Monday, January 14, 2008

Beta & AZD

So, Beta Theta Pi (or the now local version of it) is coming back to campus next fall and Alpha Xi Delta, which has been renting Beta's house for the last ten years, is now homeless.

I have no problem with the general notion of Beta's re-recognition, and certainly not with the desire of its alumni to see it return, but the college's handling of the situation has been terrible.

The administration's decision to reinstate Beta violates two major policies of the college. First, there are clear rules for the recognition of Greek organizations:
The following recognition policies and process apply to all new or returning organizations…Returning organizations are those who 1) once existed at Dartmouth and closed for non-disciplinary reasons; or 2) once existed at Dartmouth but as the result of disciplinary action were closed for a period of time with the opportunity to return at a future date clearly articulated as part of the disciplinary action.

Second, the college does not allow new or returning Greek organizations to receive recognition without a national affiliation. After being de-recognized at Dartmouth, Beta national revoked the chapter's charter. Today, Beta national is dry and so if Dartmouth Beta wants to rejoin, presumably they would need to follow those rules. The college is allowing Beta to be re-recognized therefore in clear violation of its rules mandating that fraternities be nationally affiliated. The Dartmouth article had the following:
Sipple [co-chairman of the Beta Board of Trustees] said that while the alumni group’s ultimate goal is to rejoin with Beta national, they are prepared to work with future members to determine if affiliation with a different national organization would better suit the needs of the group. It is College policy to only allow the addition of national fraternities and sororities to campus.
Does anybody believe this? Clearly, Dartmouth's Beta chapter is not going to go dry. And if they affiliate with another national, what really would be the point of re-recognition? They won't be Beta anymore. I would bet anybody that in ten years time Beta remains unaffiliated.

But what is the real problem with the administration breaking their own rules? First, CFS policies represent a sort of unofficial contract between the college and Greek organizations. If a house breaks them, they face probation and de-recognition. It is therefore very hypocritical for Dean Redman to claim that there is no problem with the college's disregard for their policies.

Furthermore, two years ago, a group of women organized in the hopes of forming a seventh sorority, what today is now thriving as Alpha Phi. They petitioned the college to allow it to form temporarily as a local sorority, promising to affiliate with a national as soon as an acceptable national organization was found. The same administrators who waived the rules for Beta this week refused to do so for the women. And this came at a time when a seventh sorority was desperately needed. The college is willing to be flexible with its rules for its disgraced fraternity but not to do so for the group of women who were well-intentioned and addressing a greater campus need. The lack of consistency - and integrity - with these decisions is appalling.

We all know it's about the money of course. But shouldn't the college stand on principles?


Anonymous said...

I'm betting that Beta does rejoin the national. The national might be "dry," but that doesn't mean every chapter has to be. Beta national would be so happy to have another Ivy chapter that it will waive the "dry" requirement. National alcohol rules are all based on insurance costs anyway, and if/when Beta uses college insurance instead of national insurance, the national won't have any reason to require it to be "dry." There is no way Beta will stay local.

Anonymous said...

It is all about money.

Deep pocketed Beta alums are behind the pressure on the College to ignore its own rules in re-recognizing this fraternity. Big ticket donors are behind the pressure on the trustees to reduce the influence of rank-and-file alumni through trustee elections. There may even be overlap here.

The timing of this is interesting. Why now, with such haste to move the sisters out? Maybe it is a political attempt by the Administration to re-build ties with conservative traditionalist alumni to win them back.

Anonymous said...

Dartmouth isn't moving the sisters out, Beta is. Beta could be re-recognized and keep renting the house out if it wanted to, but you can't blame it for wanting to occupy its old building. Dartmouth is doing the sororities a favor by finding them houses -- why whine about it? If the house is too far away, why not rent a house that's closer? And why does it seem hasty? The sisters have several months to find a new place.

And how did Dartmouth ignore its own rules in rerecognizing Beta?

Anonymous said...

