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Critical Connections: J.B. Daukas ’84 on the Alumni Council’s Efforts to Support Greek Life

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In fall 2008, the Alumni Council launched an Ad Hoc Committee to Support Greek Letter Organizations (CSG). (The 125-member Alumni Council represents Dartmouth’s alumni and is the primary forum for the exchange of alumni sentiment.) As the CSG prepares to release a report at the council’s May meeting, Dartmouth Life asked committee chair John “J.B.” Daukas ’84 to talk about its scope and work.

J.B. DaukasGreek Organizations thrive with strong alumni involvement, says J.B. Daukas ’84. (photo by Web Chappell/Wonderful Machine)

What is the charge of the committee and why did the Alumni Council feel that it was needed?
As the name implies, the CSG is charged with helping fraternities, sororities, and co-ed houses thrive at Dartmouth. In recent years, the council has spent a good deal of time addressing issues of alumni governance and relations; now the CSG is a way for alumni actively to help students and the College. Many Greek “houses” are owned by alumni corporations, and alumni serve as advisors of most Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, so these organizations are a perfect subject for involvement by the council. Houses with strong alumni interaction tend to succeed, while those without it struggle. Both former President James Wright and President Jim Yong Kim have been extremely supportive of our efforts.

Who are the members of the CSG?
The CSG consists of alumni councilors, alumni house advisors, faculty advisors, deans, and students.

What are the committee’s most significant findings and recommendations?
The CSG will not issue a final report until May, but the most significant findings to date are that: increased alumni and faculty involvement are crucial to the future of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies; after 60 to 100 years of (now) year-round use, many houses are in terrible physical shape and in desperate need of significant capital improvement; Dartmouth needs more sororities with their own houses; and that the culture can be changed to improve maintenance, cleanliness, and alcohol-related issues.

How has Greek life changed at Dartmouth since you were a student? What has remained consistent?
Opportunities for women have increased greatly. When I matriculated in 1980 on a campus in which men outnumbered women roughly two to one, Dartmouth had only three sororities, none with houses. Dartmouth now has ten sororities, six with houses, and about 65 percent of eligible women and men participate in the Greek system.

What has not changed is the spirit of camaraderie and friendship, as well as the openness of all houses to non-members, which is as strong as it was when I was at Dartmouth. Greek organizations remain a center of campus social life, benefitting members and nonmembers alike. Fraternities and sororities are places for students to gain responsibility, learn how to work and live together, and generally to grow up. Lifelong friendships are still nurtured here.

Were there any surprises while your committee was conducting its fact-finding?
I was stunned at how much time Greek organizations spend performing public service for students, the College, and the Upper Valley community.

If you could tell the alumni body just one thing about Greek Letter Organizations at Dartmouth today, what would it be?
Greek organizations are valued at all levels of the College, beginning with President Kim, and they very much could use our help to remain vibrant and improve and maintain their physical structures.

Want to get involved? Contact alc@alum.dartmouth.org.

By DIANA LAWRENCE

 

Last Updated: 3/10/10