Coed Council members endorse new constitution

Julietta Gervase/The Dartmouth Staff
The new Coed Constitution would include a robust nondiscrimination provision.
Julietta Gervase/The Dartmouth Staff

Membership of the College’s coed houses endorsed a new constitution on August 13 that would implement a robust nondiscrimination policy among member institutions and ensure full financial aid is available for all members of Coed Council bodies, in addition to establishing Amarna Undergraduate Society as an affiliate member of the Council. Debate over the constitution will resume this fall when full membership returns to campus.

Greek Leadership Council and Coed Council summer leadership expressed optimism that fall membership would officially approve the constitution. The document requires approval from a majority of the members of all three coed Greek houses — Alpha Theta coed fraternity, Phi Tau coed fraternity and The Tabard coed fraternity — as well as Amarna for ratification.

Coed Council summer treasurer Tyler Stoff ’15, who wrote the original draft of the new constitution, said he does not anticipate major changes as fall membership reviews the plan.

Coed Council president Evelyn Weinstein ’16 said the new document would provide superior guidelines for running the Council, noting that many of its changes simply codify existing practices. Weinstein, who doubles as Phi Tau treasurer, noted for example that the fraternity already provides full financial aid to some members. Still, institutionalizing these practices was crucial, she said.

Stoff emphasized that drafting the constitution was a “hugely collaborative process.” He said that the constitution seeks to establish “who we are,” with the nondiscrimination clause central to the Council’s identity.

The Council supports inclusive spaces for people of all genders, and “we’d also like to reinforce the notion that we’re welcoming to all social classes as well,” Phi Tau summer president Justin Halloran ’16 said.

Because the nondiscrimination clause is located under the constitution’s section defining certain terms, members could be asked to leave the Council if they violate that clause, Weinstein said.

GLC summer chair Elizabeth Wilkins ’16 said this vigorous nondiscrimination policy is unique among GLC sub-bodies.

Under the new document, Amarna, whose president already attends Council meetings, would assume the role of an affiliate member of the Council with voting power only on issues that do not pertain to GLC funding, while Alpha Theta, Phi Tau and Tabard retain full membership. Amarna members would also not be permitted to run for Council leadership positions, and Amarna would remain outside the GLC’s purview.

“They’re not a member of the Greek community, but they are a member of the coed community via this affiliate type of action,” Weinstein said.

Amarna summer president Samantha Smith ’16 said that the society originally wanted full member status without becoming a GLC member. She noted that the changes would not affect the daily life of Amarna members, but that the changes symbolize the society’s commitment to the coed community while preserving Amarna’s non-Greek identity.

With the new constitution, Amarna would receive further institutional support from the College: for example, Amarna’s president is not currently copied on emails sent to Greek presidents. Under the new constitution, the GLC could also sponsor events held by Amarna, Wilkins said.

The drafting process encountered a hiccup when some members said they wanted to enact provisions that would permit prohibiting some non-members, often because they were deemed threatening, from attending Council events. Alpha Theta summer president Noah Cramer ’16, who said some Alpha Theta members would have supported such a ban, said that the house decided to table the discussion until after the constitution is passed.

“I think that this is something that needs to be looked at very carefully by both student leadership as well as the College,” Wilkins said, noting that such a ban remains in its early stages.

Tabard summer president Luke McCann ’16 said he believes such an amendment would have helped members of coed spaces feel comfortable, noting that Tabard has banned people from events and the space in the past. He said he was frustrated that the debate within Coed Council felt overly theoretical.

“If anyone was making any coed space on campus uncomfortable, they should therefore not be allowed in any coed space,” he said. “I think there should be that sort of sense of community in all of us.”

Weinstein said she thinks the discussion was “valuable” but said the Council decided to proceed because the issue merited a longer, deeper conversation. She characterized the topic as “tangential” to overall discussions about the constitution but noted that many people were passionate about a ban.

The new document also mandates community service from all voting members of member organizations, in addition to establishing the new position of Council secretary tasked with documenting Council business and providing continuity to Council structures. The current constitution does not include an independent service provision and instead names the vice president responsible for service.

The proposed constitution also more clearly delineates how organizations can join the Council.

This change coincides with Moving Dartmouth Forward’s review of student life at the College, with the steering committee receiving more than 50 online suggestions recommending that the Greek system go coed.

Halloran said the Council would like to see more members join. He speculated that the College could possibly mandate that Greek life become coeducational.

“If they are incentivizing coeds, it’s very important that we have a way for people to join our Council,” he said.

Halloran said the new constitution would help establish the Council’s distinctiveness in the College’s institutional framework.

“People are always talking about the negative aspects of frats,” he said. “I think being able to say, ‘Hey, if you look at the Coeds, they have this, this and this’ — that’s a nice thing to be able to say.”

McCann is a member of the Dartmouth staff. Smith is a member of The Dartmouth’s copy editing staff.

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