[Print] Reform Students, Not Fraternities

The Huffington Post recently published an article about Dartmouth written by an ’07 titled “Devil in the Night: Frat Culture at Dartmouth.” Go right ahead and add Ezra Tzfadya’s fairy tale of evil fraternities to the collection of sensationalist, unhelpful, controversial-for-the-sakeof-controversy articles depicting Dartmouth as this hellish place where innocent fun goes to die, and blaming the Greek system for all the social problems at Dartmouth that have been piling up this past year. 
Dartmouth College does indeed have some incredibly deep-rooted social problems. A frightening percentage of our students engage in high-risk drinking frequently. Dartmouth is still very much a man’s world. Yes, the fraternity basements can get pretty nasty and unhygienic. Yes, there is sexual assault as there is on every college campus. Many of those assaults are hushed up due to shame or to victims not even being sure about what happened. Some victims would prefer to never know. 
I’ve certainly been that freshman girl with fuzzy memories and the grim realization that I wasn’t at all in control of the previous night’s events, and I know all too well that I am not alone. And there is absolutely a disturbing lack of respect for women on this campus. However, Tzfadya also makes the troubling assertion that “dawn hushed the anguish” of students who drank themselves to the brink of alcohol poisoning or women who were assaulted while intoxicated. Dawn does nothing to ease that kind of pain and regret. We don’t need to take back our Dartmouth night; we need to take back our Dartmouth. The sexism, racism, and alcohol dependency that plagues this campus does not fade away with the sunrise…and there is no such thing as the devil as convenient as that would be. There’s only us.
The problem we have is not a fraternity problem, a sorority problem, or even an alcohol problem. It is a problem of self-respect as a student body. The self-respect as a student body to walk a woman home when she’s had too much and leave her untouched. The self-respect of women to not feel the need to “hook up” in order to feel better about yourself. The self-respect to avoid booting at all costs.
The first and most successful of the would-be Dartmouth muckrakers
I do agree that the students need to take back our Dartmouth. We can be gross, sexist, crude, and even cruel. 
However, shutting the doors to the fraternities would not be beneficial in the slightest. You don’t need frat houses with bedrooms, basement troughs, and pong tables to cultivate rape, dangerously high BACs, alcoholism, or the mistreatment of fellow human beings. Plenty of times all you need is a lack of empathy or a touch of self-loathing. Unfortunately, Dartmouth has those two in spades. If the fraternities were shut down, the drinking would go to a different kind of underground—residence halls, where nothing is regulated and liquor is more common than Keystone Light. Despite the hysterics of adults and wouldbe muckrakers, light beer is far less dangerous than the hard liquors that define our sister schools’ social scenes. No risk management, registered kegs, S&S walkthroughs, Green Team, no threats of probation…those all add up to a recipe for disaster.
Don’t believe me? Just think about Dimensions. The Greek system will essentially shut down while prospective students are here. As a UGA, I’m terrified, and so are my fellow staff members and our Community Director, because the drinking will then be facilitated by the hosts of prospective students behind closed doors in dorm rooms. We will see more than just pre-gaming—we’ll see pre-gaming that just becomes the main event. The risk of blacking out, causing harm to yourself or others, and regretting your night practically double when people are drinking in unregulated settings like the dorms—this is why they’re so dangerous. Big parties at fraternities are actually the safest place to be because S&S is well aware of them.
If you have a problem with the Dartmouth culture, and you speak out about your issues with it, I applaud you. I do not applaud proffering ridiculously counterproductive solutions. Condemning the Greek system does nothing but condemn the Greek system. Plenty of students have actually found a great deal of much-needed support and closeness in a fraternity or sorority. Since I joined my sorority, I’ve significantly reduced the amount of drinks I have in a night and don’t feel a need to go out to a fraternity. And when I do choose to, I have sisters by my side so that I don’t feel so vulnerable or alone, and I certainly don’t feel that need to grab another Keystone to dispel insecurities.
Let’s talk real solutions. Real solutions come from open, honest, frank discussion about our culture and what needs to change. Not hiding it and forcing it underground. Putting frats on probation doesn’t do a thing for the amount of student visits to the DHMC. You know what does? The BASICS programs and UGAs reporting incidents of drinking, depression, personal trauma or disruptions to the residence hall communities. BASICS allows students to confront their drinking in an open, judgment-free way without any risk of punishment and come to the realization on their own that they often binge drink because something else is going on in their lives, or that the amount they drink is unnecessary. Sounds cheesy, but it works. So does the floor UGA reporting odd behavior or a resident feeling lonely. When that report matches up with an report of dangerous drinking from S&S, we can make real progress. 
What also works is SAAP, EDPA, SexPerts, Green Team, and all those student-driven initiatives to change the way Dartmouth functions as a society. Trust me, I’m very tired of sexual assaults being met with a lack of support for the survivor, shame, and little to no disciplinary and judicial action. However, being as frustrating tragedies like Rehtaeh Parson’s death and the Steubenville rapes didn’t require a frat culture, destroying our Greek system will do no good at all. We exemplify a subset of a universal problem, and we need to take action in ways that don’t assume our problems are caused by the uniqueness of Dartmouth. That, to me, is also “hiding behind the uniqueness of Dartmouth,” Mr. Tzfadya.
Also, we don’t play Beirut. Before critiquing the Dartmouth frat scene, you should probably get to know it. Otherwise, your critiques are pretty useless, aren’t they? 
– Meghan Hassett