The problem is the options Dartmouth is giving AZD for future housing are not in any way equivalent to the house it currently occupies on Webster. The proposed location is completely isolated from the rest of campus and at most will house 7 sisters. This is a far cry from the current 22 beds that AZD has with the house on Webster. This will definately hurt AZD in recruitment and also the influence the sorority has on campus. Considering the progress the sisterhood has made in the past 10 years (highest GPA on campus, strong recruitment numbers, recognition by AZD national and at the college's Order of Omega awards), the lack of support given to them by the administration is very upsetting.

Morever, the short notice leaves the sisters with no where to go for the summer quarter. Any argument that several months notice is sufficient to find new housing is absurd.

That aside, what is most concerning is the double standard used by the college when letting new greek organizations come to campus. Clearly the college feels no need to abide by its own rules and regulations. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

The college has bought up so much property in Hanover no options exist that are closer to campus. Another option presented to AZD is to occupy a floor on a dorm, which given the social scene at Dartmouth is not viable if the sorority is going to remain on campus.

Anonymous said...

"The problem is the options Dartmouth is giving AZD for future housing are not in any way equivalent to the house it currently occupies on Webster."

And that's Dartmouth's problem because... ?

AZD is renting a house from a private landlord. The landlord has ended the lease. Time to find a new house.

Dartmouth has stepped up and offered to rent its nearest available house. Why is AZD looking a gift horse in the mouth? Shouldn't it be thanking the college because it doesn't have to rent out by the Food Co-Op or something?

David Nachman said...

The house offered to AZD basically is by the Food Co-Op.

If fraternities and sororities were independent organizations, the college would have no responsible towards AZD in this situation. But instead, Greek organizations are endlessly regulated. The CFS office which administers the Greek system has 11 employees. The college has clearly adopted a parental, guardian-esque perspective to Greek oversight, in contrast to Princeton, for example, who's Greek system completely unregulated. But the relationship between the college and CFS organizations comes with a two-way responsibility. By involving themselves so closely with the Greek system, the administration also becomes responsible for the secondary consequences of their actions, namely AZD's exodus.

Anonymous said...

What if the college sold North Hall, on Choate Road, to AZD?

Also, who will populate Beta? Will all of GDX move to Beta?

Anonymous said...

The house offered to AZD is not by the Food Co-Op, it's actually closer than either F&S or Cobra. It's by Thompson.

Dartmouth knew that recognizing Beta would create a housing problem for AZD, and it did something about it. But if Beta was set to return with or without approval, as some have suggested, then it was going to have to find a new house no matter what. Dartmouth's regulation of sororities does not obligate it to give them housing, and it would be unfair and unwise of Dartmouth to subsidize fraternity/sorority housing anyway, wouldn't it? How would you feel if you learned part of your dorm rent went to reduce the rent for some frat?

Anonymous said...

Saying that the house is not by the co-op but rather thompson is splitting hairs.

Anonymous said...

"Dartmouth has stepped up and offered to rent its nearest available house. Why is AZD looking a gift horse in the mouth? Shouldn't it be thanking the college because it doesn't have to rent out by the Food Co-Op or something?"

This is not the nearest available house. There was a house at the end of Webster Ave up for sale about 3 months ago, but the College decided not to purchase it because it was too expensive. The College has allotted 1.5 million dollars to each of the two houses on South Park Street. Considering some of the fraternities closer to campus could sell for about 7 million, this isn't a lot of money. And honestly, a house where only 7 girls can live is not a sorority house.
The location of the house on S Park street is also a problem since the College is trying to move the center of campus North, with the new residential buildings (McLaughlin) and the plans of creating a new dining hall. So when the College actually succeeds in doing this, the sorority will be even farther away from the center of campus.

Anonymous said...

Given the current state of the Greek system at Dartmouth, I wonder how much the fraternities really want Beta to come back. Although it makes the administration appear more pro-greek than they have in the past, some of the houses struggle to fill their pledge classes each year and the presence of another fraternity to compete with will probably make things even more difficult for them now. Given the fact the football coach is a Beta, my guess is GDX will be the first to suffer, but with Zete scheduled to return as well I imagine other houses will face recruitment problems as well.

