As of April 1st 2013, every member of the Dartmouth Greek community has sent in an official request to de-pledge their fraternity or sorority, the first step in the de-pledging process. Dartmouth College, which used to boast some of the highest rates of Greek affiliation in the country, with 70% of eligible students being members of Greek houses, now shows a rate of 0% affiliated, putting it on par with schools like Hampshire and Vassar.
Many are curious as to why so many students chose to de-pledge, and in fact, they all cite different reasons, ranging from physical and mental health, to larger political and ideological problems with the Greek system, to the fact that fraternity basements are just plain gross.
Carl Bentley, a former member of Psi Upsilon, cited a sexist and patriarchal system as his main reason for de-pledging. “Why are there so many gender segregated spaces on campus? Separate but equal is not equal, this is third grade stuff. I don’t know why I never really thought about it before today.” His former brother, Brian Anderson, echoed these sentiments a little more bluntly: “We invite women into our male dominated space so that we can play pong with them and later sleep with them. I see women as so much more than just objects, and would like to pursue more equal and balanced relationships with them in the future.”
These sentiments were echoed in every Greek house on campus. At Alpha Xi Delta Fraternity for women, Ashley Lopez also lamented the sexist and archaic nature of the sorority system in particular. “We can’t have alcohol, we can’t have boys over, what is this, the 1800s? I also never realized how gendering almost every social space on campus might make life harder for those who don’t fit with the feminine or masculine ideal, or express their gender in different ways.”
Alicia Cooke, an Alpha Phi, had this to say: “I’ve put up with this sexist and patriarchal system for so long because I’ve met some of my greatest friends in my sorority. But then I’m like, wait you don’t have to be in a sorority to have friends. Most people have normal, healthy, friendships that they are able to maintain even without the guise of Greek letters.”
Hazing, another issue that has been in on people’s minds since an article was published in Rolling Stone Magazine last year was another reason people cited for de-pledging. Theo Bloom, a member of the class of 2014 and a former member of the Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, cited hazing as his main reason for de-pledging.
“Last year I got hazed, and that was no fun, and then this was the first year that I had to haze pledges, and it’s just getting exhausting, year after year we do the same thing. I don’t think I could do it again next year. I don’t really see the point.”
Raymond Jones, former member of Alpha Delta fraternity, expressed a similar sentiment. “To be frank,” he told the Dartmouth Radical, “I never understood how homoerotic activity was supposed to build character, or brotherhood, or whatever. I also just think it’s offensive to any brothers who might be gay.”
Another reason for the mass de-pledging was the exclusivity of the system. Ginger Erikson, member of the class of 2015 and former member of Kappa Delta Epsilon, de-pledged because she cannot, on her conscience, take part in Girls Rush next fall. “The weird thing is, it kind of worked out well for me,” said Erikson. “But I should put “worked out well” in quotes because I’m obviously subscribing to this understood hierarchy that makes people crazy. Since you’re being judged on your personality, instead of a specific factor like acting ability or basketball skills, Dartmouth girls who get rejected from their sorority of choice are forced to question their entire sense of self-worth. And you know, if I stay in KDE I would just be perpetuating that.”
The president of the Panhellenic Council also de-pledged, and dissolved Panhel, issuing the following statement: “The whole Greek system has been nothing but an embarrassment for the college, and I hope we can all just move past it as a community.”