Valley News Pines for the Good ‘Ol Days of the Student Life Initiative

In an editorial ostensibly about the return of Beta, the editors take a stroll down memory lane:

Tyler Frisbee, a senior who organized a campus rally last week at which the petition was presented to college administrators, made the point a little more directly in an interview with Valley News staff writer Peter Jamison. “Dartmouth has a long, and I would say unfortunate, history when it comes to gender relations at the college. The majority of our social spaces are fraternity basements, which are male-dominated. It can be a hard place for women to feel safe,” she said.

Indeed, there was something about this quotation that drove us back into the dusty archives from 1999, when the Student Life Initiative was first announced. President James Wright famously said then that the fraternity and sorority system “as we know it will not survive these changes,” adding that, “I don’t want to suggest that somehow the door is open to existing organizations to continue.” In this ringing declaration, “as we know it” was perhaps meant to be understood in the same way as “permanently” in “permanently derecognized.” In any case, Wright has long ago publicly regretted these comments, which generated an alumni backlash that reverberates to this day.

But what really struck us during this trip down memory lane was a quotation from Stephen Bosworth, then the chairman of the college’s board of trustees: “It’s not in the best interest of the students or the institution to allow a situation to exist in which there are social organizations of exclusion.” We couldn’t agree more, but we wonder if Dartmouth’s leaders still do.

Read the whole thing here.