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Dartmouth Greek Life mandates not likely for UA

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 13, 2000
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As the greek population of Dartmouth College searches for avenues to halt the changes proposed by a shocking new initiative, UA administrators and fraternity members yesterday expressed the opinion that chapters here will not require the same measures.

Released on Monday, the Dartmouth College Committee on the Student Life Initiative's recommendations would "relate to organizational practices, selection and initiation practices, residence and membership requirements and physical standards for facilities."

A five-year review period will give Dartmouth administrators time to determine whether it is in the college's best interest to continue to recognize fraternity and sorority chapters that maintain a place of residence for members.

Last fall, the University of Arizona saw a revision of greek policies when the Interfraternity Council passed a resolution that will phase out parties involving alcohol consumption.

The UA changes will also take place over the next five years.

The IFC's resolution was proposed and passed by the members as a pro-active measure to monitor themselves without UA administrative instigation.

"We empower and inform our students because they are the keepers of their community," said Bob Gordon, UA coordinator of Greek Life programs. "The Greek Life policies are student policies."

The mandates laid out by the Dartmouth steering committee have sparked an uproar of opposition amongst the greek community at the college, whose traditions have achieved fame as the premise for the film Animal House. Fraternity and sorority members have countered by calling for the removal of Dartmouth President James Wright in an online petition.

At any time during the five-year review, Wright can decide the greek system is not meeting the steering committee criteria. Even if the review concludes that greek organizations will be recognized, "it should proceed to consider whether the selective social organizations should be allowed to continue to offer residence," the initiative stated.

UA Dean of Students Melissa Vito said she does not foresee any need to remove chapter houses as an option for student housing.

"I don't see the UA moving in that direction," she said. "One of the problems that Dartmouth has is that it has no other options for social interaction."

Dartmouth's chapters are now only allowed to house students with senior standing and a few junior officers.

The UA has no similar policy and no resolution has been proposed to date by the IFC.

"I think limiting the option (to live in a chapter house) to only seniors is no solution," said Todd Sommers, Sigma Phi Epilson president. "Alcohol in the houses is a threat to the members and eventually we're going to be completely dry."

In order to ease the strain created by limiting which students can live in the houses, another initiative recommendation is to "create a greatly enhanced system of residential clusters."

New residential halls and social spaces will be built to make on-campus housing a more attractive alternative at Dartmouth.

In the past few years, the UA has purchased two former greek residences - the Tau Kappa Epsilon house and the Alpha Chi Omega house - and converted them into on-campus housing.

"From a housing point of view, whether the chapters exist or not is not the issue," said James Van Arsdel, UA director of Residence Life. "It's whether the houses are still there that really matters."

Chris Tompkins, former Pi Kappa Phi president, said getting rid of chapter houses may be a futile attempt to fix substance abuse problems.

"I don't think that will eliminate the problem because we've all heard stories about pot and alcohol usage in the dorms," said Tompkins, a marketing and Italian senior.

The steering committee also suggests that education concerning alcohol and other drugs be added to Greek Life.

Last fall's IFC resolution requires the same type of instruction for fraternity members.

"Our recent policy was ahead of the game," Gordon said. "It proves that (the IFC) has been more able to respond."

The action Dartmouth has taken could alter the greek lifestyle nationally if the chapter houses are banned.

"You're going to have resistance with any plan like that and I'd be interested to see whether or not there was any student influence," Gordon said.

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