Changes in the Wind?

Aug 19 2014

What to make of this Wall Street Journal article? It announces nothing, but it does seem to put everyone on notice that new policies regarding the Dartmouth Greek system are in the offing:

WSJ Frat Comp.jpg

Is the piece part of a scripted PR campaign to prepare the College for a major fall term announcement about frats? Given the press pieces that I noted yesterday, one could come to that conclusion. Ostensibly policy is still being formulated, but the Trustees have a long history of deciding first and then forming the committee later, so anything is possible.

In any event, before the administration rushes off and abolishes/restructures the 30 houses in the Greek system, we might ask a few questions and note a few facts:

● Membership in Greek houses as risen 27.5% over the past decade (+29.4% for fraternities; +15.4% for sororities; and +17.3% for co-ed houses). Participation in Greek life at the College is at an all-time high today: 67.4% of upperclass students are members (2,213 out of 3,282 eligible students). Students seem to be voting with their feet in favor of Greek houses. How much does the legendary loyalty of Dartmouth alumni have to do with the bonds forged as Greeks?

● Are the statistics for sexual assault, binge drinking and other banned activities lower at schools without an important system of fraternities and sororities, especially ones that have banned Greek life altogether on campus in the past, like Williams and Bowdoin, etc.? If not, one has to seriously wonder about the cause and effect relationship between fraternities and inappropriate behavior. In making major changes, would we be throwing out the baby with the bath water?

● Greek students have GPAs just slightly above the unaffiliated-student average.

● Dartmouth will not have a new Dean of the College to replace the hapless Charlotte Johnson before the summer of 2015 at the very earliest (a search committee has not yet been formed). Is it conceivable that major changes to student life will be enacted this fall without an administrator to oversee them? And how easy will it be to recruit a new Dean if the College is in chaos due to major changes in a central area of student life?

The people who are the most severe critics of the Greek houses often seem to be people who spend no time in them. Let's hope that this decade's effort to reform the system is the product of knowledgeable reflection and not animated by ignorance and prejudice.

Back

Damned Lies and Statistics

Aug 18 2014

The Huffington Post put out a breathless headline the other day: Hundreds Call On Dartmouth To Overhaul Its Powerful Greek System. The D was not far behind: Online Suggestions Point to Abolishing Greek Life. Let's play the same game, but with the opposite goal: Only 0.3% of Dartmouth Community Wants to Abolish Greeks.

Greek Vote.jpgWhere does that tiny number come from? Start with 75,787 alumni; add 3,443 staffers; 1,059 faculty members; and 6,342 students. Those figures sum up to 86,631 members of the Dartmouth community who could vote on the future of frats and sororities.

In fact, fewer than 600 people cast votes on the Moving Dartmouth Forward website as regards the Greek system, and less than half of them (only about 43%) voted to abolish the Greeks. The others has different suggestions. To whose headline should we listen?

The College seems to have a stats problem. For example, negotiations with the Freedom Budgeters seems to be ongoing, but for whom do these 30 or so disgruntled students speak? Not for the student body, that's for sure. The FBers bore no petitions with thousands of names, nor any other evidence of broad-based support. They speak only for themselves: 30 students out of 6,342. That's 0.5% -- one in two hundred students.

No mandate there either.

Addendum: If the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils wanted to be clever, they could get word out to their members that voting for the preservation of the Greek system would influence the Moving Dartmouth Forward committee. I wonder if a surge in votes in this direction would lead to different headlines in the HuffPost and The D.

Back

More Rankings

Aug 17 2014

While the College was not included in the Princeton Review's Top 20 LGBT friendly colleges, we did make the Campus Pride Top 50 -- with a picture no less in LGBTQNation:

Campus Pride Comp1.jpg

Meanwhile, Forbes ranked the College #10 in the nation in entrepreneurial activity and support:

10 Dartmouth College

Dartmouth's Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) has provided support for over 500 projects and companies since 2001.

Back