Greek leaders and College administrators are predicting tensions between them will ease in coming weeks as negotationsfix misperceptions and communication failures on both sides.
Dean of the College James Larimore is overseeing talks between the Greek Leadership Council, Interfraternity Council and College administrators to answer questions, listen to concerns and separate fact from fiction on future College policy.
Dartmouth Greek community leaders have expressed increased concern since the start of Winter term that the College may be tightening the reigns of the Student Life Initiative and efforts to curtail Greek life at Dartmouth. The result has been strained relations between College and Greek leaders.
“In a lot of ways, we believe the administration isn’t listening to us,” IFC President Jonathan Lazarow ’05 said.
Fraternity presidents have talked about potential protests during notable weekends such as Winter Carnival, Green Key and Dimensions, but Lazarow said this was merely a response to the perception that their concerns were not being considered.
In the light of recent efforts by Larimore and other College administrators, though, such threats have been discarded.
“We’re getting a clear understanding of our misinterpretations,” Lazarow said. “We have to work on things; they have to work on things.”
Over the course of the next three to four months, Lazarow anticipates policy changes where compromise will satisfy both the College and Greek leadership. Greek leaders are petitioning for decreased permanence of house judicial records, the advancement of rush and reforms of the Organizational Adjudication Committee, which deals with house sanctions.
Larimore confirmed that contrary to rumor, only two Greek houses are on probation. No houses are being investigated for possible derecognition. Instead, “We’ve got a lot of houses that have had some relatively minor problems where the OAC has issued sanctions to improve practices,” Larimore said. He believes that “people are talking it up …when there really isn’t any conspiracy.”
As a result of conversations between the GLC and Larimore, College Proctor Harry Kinne is reviewing officer training procedures, Associate Dean of Student Life Joe Cassidy is addressing concerns with party registration and Office of Residential Life is reviewing its annual action plan process.
Lazarow offered praise for the dean in what he describes as the administration’s “willingness to work with us.” Just a few weeks ago, this senitment seemed to be missing, largely contributing to the negative consensus among Greek leaders and supporters. “For the first time in a long time, Larimore is going to sit down with the Greek leadership,” Lazarow said.
Larimore said that “meeting with the GLC executive committee was helpful because it was the first time in a while that that number of us were in the same room at the same time talking about student concerns with administrators from different parts of the College to give an insider’s view.”
“I’ve tried to make clear that the Board [of Trustees] has a commitment to having a Greek system at Dartmouth. We also believe the standard ought to be higher,” Larimore said.
“We wouldn’t put our time and effort into [addressing Greek concerns] if we were waiting to drop the axe. We wouldn’t have put all our time and effort into resolving [unfair] insurance practices against the houses.”
“I wouldn’t have spent so much time with the Treasurer and others trying to line up an $8 to 10 million loan fund to help take care of facility improvements,” he continued. “We wouldn’t have re-recognized Phi Delt … only to knock them down again.”
Lazarow acknowledged Larimore’s support of the Greek system, saying “that in and of itself is a major victory from a year ago. There’s been a change in his cooperation–and ours, for that matter.”
The IFCs appreciates “the fact that he’s taking the time to respond,” he added.
Larimore believes that there are and perhaps always will be doubtful and dissenting students and alumni, who are at best misguided on his and the College’s true intentions.
“There are folks who for the last five years have believed the College has its hands on the switch and we’re about to fry the Greek system,” he said. “Hopefully were going through the last round of people having that worry.”