organization was placed on temporary immediate suspension, a member of Bones Gate fraternity, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about his house’s situation, confirmed that BG is the house in question. The source added that prior to its temporary suspension, BG was not on probation.
The member of BG explained that the event that resulted in the suspension was a large social gathering that drew more guests than anticipated. According to the member, when Safety and Security officers arrived, they asserted that the gathering was too large and that the incident would be reported.
“Safety and Security followed up on all reported concerns,” Lawrence wrote. “There have been no patrol changes.”
Safety and Security director Keysi Montás declined to comment.
Although a hearing date has not yet been set, BG has been banned from hosting events until after the hearing; a violation could result in a longer suspension, the member of BG added.
Lawrence wrote that no other Greek organizations are currently on temporary immediate suspension, but she declined to disclose if any other fraternities are currently on probation, noting that the status “does not affect the ability of the organization to function normally.”
A member of Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about his house’s situation, said that GDX has been on probation since the end of fall term violation during one of Safety and Security’s routine walk-throughs. Although he said he believes the probation will end in one to two weeks, he added that he does not feel GDX has been able to function normally since the start of the probation due to the College’s policy prohibiting registered events involving food and beverages.
A member of Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, who also requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about his house’s situation, said that Beta has received warnings from Safety and Security officers, including one during a routine walkthrough on Jan. 26. According to the member, Safety and Security said the incident was Beta’s “last straw.”
“At the beginning of the term, they said they were not going to police anybody — but then it seems like they’ve been trying to police people ever since they said that they were going to try to avoid it,” the source said.
Chi Heorot fraternity vice president Erik Urbank ’22 said Safety and Security has ramped up the frequency of its walk-throughs “probably due to COVID-19 reasons.” He added that he believes Heorot has not acted “out of line.”
Students who have attended various social events at fraternity and sororities also said that Safety and Security has been less tolerant of gatherings recently.
“I've seen [Safety and Security] a lot more just patrolling around,” Lauren Kidman ’25 said. “This past Friday, I was in [Kappa Delta sorority], and I was just playing pong, and they did say ‘[Safety and Security] is here.’ Everyone just puts on a mask in case they come down because it seems like they’re being extra on patrol because of COVID-19.”
A member of the Class of 2024 in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about her experiences, said Safety and Security was “pretty lenient about [fraternity] parties last term,” and that “they’re starting to be more strict about it.”
She said that the spike in disciplining fraternity events reminds her of Safety and Security’s strict enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines in the 2020–21 academic year.
She added that, in her experience, fraternity members practice certain precautionary measures in case Safety and Security busts their parties.
“If we’re in a basement, most of the frat brothers usher us upstairs and hide us in rooms,” she said. “We stay up there until [Safety and Security] leaves.”
Although the member of Beta said that they “understand we’re still in a pandemic and are fully willing to comply,” he said he feels there is a sentiment among Beta members that they want more transparency about regulations they need to implement in order to avoid repercussions from Safety and Security.
The member of BG expressed a similar concern about unclear enforcement guidelines.
“If there’s no definitive benchmark — if they don’t give us any concrete details and just leave it quite wishy-washy or vague — then, of course, fraternities are going to get in trouble, or suspended, or put on probation because there’s no guidelines to live by,” the member of BG said. “To a degree, it’s good that they keep it vague, because that way, we can argue how we interpreted it, but then, it’s also sort of easy to get in trouble.”
The member of GDX added that he believes “inconsistent policing” is what has caused more fraternities to face consequences recently. Urbank expressed a similar sentiment, noting that he believes the severity of consequences depends on which Safety and Security officer arrives.
BG president Brian Lee ’22, Beta president Will Frohlich ’22 and GDX president Griffin Lehman ’22 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.