College re-recognizes Zete, ends colony status

Zete's campus presence was solidified in November after students and alumni collaborated to complete the process necessary for re-recognition.

Correction Appended###

Following collaboration between students and alumni, the College formally re-recognized Zeta Psi fraternity on Nov. 22, 2011, ending the organization’s colony status, Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Director Wes Schaub said.

Zete was permanently de-recognized in May 2001 for the publication of “sex papers.” The internal newsletters, distributed secretly within the house, included lewd references to sexual acts between brothers and named female students. The newsletters also promised the publication of date rape techniques, among other topics.

In winter 2007, the chapter’s alumni association and the College agreed on a set of terms for re-recognition. The terms included a “dark period,” in which the physical plant had to be vacated and renovated to comply with building codes. The fraternity ceased its operations which had been continuing unofficially since it was de-recognized for two years and made extensive repairs to the physical plan.

Zete resumed campus involvement in fall 2009 under colony status, beginning the two-year College-mandated process that is required for any Greek organization seeking re-recognition.

Representatives met with former Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman, former GLOS Director Deborah Carney and various alumni bodies in fall 2009 to determine a plan that would set the house on the path to re-recognition, according to former GLOS Director Kristi Clemens. The plan included agreements to keep up maintenance of the physical plant and to recruit new members. The fraternity participated in men’s rush in fall 2009 for the first time in eight years after having fulfilled the College’s requirements to begin the re-recognition process.

Groups must prove that they can function as a stable organization before being granted additional privileges, including hosting social events with alcohol.

In December 2010, the Interfraternity Council recommended that the College re-recognize Zete.

During the re-recognition process, the organization and the College had a misunderstanding regarding the billing charges associated with roadway repairs that occurred during construction, Schaub said.

“There was some information from Zeta Psi that was outstanding, and until it was not outstanding, they could not be officially re-recognized.” Schaub said. “We’ve had a whole series of requirements that Greek organizations must complete, and it took Zeta Psi that long to complete those requirements.”

Schaub said Zete’s re-recognition does not grant the organization new rights, but instead “legitimizes” the fraternity’s presence on campus.

“It is definitely not going to change our day-to-day activities, but it’s nice to be a more permanent fixture at the College,” Zete president Travis Cramer ’12 said.

Cramer said that Zete’s re-recognition was the result of a joint effort between current students and the alumni association.

“The undergrads have been working for a bit, and the alumni have been working for a long time, so it will mean a lot to them,” Cramer said. “All the memories that happened for them aren’t gone.”

T. Clark Weymouth ’79, the president of Zete’s alumni association, said the alumni worked closely with undergraduates to do “everything the College needs done,” and that this collaboration was necessary to achieve re-recognition.

“It’s been a good five years since the alumni started on the process,” Weymouth said. “We’ve worked very closely with the College to make sure that this happened in a way that complied and was consistent with the College. From our perspective, it was the achievement of the goal we set out on, so obviously we’re very happy, and I’d like to think that the College appreciates our efforts.”

**The original version of this article attributed statements to GLOS Director Wes Schaub that he in fact did not make.*

DHMC doctor studies depression procedure

Deep brain stimulation may prove a viable treatment option for patients with treatment-resistant depression, according to a study co-authored by Paul Holtzheimer, a psychiatrist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Holtzheimer collaborated with researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine to investigate the effects of DBS on both major depressive disorder and bipolar II disorder.

To execute the study which could improve the rate at which patients are rehabilitated researchers first defined treatment-resistance in patients as the “failure of adequate yet present treatment for the current [depressive] episode,” Hotzheimer said.

Through a surgical procedure, DBS electrodes were implanted into patients’ brains and wires were tunneled under the skin through the neck into the chest wall, according to the study. The wires were connected to an implanted pulse generator, comparable to a pacemaker, inside the region located above the breast and below the collarbone, Hotzheimer said.

“Brain stimulation requires a neurosurgical procedure,” Holtzheimer said. “It’s an extraordinarily, at least in the terms of psychiatry, invasive procedure.”

