Geller: Free the Freshmen
First of all, I would like to clarify that despite my column on priorities, I am a staunch supporter of the Greek system. Just because I disagree with those who drink to the detriment of their grades and health does not mean that I do not support Greek life.

In his recent column, Michael Beechert (
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“A Slight Success,” Jan. 30) advocated for the continuation of the policy that banned freshmen from fraternities until after Homecoming. He supports the ban not necessarily because it has made freshmen safer and more responsible, but rather because it forced them “to find other means of social interaction” than the Greek system.

I respectfully disagree. First of all, freshmen are old enough to make decisions for themselves. I strongly believe that freshmen should have the choice to see what the Greek scene is like from the get-go, and then choose whether to make friends and socialize within the system or outside of it. Part of life is learning how to make decisions on your own. And while there’s no guarantee that freshmen will make the right choices, they should have the freedom to make and learn from their own mistakes. Nobody is going to be there to hold our hands and protect us once we step into the real world. That is reality. I understand that safety is a legitimate concern, and that the point of the ban was to protect the freshmen from binge drinking and sexual assault. That is perfectly reasonable. I would advocate keeping the ban if it made a significant, positive impact on the overall safety of the freshmen class, but that was not the case. This fall, the number of drinking incidents involving freshman dropped only 3 percent. In comparison, school-wide incidents of intoxicated students handled by Safety and Security dropped approximately 16 percent. Now, I would argue that these statistics suggest that access to Greek houses is not the problem. In fact, I would argue further that the ban actually does more harm than good. Newfound freedom is exciting for freshmen everywhere, and at college, they continue experimenting with drinking and partying. It is no secret that Dartmouth freshmen drink mostly hard alcohol in dormitories and have easier access to it in their own dorms than they do at the fraternities. At fraternities, they generally have access to at most a beer or two. Therefore, I think it is more dangerous for freshmen to be drinking in their dorms than it is for them to be out and about on frat row. Especially in the beginning of the year, freshmen are not necessarily drinking with anyone they can trust, because their “friends” are still mostly strangers. Additionally, they probably do not understand their limits with alcohol yet, let alone the signs that indicate the need for medical assistance. First-year students are sometimes afraid to  Good Sam their friends, even when it is necessary. Older, more responsible students present in the fraternities are better able to recognize these kinds of things, and many of them have more experience dealing with over-intoxication. The presence of students more experienced with drinking and campus resources helps keep everyone safer. I understand that sexual assault presents another major issue, but I don’t think that it is any easier to prevent sexual assault in the dorms than in the fraternities. New, younger students may not feel comfortable stepping in to stop a stranger from making a pass at someone who was either clearly not interested or intoxicated. Upperclassmen who are more comfortable and more experienced with these behaviors can recognize dangerous situations and are better equipped to deal with them. That aspect of Greek life is vastly underappreciated. I truly believe that despite all the flak the Greek system receives, freshmen are probably safer when they can go to fraternities than when they cannot. Keeping this in mind, I urge the Greek Leadership Council to reconsider its position and end the freshman ban.

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