Faculty Vote in Support of Fraternity Abolition

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

A Monday night vote by a portion of Dartmouth faculty resulted in a 116-13-3 decision to support elimination of the College’s longstanding, oft-hailed, and oft-criticized Greek system. This comes less than a week after an open letter to President Hanlon published by a handful of faculty members calling for an end to “gender-segregated, exclusive, hierarchical organizations that are antithetical to the core values of the College.”

The original letter cited a plethora of studies that seem to support the notion that fraternities exacerbate rape scenarios and was contemptuous of any “cosmetic reform.” The letter also supposes that “voices from many campus constituencies are clear” in pointing towards abolition, a claim that can be called into question by the 70% of eligible students who participate in Greek life. The letter further criticizes rush for wasting student energy (a legitimate claim, though for only one week a term at most), a decline in applications due to Greek culture (even though this year’s early decision applications are at a record high and up 10% year over year), and the possibility of power struggles coming from half-measures (a spit in the face for proponents of any sort of compromise).

The faculty also draw attention to other colleges that have abolished their Greek systems, citing the advertising advantage of no Greek system in addition to the fact that none have reneged on their decision. Ultimately, it would be very difficult to revert back to a Greek system once it has been abolished, just as it would be difficult to abolish a system already in place. The time and energy required to enact such change would render any sort of readjustment wasteful and poor from a business perspective, especially with the number of Greek chapters that are independent from national organizations or the College itself.

The open letter received significant support from a number of faculty since the initial publication. By Monday morning, according to Dartblog, the letter had garnered 168 signatures composing 29% of the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences (The Dartmouth later reported 232 signatures). The biology department led in number of supporters of the letter, with 17. Other departments with significant representation in support of abolition of the Greek system include the Spanish/Portuguese department with 14, English and Mathematics with 11, and German, Physics/Astronomy, and History with eight. Ultimately, not all of the faculty members who supported the motion were in attendance at the meeting, with only 132 voting at the faculty meeting.

Thankfully for the Greek system’s supporters, the faculty’s vote has no real direct bearing on potential abolition. Indeed, the significant majority of faculty did not even attend the meeting, and thus were not able to cast a vote for or against the Greek system. Furthermore, the faculty has repeatedly voted for abolition to no effect. Still, the lack of support shown from the faculty for a system that brings a variety of good things to the College, its students, and the community is disheartening to many who call this College home.