Following the procedures, patients exhibited decreased levels of depression. The number of patients in remission and responding to treatment increased significantly, he said.

According to the study, 18 percent of patients experienced remission and 41 percent responded to treatment in the first 24 weeks. After one year, 58 percent of patients were in remission, while 92 percent showed some form of improvement.

The strategy employed by the researchers is new in the field of psychiatry, stemming from a related procedure known as electroconvulsive therapy. Since 1938, ECT has been an effective substitute for antidepressant medication when patients have proven unresponsive to antidepressants, according to Gus Dixon, a psychiatrist at the Mental Health Association in Long Beach, Calif.

Unlike ECT, which is administered periodically in a medical clinic, the DBS procedure continuously impacts the patient after an initial surgery.

“There is no treatment which is more powerful at normalizing patients’ brain function than ECT and deep brain stimulation is similarly effective,” Dixon said. “I don’t choose [ECT] as first treatment, but ECT will work when normal medicines have not worked.”

Practices for treating depression since the 1950s have focused on regulating the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, Hotzheimer said. The new method instead focuses on stimulating specific areas of the brain associated with various neuropsychiatric disorders.

For most patients with depression, prescribed antidepressants act as inhibitors that increase the available quantities of these neurotransmitters and adequately treat the condition, according to Dixon. Patients who are treatment-resistant to antidepressants are often administered generic medications like lithium or thyroid hormone, which are unspecific to depression, Holtzheimer said.

Despite the initial success of DBS, the research is inconclusive on the effects of DBS on serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels.

“These patients probably have a depression that is driven by something else, and that’s the way we approach it now,” Holtzheimer said.

Students consider dining plan suit

Sarkar and the SmartChoice Recovery Foundation have encouraged students to exercise their right to litigate following changes to the meal plan.

The SmartChoice Recovery Foundation, created during winter break by Julian Sarkar ’13, has begun soliciting support for its initiatives to help students who believe they have been adversely affected by the new SmartChoice meal plan and what Sarkar sees as the College administration’s “serial dishonesty,” he said.

The foundation’s main effort is to encourage upperclassmen who signed housing contracts with the Office of Residential Life in spring 2011 to file complaints against the College in the Lebanon District Court. These lawsuits would constitute a reaction to the College’s failure to address student concerns after Sarkar and approximately 20 other students filed a breach of contract notice with ORL on Nov. 10, 2011, Sarkar said.

The students allege that Dartmouth violated the legal rights of undergraduates who signed spring housing contracts by “secretly” changing the terms of the contract during the summer, Sarkar said.

The original contract stipulated that students living in College housing must purchase, at minimum, the $1225 Mini Green plan. The modified contract replaced the Mini Green option with three more expensive SmartChoice meal options starting at $1440 per term, according to Sarkar.

Sarkar has used the phrase “mass action lawsuit,” a play on “class action lawsuit,” to describe his mission of having multiple large groups of students simultaneously file lawsuits that seek damages for the breach of contract, he said.

“The case we’ll be making is built primarily on changing the language of the contract,” Sarkar said.

Sarkar is a former member of The Dartmouth Opinion Staff.

The case will also focus on alleged “false statements” made by Dartmouth administrators that rendered students unable to judge what might happen with their meal plans when the SmartChoice meal plan was created, Sarkar said. These statements include allegedly contradictory claims about how Dartmouth Dining Services made a profit in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and promises made by DDS to consider student input about the meal plan, he said.

Sarkar said that the lawsuits will be filed “soon” but declined to release a specific time, the number of students currently committed to filing lawsuits or the number of students involved in the SmartChoice Recovery Foundation.

“I don’t want to disclose too much information,” he said. “I think the administration will try to prevent us from filing lawsuits.”

Director of Media Relations for the College Justin Anderson called the proposed lawsuit baseless in a statement to The Dartmouth.

