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College Admits to Misleading AD

On Monday we’ll reproduce the AD Board’s description of the College’s duplicity in offering the fraternity a near-term path to re-recognition — and then withdrawing that offer. But first, let’s review together the Hanlon administration’s own view of events. In that way, your perception of what unfolded will not be clouded by doubt about self-interest.

Needless to say, Phil Hanlon and Bill Helman indict themselves without anyone’s help. Talk about bait and switch. This paragraph should go down as a model of bureaucratic language that fails to obscure what is really happening:

Senior members of the College administration clearly sent mixed signals to representatives of the [AD] corporation. We regret that we now have to choose between harming the College’s relationship with a group of alumni who have contributed a great deal to Dartmouth and worked hard on behalf of their fraternity, and taking a step that would undermine the Moving Dartmouth Forward (MDF) initiative, a high-priority effort aimed at eliminating high-risk behavior and increasing inclusivity while strengthening Dartmouth’s longstanding commitment to leadership in teaching and learning.

Admire the administration for its brazenness. In essence, the paragraph says, ‘Sure we told you a number of things, but because we have other priorities now, we cannot respect the things that we told you.’ In the business world, someone who does this kind of thing goes right to the top of my “Never Deal With That SOB Again” list. Read on:

AD Letter March 13 Page1.jpg

AD Letter March 13 Page 2.jpg

AD Letter March 13 Page 3.jpg

The administration’s war on the fraternities is now in high gear.

Addendum: A Dartmouth parent writes in:

The double-dealing apparent in the Helman letter highlights some of the most disturbing aspects of the AD case, which are that:

(1) Dartmouth has effectively been given the power to deprive private property owners of the right to occupy their property or earn a fair return on it;

(2) the “judicial” procedure employed by Dartmouth to de-recognize or otherwise discipline Greek houses is a travesty of justice, in which an accused’s ability to present a defense is sharply curtailed; and

(3) Dartmouth has both institutional and economic conflicts of interest when exercising its judicial/zoning powers. The College can use de-recognition to further its policy of promoting MDF at the expense of the Greek system, while simultaneously devaluing property it wishes to acquire.

Under these circumstances, the ZBA’s claim that it was not incorporating Dartmouth’s recognition standards into the ordinance is incomprehensible. By making Greek houses’ zoning compliance contingent on recognition, the ordinance inarguably gives the College the power to alter the zoning status of a Greek house. The College’s power to use its own system of “adjudication” to pursue its economic and institutional objectives to the detriment of private property owners cries out for some solution. It must be fun to operate your own court system, answerable to no one.

Other areas of the law, like contracts and corporate law, have equitable principles to prevent the powerful from steamrolling the weak. At the very least, a judicial or quasi-judicial, body that is impartial and provides proper procedural safeguards should be required in cases where de-recognition is possible. The absence of such a body should render de-recognition invalid and unenforceable for zoning purposes.

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