Anonymous said...

"There was a house at the end of Webster Ave up for sale about 3 months ago, but the College decided not to purchase it because it was too expensive."

What house was that? Aren't all the houses on Webster either owned by the college or frats/co-ed organizations?

Anonymous said...

The difference between Thompson and the Food Co-Op is not "splitting hairs." The co-op is not even on campus maps, but Thompson is, along with other sports venues and multiple campus organizations (F&S and Cobra). Saying that South Park is beneath the dignity of AZD is an insult to KKG and Amarna, isn't it? They are nearly as far, certainly beyond Park and out of ordinary student visibility (unlike the new AZD).

Anonymous said...

KKG, even though the house is reasonably close to Herot and AD, still has trouble filling beds in the house given its distance from the main campus. A few summers ago KKG was closed over the summer because they could not meet their occupancy requirements, and there is a requirement for sisters to live in the house for a set period of time since no one wants to live there.

The proposed location of AZD is even father away. Also, people at F&S and Cobra have car pools to their Monday night meetings given how far away the houses are from campus. The proposed location for AZD will isolate the chapter from campus and is not sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Would AZD have become the the successful sorority that it is today if Beta had not rented them their prime house on Webster Ave. back when AZD first formed? Having the house was an advantage for AZD to build their membership over the past 10 year it seems to me . . .

Anonymous said...

"The proposed location for AZD will isolate the chapter from campus and is not sufficient."

Then AZD should find some other house! Everyone seems to agree that the new house is inferior in every way to the old one. AZD should do something about it, and it shouldn't expect someone else to take responsibility for such a fundamental element of the organization as where it lives.

Anonymous said...

Many have scoffed at concerns that the College is growing physically too large to maintain its special character. Yet now this concern about the long distance between the northern and southern ends of the "campus".

It is time for Dartmouth to come to grips that it needs to find ways to grow beyond more people, more land, more buildings, more programs, all of which require more money.

Anonymous said...

There have been lots of comments about AZD not having sufficient notice about Beta's plans to reoccupy their house. I would like to point out that Alyssa Robins, ther president of AZD, acknowledges that discussions about alternative living space with the college began last Spring 2007 (see article below).

It appears that the College and Beta were more transparent and sensitive to timing with AZD than we have previously been lead to believe.

Anonymous said...

"Yet now this concern about the long distance between the northern and southern ends of the 'campus'."

The distance between Leverone/Thompson and the med school was set in the 1960s, wasn't it? Aren't the McLaughlin dorms closer to the green than the River Cluster, which is being reduced or phased out as a dorm? Is the campus actually getting smaller while its concentrations of functions shift around?

Anonymous said...

No, not really.

Anonymous said...

yes, it is. The entrance to Dick's House even moved closer to the center.

Anonymous said...

Has nobody pointed out that since Beta was derecognized, Dartmouth has built building after building after building....without ever setting aside any space for a sorority?

Don't blame Beta for wanting to come back. Any group of alumni who feel a connection to a physical house will want to "come back".

Blame the planners at Dartmouth who have had ample opportunity to BUILD a sorority house or two. Instead they have built a ton of academic buildings, a ton of athletic buildings and new dorms for graduate students. Imagine Sorority row down tuck mall? Or relocation of some of the tennis courts around the gym in favor or a sorority?

Anonymous said...

How many of the new buildings are frats? How many frats has Dartmouth ever built? None. Frats build or buy their own houses. Sororities should do the same.

Why should Dartmouth subsidize the Greek system? It doesn't subsidize individual students who rent off campus, so why should it give unfair rental subsidies to a sorority? Are you saying women can't get organized and raise money? Or do you think all Greek houses should benefit from multimillion-dollar gifts from Dartmouth?

Anonymous said...

“unfair rental subsidies”?? If you think that is what a fraternity, sorority or coed house is all about then I’m sorry. I hope you found something beyond academics at Dartmouth that really meant something to you. There were certainly plenty of options. Athletics, clubs, drama…any of those offered experiences that were just as rich and rewarding as being in the greek system. However, for some of us, many of us in fact, the greek system was a huge part of our Dartmouth experience. There is nothing wrong with the college supporting a greek system that plays such a large role in the experience of its students.

