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Dartmouth plans to revise Greek system, residential life

As the Princeton community struggles to grow into this year's new alcohol initiative, Dartmouth College took a crucial step Monday toward its goals of controlling alcohol abuse on campus and improving student life.

Dartmouth's Committee on the Student Life Initiative released a comprehensive list of recommendations, which included reconstructing the Greek System and creating a dormitory system similar to Princeton's residential colleges.


Last year, Dartmouth's campus was in an uproar after its board of trustees announced its intention to eliminate the Greek system. Though the Student Life Initiative Committee has not called for an end to Dartmouth's Greek system, it has recommended that new rules be established to control it.

The restrictions include eliminating tap rooms and pledge periods, allowing only seniors and juniors who are officers to live in fraternity and sorority houses, and raising physical standards for the buildings. Many Dartmouth students see these recommendations as direct threats to Greek life because they will require chapters to expand their memberships and raise considerable funds for house renovations.

"The recommendations were very distressing to those of us who participate in the Greek system," said Dartmouth junior Dan Mahoney, president of Psi Upsilon. "The recommendations are a not-so-veiled attempt by the college to squeeze fraternities out of the campus' culture."


One-third of Dartmouth's student body participates in the Greek system, which includes 28 fraternities, according to The Associated Press.

"We have one of the most inclusive Greek systems. Everyone on campus is allowed to come to our parties," Mahoney said. "[The Greek system] has become the scapegoat for the college's larger problems."

However, many students believe the college has the right to blame the Greek system for alienating members of the student body and were disappointed that the recommendations did not eliminate the fraternities.


"The Greek system is anti-intellectual, promoting destructive drinking habits and in-group affiliations. The fraternities alienate minority students and strain gender relations," said Dartmouth senior Teresa Knoedler, an executive on Dartmouth's student assembly.

Responding yesterday to Dartmouth's recommendations, Princeton's Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan pointed out the differences between Dartmouth's goals and Princeton's alcohol initiative.

"Our trustees' focus was on alcohol abuse alone. Dartmouth's effort has a broader scope," Deignan said. "Our trustees were very careful not to impose ideas from the top down."

Aside from its recommendations revising Greek life, Dartmouth's student life committee also proposed several changes intended to improve social life in dormitories, moving Dartmouth's system closer to a residential-college arrangement. The suggestions include expanding communal spaces in residential areas, constructing two new 350-bed "clusters," and adding large social spaces to new and existing clusters.

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"We were looking for ways to improve the quality of campus life and social spaces for students," said Dartmouth Dean of the College James Larimore, who sits on the committee.

Dartmouth's board of trustees will review the recommendations at the beginning of the spring term to decide whether they met the goals they had set forth in February 1999.