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The college believed to be the setting for the movie "Animal House" may soon find itself without the very fraternities that once made it famous.
The Dartmouth College faculty council unanimously recommended on Monday that the New Hampshire school no longer recognize the Coed, Fraternity and Sorority (CFS) System. The council's decision comes a month after a high-level college steering committee found that many problems often associated with Greek life nationwide--such as binge drinking, sexual harassment and hazing--are also prevalent in the Dartmouth system. The report recommended general reforms for the system, including new restrictions on serving alcohol at Greek parties and a sharp reduction in the number of students allowed to live in single-sex fraternities and sororities.
Monday's vote, upon a proposal brought to the faculty council by Professor of Religion Susan Ackerman, would affect the approximately 40 percent of Dartmouth students who are members of CFS organizations.
Ackerman said she introduced the more strongly worded proposal because she thought the steering committee's recommendations were insufficient.
"Many of us are just no longer convinced that reform is possible--we've tried that and it hasn't worked," Ackerman said.
She said the exclusivity of the Greek system on campus conflicts with the school's mission.
"I don't believe, fundamentally, that we should have selective social organizations at Dartmouth," she said. "It's contradictory to our principles."
The college currently gives official support to campus Greek organizations by supplying personnel, facilitating billing and providing programming grants--services without which many CFS organizations could not survive, Ackerman said.
But according to Asssistant Dean of Residential Life Deborah A. Carney, the administrator who oversees the CFS system on campus, the student societies actually rely very little on the college's financial resources and would not necessarily collapse without official college recognition.
And if the college were to withdraw its support from CFS organizations, it would first have to create additional living space for students who now reside in the Greek houses where they are members, Carney said.
CFS organizations provide about 15 percent of the beds on campus--a statistic which led the steering committee to recommend the construction of additional residence houses on campus. "We're frankly hostage to [the CFS] beds, right now," Ackerman said.
The faculty council Monday asked the Dartmouth board of trustees--the group that will make the final decision on the fate of CFS organizations--to make the construction of new college residences its highest priority in the coming year.
The board is slated to respond to the steering report by April. Ackerman acknowledged that the board has not given much weight to faculty resolutions in the past, but said administrative concern appears to be growing for the problem.
According to Christopher T. Carney, president of Dartmouth's Alpha Delta fraternity, the faculty council's proposals would be easy to impose but would have detrimental effects on smaller, non-residential Greek groups that rely on the larger organizations for their funding.
"Getting rid of the residential organizations causes problems for all types of organizations [on campus]," Carney wrote in an e-mail message.
If Dartmouth chooses to withdraw recognition of CFS organizations, the move would continue a trend toward reducing the influence of Greek organizations around New England.
In 1997, Bowdoin College withdrew its support from campus Greek organizations following the death of a visiting student after a fraternity party.
Harvard has not recognized single-sex social clubs--including fraternities and sororities--since 1984.
Still, according to Hector C. Bove '00, the president of Sigma Chi at Harvard and a Crimson editor, said the organization has little need for Harvard's support.
"It actually is no trouble at all not having Harvard recognition," Bove said. "We're independent to do whatever we want to do."
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