“We understand that Julian Sarkar is planning legal action against Dartmouth concerning the meal plan,” Anderson said in the statement. “His claim, that the College breached the housing contract between the Office of Residential Life and individual students regarding modifications made to the meal plan, is without merit. He has no basis for this action.”

The SmartChoice Recovery Foundation is still seeking students who are interested in filing lawsuits, which constitute a last resort method of dealing with the issue, Sarkar said.

“I am not a litigious person, none of these students are litigious people,” he said. “The administration has not offered a resolution of any kind. The general council has not offered any solution.”

Students interviewed by The Dartmouth had not heard of the SmartChoice Recovery Foundation and expressed skepticism that the lawsuits will be successful in combating dissatisfaction with the meal plan.

“I don’t know if filing small lawsuits is the answer, but we have the right to do something about it,” Adriana Flores ’13 said.

Kelsey Byrd ’13 said she thinks legal action is unlikely to solve the problem.

“I don’t know if it’s worth it to fight [DDS],” she said. “It might just be better to work with [DDS].”

Citing his lack of knowledge regarding contract law, Will Bishop ’12 said he questions whether the breach of contract claim would hold up in court.

“I don’t know whether the application of contract law would really work in [Sarkar’s] favor or not,” he said.

Sarkar approached more than 10 attorneys in New Hampshire and across the country to assist with his case, but they all declined due to the small settlement that Sarkar and other students would be seeking, he said. Attorneys contacted by Sarkar did not specify whether or not his case is sound, but some have offered support, he said.

“I think the fact that they have been so encouraging in talking to me I am personally confident we will win this case,” he said.

If the SmartChoice Recovery Foundation can find an attorney to take the case despite the lack of monetary incentive, it may pursue a class action lawsuit instead of its current plan of small claims litigation.

Sarkar has started a Facebook page for the SmartChoice Recovery Foundation to reach students who feel misled by DDS and to issue press releases. As of Thursday night, the page had one “like.”

Most of the students contacted by Sarkar were involved with his breach of contract efforts in November.

“When I rallied the students to file breach of contract notices, I got a tremendous amount of support,” he said. “I realized a lot of students are willing to act.”

In addition to building support for lawsuits in the Lebanon District Court, the SmartChoice Recovery Foundation has begun a campaign to obtain financial support from alumni for members of the Class of 2015 due the restrictive nature of the SmartChoice20 plan, according to Sarkar.

Members of the Class of 2015 were required to buy the SmartChoice20 meal plan their first term at the College. The plan includes 20 meal swipes per week and $75 of DBA,

Sarkar sent letters to the Alumni Council and the Association of Alumni in late December asking alumni to redirect their donations from the College to his foundation in order to assist students, but is still awaiting responses. He said he has also contacted other alumni groups, but declined to disclose further information.

Emmanuel Kim ’15, president of the Class of 2015, said he plans to discuss the foundation’s efforts with the Class Council and will send emails to members of the Class of 2015 informing them about the potential for financial compensation.

The foundation is “a good way to connect with alumni and get the Dartmouth community involved,” Kim said.

While members of the Class of 2015 interviewed by The Dartmouth expressed dissatisfaction with the SmartChoice20 plan they were required to purchase for Fall term, they did not all support involving alumni in their financial losses.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Yannick Yu ’15 said. “I am not a big fan of the meal plan, but we were informed well enough and we knew how it was structured. I don’t think having anyone pay for decisions you made is fair. I don’t really see it as a real cause.”

Ryan Shelley ’15 said he supports the effort because of the plan’s unrealistic and unreasonable nature.

“Essentially everyone I know wasted so much money on the plan,” he said. “It was impossible to use the swipes, and you could only use them at a certain time. The most I ever used was 12 meals out of 20.”

The SmartChoice Recovery Foundation sent an email to the College’s 42 department chairs Wednesday, asking faculty to “join [it] in denouncing these practices” and promote only “decisions that are conducted in an honest fashion.”

Thayer prof. works on HIV vaccine

Thayer School of Engineering professor Margaret Ackerman and her research team have received funding to pursue a new approach to HIV treatment.

