Recognizing continued improvements within Dartmouth's Greek organizations, the Association of Fraternity Advisors (AFA) has presented the College with its Outstanding Change Initiative award. The award is given annually to an institution that has made "tremendous progress and improvement in its fraternity/sorority community within the past year," according to the AFA, an international organization that provides resources and support to professional Greek letter advisors.
"For many students, membership in a fraternity or a sorority is an important component of the Dartmouth experience," says President James Wright. "This award recognizes the leadership individual students have assumed in making sure that experience is a positive one."
"This distinguished award is a tribute to the work of the student leadership of the Coed, Fraternity and Sorority (CFS) system, my colleagues in the Office of Residential Life, and many committed alumni advisors and other volunteers," says Dan Nelson '75, acting dean of the College. "We've come a long way in the past few years because of their efforts, and their dedication and commitment to the positive values that characterize Dartmouth's CFS community at its best."
Deborah Carney, assistant dean of residential life and director of CFS administration, says Dartmouth received the award in large part because of the strength of action plans, developed every year by each Greek letter organization. "The plans include clear, measurable goals in areas relating to the organizations' six guiding principles: scholarship, brotherhood/sisterhood, service, inclusiveness, accountability, and leadership," says Carney.
"We've worked extensively with the administration to increase our responsibility, build high-quality programming, and create a more welcoming and open system," says Lauren Altschuh '07, social chair of Phi Tau Coeducational Fraternity. Altschuh points to the 2006 establishment of a Leadership Academy, which brings together students to talk about the broad issues around Greek life; CFS student planning and participation in forums on issues such as inclusiveness; and increased publicity and turnout for nonalcoholic events. Echoing the statements of other CFS students, Altschuh stresses that it's important for CFS leaders to spread the news of their many achievements to help change some of the myths about Greek letter students. "We're about more than throwing parties," she says.
The AFA award follows the decision in 2005 by the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to lift the moratorium on the creation of new Greek letter organizations because of improvements in the CFS system. In the spring of 2006 the new sorority Alpha Phi was approved by the Office of Residential Life, and it now has over 20 members. "We feel that there's a growing sense, among both the administration and our peers, that CFS students are doing good things," says Elise Krieger '08, Alpha Phi Sorority's founding member.
Indeed, CFS students excel in a variety of areas. From the spring of 2005 to the winter of 2006, the grade point averages of CFS students exceeded the average GPAs of undergraduate students in three of four terms. The 2006 valedictorian and salutatorian were members of CFS organizations. In recent community service engagements, CFS students have provided SAT and study skills tutoring to Windsor, Vt., high school students; built a playground for a preschool in White River Junction, Vt.; spoken about the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Cardigan Mountain School; and helped to raise over $70,000 for the American Cancer Society. "Being involved in a fraternity has allowed me to contribute in a positive way not only to the College, but to the Upper Valley community," says Alexander Lentz '07, vice president of the fraternity Theta Delta Chi.
By STEVEN J. SMITH
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Last Updated: 5/30/08