Some fraternity and sorority houses are discovering that probation is as much a part of Greek life as parties and Wednesday meetings.
Currently, four Coed Fraternity Sorority houses are under full social restrictions, and one house, Alpha Delta fraternity, is on probation for the rest of the term, according to the Office of Residential Life.
From fall 1995 to fall 1996, the CFS Judiciary Committee heard about 60 cases, according to former Marty Dengler ’97, the former chair of the JC.
But he said of those 60 violations, over 20 were “filling out forms” violations or clean grounds cases, and 30 to 35 were alcohol or other serious violations.
Dengler said he thinks it is important to put the violations in perspective. With 1,600 students in the Greek system and about 35 violations, there is one violation per 45 students.
Crime and punishment
The College uses probation to punish violations such as possession of unregistered kegs. Dengler said the number of houses on probation varies widely, although the current four “is more than we like to see.”
Henry Rosevear ’98, vice president of the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council and the chair of the CFS Judiciary Committee, said full social restrictions prevent Greek houses from holding registered parties or having alcohol in an area other than the private bedrooms of members over the age of 21.
The duration of probation periods varies but is usually one to two months, Rosevear said. An automatic fine of $100 is levied for each unregistered keg found in a Greek house, in addition to a social restriction sanction if the house has past violations.
But sometimes a house may face only partial social restrictions if there “is a good excuse for having the keg, like if an alum snuck it in the back door,” Rosevear said.
“I think social probations are an appropriate sanction for keg violations — the punishment should fit the crime,” he said. “The monetary fine is good, too, because some houses have strict social budgets, and this could deter them from having unregistered kegs.”
But Dengler said the Judiciary Committee is also trying to move toward recommending more creative sanctions, instead of the traditional fines or probation.
“If leadership is the problem, a fine doesn’t address that,” Dengler said. “We are taking steps to levy more appropriate sanctions and make sure we don’t see these anomalous rises in cases.”
Other sanctions can include forbidding rush or mandating retreats, according to Rosevear.
For example, Theta Delta Chi fraternity received full social restrictions for two weeks last term and was asked to organize a retreat “to go over officer responsibilities and set chapter goals” for failing to write a letter of apology on deadline for violating its statement of purpose and the Dartmouth Community Standards of Conduct.
The role of the JC
The Judiciary Committee hears all cases against Greek houses, but is currently only an advisory board to the Office of Residential Life, which makes all final decisions.
And with cases of alleged CFSC rules violations almost always pending, the Judiciary Committee is one of the busiest student groups on campus.
Rosevear said the committee and the College sometimes disagree over punishment, although he declined to discuss specific cases.
Dengler said houses are brought before the JC often because of “a random coincidence or someone making a bad decision and trying to avoid a rule and Safety and Security being in the right place at the right time and catching them.”
The JC has recently tried to “enforce the minimum and encourage the maximum” with sanctions, Dengler said.
“We’re actually seeing almost all houses stop having repeat problems, even when we have over a third of the membership coming in anew every year and having to learn a large body of rules,” he said.
The Judiciary Committee meets Tuesdays to discuss possible violations from the previous weekend, Rosevear said. If the committee decides there is a case against a house, the house president is invited to come in the next Tuesday to defend his or her organization at a hearing.
Rosevear said the JC is committed to giving sanction decisions by noon of the Wednesday following the hearing, since the last day to register a party for the weekend is Wednesday afternoon.
He said Assistant Dean of Residential Life Deb Reinders decides all first-level cases, and Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco rules on second-level cases, such as the recent Beta Theta Pi recognition revocation.
Reinders decides at which level to hear potential cases, and the process for a second-level case “is more rigid and procedurally defined,” according to Rosevear.
Any sanction can arise from a second-level hearing, even derecognition, while sanctions for a first-level case must be less severe than suspension.
Considering the past
Each winter, all houses start with a clean record with the committee.
“This makes a lot more sense seeing that officers start then and houses won’t get bogged down for things that happened before the new officers,” Dengler said.
A house’s record starts clean again Summer term, but in the fall all three prior terms remain on a house’s record. Previous records are considered in deciding sanctions for violations.
For example, Chi Heorot and Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternities were both fined $300 for the possession of three unregistered kegs last term, but Chi Gam was also given a two-week social restriction because it had past violations.
Currently Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and Chi Gam are on full social restrictions because of unregistered kegs. Zeta Psi fraternity is on probation for “allowing a minor access to alcohol in the basement,” according to ORL.
Phi Delt and Zete regain social privileges on Feb. 3. Chi Gam regains privileges Jan. 30.