A research consortium led by engineering professor Margaret Ackerman has received an $8 million-grant from Partners Health Care, a non-profit health care provider in Massachusetts, to fund the development of a new type of HIV vaccine, according to Ackerman.

The consortium, led by Ackerman and Galit Alter, a professor at Harvard Medical School, includes researchers with a wide variety of specialties from both national and international institutions, Ackerman said. Although researchers have been trying to develop HIV vaccines for three decades, Ackerman’s initiative differs from its predecessors by shifting the focus from the adaptive immune system to the innate immune system, she said. Typically, when the body is infected with a virus, the immune system responds by producing neutralizing antibodies, which block structurally important parts of the pathogen from binding with the body’s cells. This system has been the primary focus of the vast majority of HIV vaccine research efforts, and investigators have for years sought to develop a drug that would induce this response in order to prevent infection. However, one of the factors that contributes to the difficulty of developing an HIV vaccine is the disease’s rapid rate of mutation, according to Ackerman. Because the disease constantly mutates into different strains, an effective vaccine would require very “broad coverage,” which researchers have not been able to produce by focusing on the adaptive immune system.

“There is more viral diversity in a single person infected with HIV than in all of the people in the world infected with the flu,” Ackerman said.

Ackerman said she hypothesizes that the innate immune system a “beacon for waking up the rest of the immune system” could be used to neutralize the infection. While the innate immune system is usually considered a temporary defense measure used by the body until the adaptive immune system can identify and destroy the pathogen, Ackerman said a successful HIV vaccine could result from utilizing the innate immune system’s signalling mechanisms.

This hypothesis is supported by the results of a three-year vaccine trial conducted in Thailand, the results of which were published in 2009. Although the study was controversial and researchers are still debating the results, the trial resulted in a statistically effective vaccine, and subjects did not exhibit the typical hallmarks of an adaptive immune system response, according to Ackerman.

“The trial showed success despite the absence of the neutralizing antibodies,” Ackerman said. “Clearly, something else must have been contributing to the success of the vaccine.”

The controversy of the trial stems from the fact that the vaccine a combination of two unsuccessful HIV vaccines was found to be only 31 percent effective, a statistic that created doubt about the legitimacy of the results.

With the help of computer science professor Chris Bailey-Kellogg, Ackerman is engineering a platform to assess the many variables involved with developing an effective vaccine.

The team’s efforts are not guaranteed to prove successful, but the results have been promising, according to Eric Brown, a first-year student at Thayer School of Engineering.

“It’s definitely something that needs to be investigated,” Brown said.

The Partners Health Care funding was awarded through a grant from the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Campus political orgs. rally student support

Among students surveyed by The Dartmouth, most who plan to vote in the upcoming Republican primary favor Mitt Romney.

With the New Hampshire primary four days away, campus, state and national political groups are looking to energize an interested but uncertain student body.

In a 72-person survey conducted by The Dartmouth, 53 percent of students said they plan to vote for President Barack Obama in the upcoming primary, while 21 percent remain undecided. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., is the most popular among the Republican candidates, supported by 12 percent of the students.

The survey was given to a convenient sample of Dartmouth students by members of The Dartmouth Staff.

When asked to list the most pressing issue in the upcoming election, 35 percent of students surveyed cited the economy and job market, an issue that immediately affects recent college graduates.

“People are leaving college and going into one of the worst job markets in history,” Alyssa Farah, communications director for the College Republican National Committee, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

All students, regardless of their political affiliation, will be affected, she said.

Since many Republican students are currently undecided, the College Republicans have focused on “providing resources” for students to learn more about each candidate College Republicans Vice President Robert Smith ’14 said.

“It presents a unique situation because you can’t rally around one candidate,” Smith said.

The New Hampshire primary marks a “really interesting laboratory,” government professor Linda Fowler told attendees at Thursday’s PoliTALK event on the primary.

“Voters tend to be driven heavily by personality because, after all, there’s not a lot of difference on policy grounds between candidates,” Fowler said.