Believe me, if Dartmouth made an announcement that they were going to set aside a few acres of land on Tuck Mall for 2-3 new sororities and started a capital drive to pay for the construction, they would get the money in a matter of weeks. And it would be “new” money. There are a LOT of Dartmouth alums who feel that their Dartmouth experience was shaped by their participation in the greek system. When such alums perceive that the College no longer values that system, the alums begin to disconnect from Dartmouth. SLI was a huge blow to the College. It set in motion all of the bullshit that is going on today. If the administration would admit what a mess SLI was and embrace the greek system again, they would find that we are here waiting. We would fund the construction of new sororities in a heartbeat, without draining the endowment or negatively impacting any departmental budgets.

So to answer your question- Do I think that all greek houses should benefit from multimillion-dollar gifts from Dartmouth? No, certainly not. Greek alumni fund their own houses quite well. But should Dartmouth call on its alumni to fund additional sororities, yes it should. It is actually an opportunity for the college to heal some wounds and improve gender dynamics at Dartmouth at the same time.

Anonymous said...

"We would fund the construction of new sororities in a heartbeat, without draining the endowment or negatively impacting any departmental budgets."

Then do it. Why do you need the college to do the asking, instead of the sororities that actually want to build houses? There is nothing stopping the alumnae and members of any sorority that wants to buy a house from asking their own members and all alums for money.

Why are you so interested in painting the sororities as weak and unable to act? What's wrong with the College doing as it has done with every other similar group, which is to let it raise money for itself instead of doing its work for it? Dartmouth women are not as ineffective as you think, or as determined to receive handouts based on their gender.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know what your problem is, but I never suggested that Dartmouth women are weak. Far from it. I know, I married one.

But the administration has to give its blessing for the inclusion of any new house into the system and they control most of the good land in Hanover. Having them put the stamp of approval would speed up the process considerably. Could it happen without them? Maybe. But it wouldn’t take much effort on their part. People don’t like giving money to concepts, they like a nice firm plan with the blessing of an authority. Dartmouth’s involvement would give instant credability to the project.

You are right, eventually a student group would form that would lead that effort or alums that have enough time to fight the battle with the administration to make it happen. Why are you so against the College making the task easier? It has nothing to do with the capabilities of Dartmouth women, it is about speeding up the process.

Anonymous said...

We've gone from the idea that Dartmouth should give sororities houses to the idea of Dartmouth just speeding up the process of sororities building their own houses. I'm all for that. Dartmouth should offer close-in vacant lots to sororities at market rates, with conditions, and encourage them to raise money to build.

Dartmouth would be more likely to build a couple houses for its own purposes and rent them to sororities at market rates, with conditions. If the organizations fold or get punished, Dartmouth can then rent the houses to other groups. This is not an act of charity for sororities, it is a way of keeping groups in line, as Dartmouth does with Alpha Chi or Heorot.

Anonymous said...

What about starting a second greek row near the Psi U, Sigma Delt, Theta Delt area? It's about as far from the center of campus as webster avenue.

I'm sure the college would be able to buy up some of that rental housing (ABCD apartments, etc). Landlord who are only interested in profit will be much more motivated to sell than greek organizations. If the land is to be used for sororities (who can't drink in their houses), then the town is much more likely to not fight it. Anything would be an improvement over those current buildings.

Anonymous said...

That plan is far too logical for the Dartmouth administration.

Anonymous said...

That plan is also too expensive. That area is zoned for commercial development. There is no way Dartmouth could be expected to go out of its way to spend millions buying one lot that it would turn around and rent to students at dorm rates. Never mind the cost of building a sorority house. Instead of asking the college to do for sororities what it has not done for fraternities, why not ask what sororities can do for themselves?

[Sigma Delt is an exception. The college got it for cheap decades ago and might even have benefited from a right of first refusal.]

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