9 School St
Hanover, NH 03755


Wednesdays at 10 pm, open to the public.


The story of Panarchy, the undergraduate society, is embedded in the history of its predecessor, Phi Sigma Psi, the fraternity. Phi Sigma Psi, in turn, evolved from the long and glorious tradition of the national fraternity Phi Kappa Psi, which was the ninth Greek letter organization at Dartmouth, founded in 1896... In 1963 Phi Psi had voted to eliminate lone member 'blackballs'. Previously it had taken only one no-vote against a pledge to deny admission into the fraternity. "In 1966, [Dartmouth's Phi Kappa Psi] admitted into its pledge class one Joseph Wright. However, a visiting member of a California chapter of Phi Kappa Psi filed a 'transchapter blackball' against Mr. Wright that spring. [Phi Psi] complained to the national that this action was the result of racial prejudice, and asked for the blackball to be removed." Although an eventual ruling by the ominously named 'Grand Arch Council' sided with Dartmouth's Phi Psi, the national did not change its charter to prohibit discrimination expressly. When another case involving possible prejudice was brought before the national in 1967, the membership of Phi Kappa Psi realized that no progress had been made toward abolishing discrimination: they voted to go local and changed their name to Phi Sigma Psi.

Road to Secession:
This story is important to the mutal history of Phi Sigma Psi and Panarchy in that it illustrates the origins of the house's commitment to liberal ideals and diversity. Phi Psi didn't take itself too seriously; there was a way in which they felt that the whole idea of fraternity was "schmaltzy". The house's motto reflected its philosophy: "Multi animi, sed unus animus" - Many souls, but still one soul, and it seemed that the diversity of souls was the key ingredient. Phi Psi was the first fraternity at Dartmouth to go co-ed, breaking with one of the schools oldest and newly challenged traditions. According to the myth, Phi Psi went co-ed the day the college admitted women, and even beforehand it had housed female boarders from sister schools. Phi Psi thus distinguished and alienated itself from the Greek System in the 1970's, and began to gain a reputation similar to that of co-ed's that followed in its wake, namely the Tabard. There was an implicit understanding that Phi-Psi was a subordinate fraternity, and the campus (read: Greek) impression of the house revolved around its drug use, "hippie" culture, "punk" music, and homosexual contingent. The house became 'othered' by the rest of campus, it became "strange" and "weird", vague terms which attempted to signify (white conservative male) discomfort with a house which integrated deeply rooted dichotomies (black/white, female/male, gay/straight) with a liberal political agenda and the use of mind altering substances. This was occurring at a time when conservative repression of gays at Dartmouth was making its last stand, most notably represented by the infamous "Tri-Kap purge." In 1980 Kappa Kappa Kappa amended its constitution to explicitly forbid "overt homosexual activities" associated with the house, including "open expression of homosexuality or dancing with members of the same sex in the house or while representing the fraternity." This action eventually resulted in the expulsion of nine brothers in 1984, allegedly because of their sexual orientation. Phi Psi/Panarchy, as it called itself in the late eighties, was casually referred to as the DGLO adjunct (Dartmouth Gay and Lesbian Organization), much as Panarchy undergraduate society was considered the residential arm of the DRA (Dartmouth Rainbow Alliance) throughout the nineties. In addition, Phi Psi/Panarchy further marginalized itself from the Greek community by becoming a dry house in the mid eighties... Phi Psi/Panarchy was a source of agitation for the CFSC; the house frequently criticized the Greek system's gender discrimination, demeaning rush and pledge processes, and especially the dominance of alcohol. They held that alcohol abuse in the context of gender inequality contributed to rape and sexual harrassment; additionally alcohol use in conjuncion with demeaning . . . pledge rituals contributed to homogeneity and the de-emphasis of the individual... In 1991 Panarchy dropped its Greek letters and found its opposition within the CFSC coming to a critical point. The house applied for undergraduate society status and was refused by the College, supposedly for financial reasons due to the house's geographic isolation from the campus. Panarchy was forced to return to the CFSC where it "didn't fit in" according to then-council president Jeff Macke '91. In an article in The Dartmouth, he complained that Panarchy was for all intents and purposes not a part of the CFSC and that "their only input was to slam the system..."

Undergraduate Society:
Two years later the differences were irreconcilable. Panarchy president Lynn Webster '94 wrote in The Dartmouth that staying in the Greek system was equivalent to supporting it. What followed has been glibly described in terms of a revolution complete with drama and charismatic leadership. The heroes of the rebellion staged by Panarchy were David Cohen '94, Sari Cohen '94, Sean Donahue '96, Bart Bingenheimer '94, S. T. Shimi '94, Heather Searles '94, Lynn Webster '94, and Andrew Pollak '94... Under the advisorship of Assistant Dean of Residential Life Allison Keefe, Panarchy broke from the greek system and was awarded provisional status as the college's first undergrduate co-ed society, without rush or pledge period, in the spring of 1993... The society's status was provisional for six terms, and during that time another non-Greek undergraduate organization called Amarna was formed. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Panarchy, the end of 1994 established the co-ed undergraduate society as a new form of social space at Dartmouth.

- Excerpted from an ethnography by Matt Orosz '00