While Obama is predicted to easily win the Democratic primary, College Democrats President Sam Lewis ’13 said he hopes for a large student turnout.

“We still want to show our support and show that President Obama will win the state in the general election,” Lewis said.

Of the students surveyed, 75 percent are already registered voters and 94 percent plan to vote in the general election.

However, only 38 percent of those surveyed said they plan to vote in the New Hampshire primary. While some respondents are registered in their home states and will vote via absentee ballot instead, Chris Clark ’14, vice president of the College Democrats of New Hampshire, said he thinks this year’s primary turnout among Democratic college students will be lower than that in 2008.

“I think there was a newness to it and a historical aspect with [President Obama] being the first black president,” Clark said.

Tyler Kuhn ’14 agreed that the lack of an incumbent in the presidential race contributed to the excitement surrounding Obama’s message of change in the 2008 election.

“One of Obama’s charms was that he did something that was totally new,” Kuhn said. “It’s very hard to recapture a reformist’ platform as an incumbent.”

Smith said he also believes Republican participation will be lower than participation in the 2008 primary.

“With Romney polling at about 40 percent, there’s a sense of inevitability, whereas in 2008, McCain had finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses,” Smith said.

Romney currently holds a 19 point lead over second-place Ron Paul, R-Texas, according to Real Clear Politics’ Jan. 4 poll.Despite a low potential student voter turnout in the primaries, 66 percent of respondents labeled themselves as “politically active/aware.”

Both Lewis and Smith said they believe New Hampshire’s national importance in the primary race, coupled with an already politically-educated campus, contributes to the high percentage of politically-engaged students.

“One of the reasons I was originally attracted to Dartmouth was that I realized we would have access to candidates,” Smith said.

Dartmouth’s location gives students a unique opportunity to contribute to the electoral process.

“We’re in a lucky position to be in a state where it matters,” Lewis said.

The Republican Debate at Dartmouth in the fall also helped raise student awareness, according to Joshua Schiefelbein ’14, College Libertarians president.

“Being able to be up close and personal, it creates a hook,” he said.

Kevin Cox ’13, who wrote an article in NextGen Journal on Jan. 5 in support of former Gov. Jon Huntsman, R-Utah, said he enjoyed having the ability to meet presidential candidates in person through various Dartmouth events.

“I got to see Huntsman speak over the summer when he came here,” Cox said. “It definitely makes you more aware of what they stand for.”

Cox is a member of The Dartmouth Sports Staff.

New Hampshire’s voting laws allow independents to vote in both the Democratic and Republican primaries and require only photo identification and no prior registration, making it easier to convince students to vote in the upcoming primary, according to Clark.

House Bill 176, which would have virtually prevented college students from voting in state or local elections, failed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives last spring.

However, a new version of the bill will soon be re-submitted in the House, according to Clark.

The College Democrats of New Hampshire “have been putting advertisements out on the airwaves about people getting registered before the bill,” Clark said.

The group recruited 525 new members during a 2010 event and plans to hold a state-wide registration day this February, he added.

The College Republican National Committee also hopes to gain support among college students in the coming months, according to Farah.

“In 2010, we deployed 25 field representatives who recruited 20,000 new College Republicans,” Farah said in an email to The Dartmouth. “Now going into 2012, we’re very confident that we’ll have record numbers of young people come out.”

The national group is currently targeting states such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Florida to actively recruit, she said.

The Dartmouth College Republicans held a registration drive in November and co-hosted a debate with the College Democrats and College Libertarians to raise awareness about political candidates.

“We’ve been able to get a lot more publicity for the organization and a lot of people are a lot more interested,” Smith said.

The group also brought in a speaker from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, which was “well attended,” he said.

In addition, the Dartmouth College Democrats in collaboration with Robert Avruch ’11, an employee of Obama’s national reelection campaign will work to directly garner student support for Democratic candidates.

“We’re going to be working closely with the local campaigns and with the Obama Campaign,” Lewis said.

