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Dartmouth Outlaws Single-Sex Housing

By Adam Brown

This weekend, students at Dartmouth University rallied against the decision by Dartmouth President James Wright which called for an end to single-sex housing as part of a Residential and Student Life Initiative announced last week.

The initiative, which garnered the support of Dartmouth's Board of Trustees, outlines five principles on which the new residence system will be based, including making housing "substantially coed" and to offer "greater choice and continuity in living and residential space."

While the announcement by Dartmouth's president will have massive implications for Greek life at Dartmouth, Vicki W. Lin '01, MIT's Interfraternity CouncilPublic Relations Chair said that MIT, which also has a sizable Greek population, will likely not face any major repercussions in the wake of Dartmouth's decision.

"Measures have already been taken" at MIT and "eliminating single-sex housing is not the most viable option,"Lin said.

Students stage weekend protests

The press release announcing the elimination of single-sex housing at Dartmouth was interpreted by the student body there as demanding the end of the fraternity and sorority system, provoking protests throughout the weekend.

In a Feb. 10 interview by The Dartmouth, a student-run newspaper, President Wright said that the initiative called for an end to Greek life "as we know it", and "a significant decrease in number" among single-sex fraternities and sororities. Wright also said "this is not a referendum on these things. We are committed to doing this."

Though no timetable was set in the initiative itself, Wright said that the effects would begin with the rush of the class of 2003.

In protest, the Co-ed Fraternity and Sorority Council (CSFC) cancelled 21 Greek-sponsored events for this weekend, including the activities for the Winter Carnival, Dartmouth's largest event of the spring term.

In protest, 1,000 students gathered outside President Wright's house and sang the alma mater. Two Safety and Security officers attended the demonstration and the crowd dispersed peacefully.

The Winter Carnival was also the site of protests. When President Wright addressed the crowd, he commented that "I haven't been invited to any fraternity parties this year but I'm still intending to have a good time this weekend," eliciting a chorus of boos. Also, 600 people marched through Dartmouth's Campus in protest.

The Psi Upsilon fraternity hung a banner reading "Judas, Brutus, Arnold, Wright" and hosted a rally to replace the Keg Jump, a Winter Carnival tradition cancelled by the CSFC. Dartmouth senior Landis Fryer said "I see it as a chess game. You're checked and your next move has yet to be determined. Look carefully at the board, my mastermind colleagues. Sacrifice your rook if it means you take their king." About 400 students gathered in Psi Upsilon's front yard Saturday to protest the college's decision.

Roland Adams in Dartmouth's Office of Public Affairs said "We're formulating a process to facilitate the kind of community discussion that the trustees have called for on how to reach those goals." When asked what direction the reforms would take, and when asked about the effects on next year's rush, Adams said "Idon't believe anybody has said for sure."

Dartmouth builds more housing

Dartmouth has also begun a series of renovations, including the East Wheelock cluster of dormitories, Dartmouth's "vision of the future," according to Dartmouth junior Megan Daggett of Phi Tau. President Wright also wants to add approximately 400 new beds to attract the 200 undergraduate students who now live off-campus.

Daggett also said that she did not believe Dartmouth's actions were due to backlash from the death of Scott S. Krueger '01 at MIT.

President Wright's predecessor, President Freedman, also made known his desire to eliminate the single-sex fraternities and sororities. Wright served under him as dean of faculty and later dean of the college

Dartmouth has 28 fraternities and sororities, of which three Phil Tau, Alpha Theta, and the Tabard are co-ed. About 1,700 of Dartmouth's undergraduate population of 4,100 live in Greek housing.