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The Dartmouth
February 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Opinion Asks: A Post Frat Ban Term

How long should the frat ban be in effect — if at all?

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Last Tuesday the frat ban ended, allowing first-year students to attend events at Greek houses in which alcohol is served. This comes after a vote by the Greek Leadership Council to delay the end of the ban by 24 hours following campus concern surrounding the safety of Homecoming and Halloween weekend. Should the frat ban continue to end later in future years, or was this year’s delay unnecessary? What other changes do you suggest for the frat ban?

Freshmen are notorious for binge drinking; I’d bet money that the first-year class is responsible for more Good Sam calls than any other year. This is largely caused by the thrill of being free from supervision in the new college environment, and by many freshmen feeling they have to immediately start making the most of their college-party years. As long as these two factors hold true, then freshmen will continue to make dangerous drinking decisions no matter what environment they are placed into — the frat ban is just a way to make sure this reckless behavior isn’t taken advantage of by upperclassmen. As such, extending the frat ban to include one of the wildest weekends of the year makes sense, so that conflicts between the first-years and the rest of campus can be minimized; however, I don’t think it should be extended further. The longer the frat ban is held, the more excitement there will be when it lifts; extending it too far will cause many to compensate for time lost down the road. Nevertheless, this year’s delay was a good move that should be maintained into the future.

— Ramsey Alsheikh ’26

When I think back on the period after the frat ban ended for us last fall, I hardly remember stepping foot into a frat at all. In my (notably imperfect) recollection, there were only a few days between the conclusion of the frat ban and the inevitable ramp-up of academics in the final weeks of the term. For me, I was entirely underwhelmed by the end of the frat ban, and after playing a game or two of pong, I was ready to kick back my exploration of Webster Avenue to the winter. So while this experience is certainly anecdotal, I honestly believe that postponing the frat ban to the start of winter would benefit freshman and upperclassmen alike. If anything, those last few weeks can start to fracture the solidification of a friend group before a long winterim, meaning less social stability for the freshmen. Simultaneously, the added risk of freshmen flooding the basements of every frat damages the careful process of introducing new members into the fraternity, adding liability and removing opportunities for group bonding. To me, it’s a no-brainer, and a few years after changing the policy to winter, we’ll wonder why we ever had it end in the fall.

— Jeremy Gart ’25

I'm uncertain what freshmen lose if the frat ban were to be extended until the start of winter term. A few parties? The way the ban is currently set up, it really hypes its own end up far more than it’s worth. Freshmen eagerly await their chance to flood into the houses because they’ve been bottled up together talking about it and how exciting it will be when they can finally enter. But, I think I speak for many upperclassmen when I say that as the years go by, Greek life’s offerings turn out to be not as exciting as we thought. As a ’24, we had to wait a full year to enter the houses, and frankly, I enjoyed my social life beforehand better. By simply setting the frat ban end at a more logical date, we both keep freshmen safer and dispel some of those exaggerated expectations.

— Thomas Lane ’24

I do not have a particularly strong view on the frat ban. It works well as currently constituted, the decision to extend it this year by a day was probably the right move and I’m receptive to calls by reformers to extend it further in future fall terms to the beginning of the winter. 

However, all of this is quibbling around the edges of a policy that is treating a symptom of a much larger problem. Why do we insist on gender-segregated social spaces — 50 years after Dartmouth went co-ed — as our main gathering places on this campus? This causes all sorts of distortions. Men might find it easier to get into a Greek house they like (because there are 13 options, compared to eight sororities and three gender-inclusive houses). Most parties are held in spaces primarily run and occupied by men, and thus the distribution of what is a critical resource on this campus — alcohol for underage drinkers — is mostly controlled by men. And first-year students are socially encouraged to, as soon as possible, start getting to know these gender-segregated spaces, making the frat ban necessary to protect them. All of this is weird! 

The College should work with Greek houses to set some fraternities and sororities on a glide path toward coeducation, with the eventual goal of having more than half of total Greek houses integrated by gender. It should commit substantial resources to this cause, buying out nationally-owned houses and allowing certain banned fraternities to return as reformed coeducational houses if need be. This would be a start, and maybe, someday in the future, the frat ban can be done away with because the problems it addresses no longer exist.

— Kyle Mullins ’22

The timing of Homecoming this year shows why the frat ban ought to end later that it does now. If freshmen come to Greek houses for the first time just days after Homecoming, with alumni still around, that could have possibly disastrous results. But even with a more standard end to the ban relative to Homecoming, freshmen would be showing up right after fraternities rushed a new class. At that point, these new members barely know how to manage the responsibilities of hosting. The end of the fall is already precarious for this reason, and this is before adding freshmen who do not understand Greek house dynamics. Personally, I would be open to extending the frat ban through the end of the fall term. During these final weeks, Greek life is winding down anyway due to finals approaching and general end-of-term burnout. Instead, freshmen should use these last few weeks to cement friendships within their class heading into Winterim. Besides, a later end to the frat ban will give them something to look forward to other than a bleak Hanover winter.

— Thomas de Wolff ’24