The Dartmouth College Democrats are considering various dates to canvass and will work closely with the College Democrats of New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire primary holds special importance for presidential hopefuls because it is the first in the presidential election primary cycle.

Since 1976, the Republican presidential candidate in the national election has won either the New Hampshire primary or the Iowa caucus, according to Gallup.

Daily Debriefing

Renowned geneticist and former Dartmouth professor James Crow died Tuesday at the age of 95, the National Center for Science Education reported. Crow who received his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology from Friends University and his PhD in zoology from the University of Texas, Austin served as a professor at the College from 1941 to 1948. Crow taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, until his 1986 retirement. As a result of his work in genetics, he was offered membership to the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, according to the Center. Crow also received the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal from the Genetics Society of America, the Center reported. In 1960, Crow became president of the Genetics Society of America and in 1963, he became president at the American Society of Human Genetics.

Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger will visit the College Friday as part of his efforts to gain student support, the Eagle Tribune, a Massachusetts-based newspaper, reported Thursday. Karger who has said he hopes to be the first openly gay presidential candidate for a major party will be present at the Collis Center at 11 a.m. to address youth outreach. He launched his “Restoring Trust” tour in New Hampshire on Wednesday and intends to make appearances in all 10 counties to win New Hampshire votes before the primary on Jan. 10, according to Karger’s website. Karger is currently ranked at the bottom of the polls and will likely finish with less than 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, according to the Dallas Voice.

After experiencing some success in Iowa, presidential candidate former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., will face a difficult battle in New Hampshire, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday. Santorum, who lost the Iowa caucus by only eight votes, has far fewer supporters in New Hampshire than his opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass. Current polls reveal that Romney has 43 percent of the vote in the state, while Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has 14 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., has 9 percent and Santorum has 6 percent, according to The Herald. Santorum also faces problems due to his limited monetary resources $1.3 million compared to Romney’s $32.2 million and the fact that his strong conservative opinions on abortion and gay rights are not well-received in New Hampshire, according to The Herald. Dartmouth government professor Linda Fowler said Santorum lacks the organization to receive New Hampshire votes and will not perform nearly as well in the primary as he did in the caucus, according to the article.

Pelzel announces plans to retire

Carrie Pelzel, senior vice president of advancement, will retire from the College in June after spending 15 years in the administration.

Senior Vice President of Advancement Carrie Pelzel will retire on June 30 after 15 years at the College, President Jim Yong Kim announced in an email to College faculty and administrators Wednesday. Pelzel designed the Dartmouth for Life alumni program, which works to strengthen the bond between alumni and students by emphasizing continuing education and networking programs, according to the email.

Pelzel, who began her career at Dartmouth as director of development under former President James Wright in 1997, said her decision to retire was based on her husband’s recent departure from his consulting firm and her desire to spend more time with her family.

“Now Dartmouth is in the strategic planning process, and at some point the College is likely to launch another campaign, and so looking at my own family situation, I’m not going to sign on for another seven-year campaign,” Pelzel said. “The logical move is to see the next team in so that they can plan and execute the new campaign.”

Pelzel has played an “exceptional” role in the College’s advancement and her “fingerprints can be found on many programs and initiatives across the campus,” Kim said in the email.

As Senior Vice President of Advancement, Pelzel oversees alumni relations, development and fundraising, communications for the College and volunteer leadership, she said.

“What my job really means is that every day I think about the reputation and standing of the institution, how we communicate Dartmouth’s strengths to the world, how we can engage Dartmouth alumni, parents and students, and how to make sure Dartmouth is still one of the best institutions in the world,” she said.

During her time at Dartmouth, Pelzel worked as director of development until creating the Advancement Division at Kim’s request.

Kim’s focus on scholarship and engagement on both national and international levels has helped energize alumni relations surrounding his core mission, she said.

“Because so much of what goes on in development is about building good relations with alumni and parents and communicating in a way that informs and inspires, it was natural to ask [Pelzel] to lead the Advancement Division, an initiative to find greater synergy among our offices of alumni relations, development and public affairs,” Kim said in the email.

