A story from the Manchester Union Leader about Dartmouth fraternities caught my eye the other day. It was about my alma mater, Dartmouth College. The Alpha Delta fraternity house, which was the model for National Lampoon’s movie Animal House, cannot be inhabited.
Two years ago, the Ivy League school revoked the fraternity’s charter because of repeated infractions of the college’s rules. As a result, the fraternity lost its exemption under the town of Hanover’s zoning rules that bar 12-18 unrelated people from inhabiting the same home. Prior to the revocation of the fraternity’s charter, Alpha Delta had enjoyed this exemption.
No charter, no residence
So the fraternity sued. And lost. Then appealed. This past Tuesday, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling.
No more bad boys can live at Alpha Delta.
So what is to become of the lovely 3-story “home” that is literally surrounded by the College?
It has an assessed value of $1.35, but there is no word (at least in this article) as to who will be paying rent to keep up the property.
I’m guessing that other campus fraternities and sororities located on premises not owned by the College are going to be extra careful not to violate the rules. For if they do, the College has now discovered a way to permanently reduce the influence of these social clubs on campus.
Personally, I’m excited but the possibilities. While there is nothing theoretically wrong with the Greek system at Dartmouth, the fact is that they have been socially problematic for a very long time. Even my friends who were active in the Greek system during their time on campus (I was not–though I did go to a few good parties) will admit that the houses have been some pretty anti-social behavior over the years. And my students who are attending the College now have also shared some rather critical views of the social system–even those who participate in it see the system’s enormous flaws.
And if the social life in the fraternities is anti-social in the future, it seems that Dartmouth’s administration now has a clear legal path to get rid of organizations entirely.
But for now, the future of the Alpha Delta house seems unclear. Anyone one want to buy a prime property in Hanover, NH? Comes with a ping pong, uh, beer pong table! Just don’t mind the smell of mung in the basement….