Pelzel said that during her years at Dartmouth, intense discussions between the alumni and the College about sensitive policies have sometimes made her work challenging.

“Fostering really open, honest communication is a high priority and, from time to time, it has been challenging when the administration takes a stand or passes a new policy,” she said. “If it in some way seems to contradict the experience that alumni had when they were here, that can lead to debate and discussion. I think the role of advancement is to make that conversation as rich, vibrant and clear as possible.”

Pelzel and her staff have initiated many new multimedia programs to support faculty and students, including webcasts, plans for a redesigned website and the new Dartmouth for Life alumni program, according to Kim.

“Where duplicative functions once existed, there is now an integrated group of professionals in events management, communications, information technology, human resources and finance that supports the entire division,” Kim said.

Pelzel said that she has cherished her time at Dartmouth and feels proud to witness how the academic divisions have improved the learning environment for students, she said.

“This has not been a job, it has been a life,” Pelzel said. “It’s not a place of work, it’s a community. Even though I’m retiring from Dartmouth, I’m an adopted member of the Class of ’54, and I always will be. It has been an extraordinary privilege to have worked for 15 years at Dartmouth.”

Verbum Ultimum: Reassessing Recruitment

When admitting recruited athletes, Ivy League institutions perpetually struggle to balance the demands of competitive athletic programs with maintaining high academic standards. These schools have agreed to maintain a common minimum measurement of academic qualification, below which no athlete can be recruited. Unfortunately, recent evidence suggests that Dartmouth admissions has, on average, been accepting recruits with academic records that rank near the bottom of the Ivy League, and yet these low academic standards do not correspond to athletic success for the Big Green.

Ivy League admissions offices use a metric called the Academic Index to quantify the academic credentials of prospective recruited athletes. Under this index, which takes into account high school grade point averages and SAT scores, Brown University had seven teams with AI scores below 200, the highest number in the Ivy League, while Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania tied for the second highest number of such teams with five each (Cornell University was not included in the study). AI scores range roughly from 170 to 240, and this past summer, the Ivy League raised the minimum AI score from 171 to 176, according to The New York Times.

Although these statistics may indicate that Dartmouth is merely average among its peers, the College’s relatively small size means that low academic standards among athletes have a larger effect on the credentials of the student body as a whole. Dartmouth has a comparable number of varsity teams to Penn but has less than half the number of undergraduates. If the 20 percent of our student body composed of varsity athletes is characterized by questionable academic qualifications relative to our peer institutions, then it is fair to say that the academic caliber of each incoming class is being compromised to a larger extent at Dartmouth than at its Ivy peers.

We fully acknowledge and appreciate that recruited athletes contribute significantly to the richness and diversity of the Dartmouth community. Support for athletic programs should remain a priority for the administration. However, fostering academic success should be our primary goal, and the admissions office should seek foremost to ensure that every incoming student has strong academic credentials. The general admissions process has become more competitive with each passing year, as seen in the consistently rising average SAT scores and GPA of each subsequent class (“Dartmouth admits 465 in early decision,” Jan. 4). The preservation of comparatively low academic standards for recruited athletes combined with increasingly talented non-athletes only exacerbates the gap between these students and their peers.

Dartmouth athletics have struggled in recent years to remain competitive in the Ivy League. In the 2009-2010 athletic season, only one of Dartmouth’s 34 varsity teams won an Ivy League title. If the administration could demonstrate that this disparity has translated into significant success for the Dartmouth athletic program, then perhaps a different set of standards for recruits would be justified. However, it is obvious that admitting relatively large numbers of academically under-performing athletes has not turned the College into an athletic powerhouse.

In spite of this lack of athletic success, we hope that the College will prioritize the academic quality of each student it admits to match that of the most competitive schools in the Ivy League. It is imperative that the Admissions Office and the athletic department reassess their recruitment methods, because the only effect of our current system is an academically weaker student body.