THE DARTMOUTH ORIENTATION ISSUE 2019
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2019
Student organizations face difficulties Over the past year, several student groups at Dartmouth found themselves in predicaments or under investigation. A large fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, was forced to disband after violating an alcohol ban by its national organization. On the same day, The Dartmouth reported that the College had hired an investigator to look into allegations of hazing against several student groups. Meanwhile, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which was de-recognized by the College in 2015, continued its lengthy legal battle against the town of Hanover to maintain its residence on College Street.
Sigma Phi Epsilon closes following charter revocation
College investigates hazing allegations B y Zachary Benjamin and Amanda Zhou The Dartmouth Senior Staff
This article was originally published on Oct. 12, 2018.
SERGIO CARVALLO/THE DARTMOUTH
Sig Ep’s charter was suspended after the fraternity violated its national organization’s policy against alcohol.
B y Elizabeth Janowski The Dartmouth Staff
This article was originally published on Oct. 12, 2018. The national board of directors of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity announced that it has reached a unanimous decision to pull the charter of Dartmouth’s Sig Ep chapter, closing the fraternity effective immediately. The decision comes several months after the national board initially suspended the chapter’s charter and conducted a membership review that removed around 80 percent of its members. “The Headquarters staff and New Hampshire Alpha alumni and volunteers have invested considerable time and energy to … ensure the success of our chapter at Dartmouth College,” Sig Ep chief executive officer Brian Warren wrote in a statement on Wednesday to the members of Dartmouth’s Sig Ep chapter. “Unfortunately, recent events clearly illustrate that the membership is not committed to living by our values and meeting the Fraternity’s minimum expectations.” College spokesperson Diana Lawrence noted in an email statement that the suspension of Sig Ep’s charter will last until winter 2021, after which the chapter may be granted the possibility of returning to campus. In a statement posted on the chapter’s Facebook page, Sig Ep strategic communications director Andrew Parrish attributed the chapter’s closure to
a string of alcohol-related violations that occurred while the chapter was already on probation. “The chapter’s violations have demonstrated a consistent desire to perpetuate an experience rooted in alcohol,” Parrish’s statement said. In August 2017, Sig Ep National adopted a substance-free policy seeking to ban alcohol and other illicit substances from all chapter houses by 2020. Warren’s statement further cited Sig Ep’s failure to meet guidelines set by the Alumni Advisory Council and Headquarters staff in the months following the membership review as a reason for the chapter’s closure. He noted that over the summer, the Alumni Council and the NH Alpha Alumni and Volunteer Corporation, which owns the chapter’s house, requested additional staff members to support the chapter’s progress on these expectations, but the chapter continued to voice its desire to become a local organization instead. Office of Greek Life director Brian Joyce said that he will not be considering the localization of Sig Ep’s Dartmouth chapter at this time, as the College does not consider requests from chapters not in good standing with their national organizations. Per Sig Ep National’s charter revocation, all current members have been suspended from the fraternity for the remainder of their undergraduate careers, according to Warren’s statement. They will not be permitted to wear apparel bearing the fraternity’s insignia, recruit new members or sponsor or hold
events under Sig Ep’s name. Members still living in the house will be permitted to remain there until the end of the fall term, after which they will be re-assigned College housing. After graduation, Sig Ep members in good standing with the national organization will be eligible for alumni status. The Dartmouth chapter will launch a program to re-focus its policies around maintaining a substance-free facility in an effort to eventually regain its charter, according to the statement on its Facebook page. “Chapter improvement is a priority of the Dartmouth Office of Greek Life,” Lawrence wrote. “We support the national organization’s desire to elevate standards for their chapters, and we look forward to working with the national organization’s leadership and all members of the Dartmouth community to plan for a successful return of the chapter.” According to Lawrence’s email, the AVC is working with the College on a two-year lease agreement for the Sig Ep house located on Webster Avenue. The use of the house is not yet determined at this time, though the College does not plan to house an organization in the facility, Lawrence wrote. Senior chapter services director Paul Andersen and former Dartmouth Sig Ep president David Ringel ’19 did not respond to requests for comment by press time. AVC president John-David “JD” Optekar ’91 Th’92 and vice president of programming Nicholas Weir ’09 declined requests for comment.
The College will hire an external investigator to look into hazing allegations concerning 12 student organizations and the Dimensions performance group, senior associate dean of student affairs Liz Agosto ’01 said on Thursday evening. The Hanover police department is also looking into possible cases of criminal activity. The College’s decision, which was made this week, came after the College received an increased number of reports this term about hazing incidents, including kinds that could threaten the health and safety of students. The organizations include five fraternities, three sororities and co-ed Greek houses, three athletic teams, one student life organization and the Dimensions performance group, which is a student-run organization that performs songs and dances about the College in front of prospective students in the spring. The organizations will be informed whether they are under investigation next week, Agosto said. Fourpresidentsof Greekorganizations confirmed that leaders of Greek houses on campus met with Office of Greek Life director Brian Joyce on Thursday afternoon, when Joyce informed them that the investigation would be taking place. Agosto said that similar meetings will occur later in the week with members of other student organizations. Agosto emphasized that currently, the investigation will be conducted purely for the purpose of fact-finding. If organizations are found guilty of hazing or other infractions, punishments will be determined at a later date, separate from this investigation. “There is not a conversation that is happening right now about the end of Greek life as we know it, or any of those things,” Agosto said. The investigation will consist of interviews with Greek house presidents and, in the case of suspected hazing, new members and new member educators. The decision to hire an external investigator came after many anonymous and official reports were made through the LiveSafe app, which allows students to submit reports to the College; Safety and Security reports; first-hand accounts; and an op-ed briefly published on the Dartmouth Radical’s website, Agosto said. She added that the number of incident
reports submitted during the fall term had increased significantly compared to the past, sparking the investigation. The external investigator will focus on reports that concern a student’s health and safety — specifically forced alcohol consumption and sexualized behavior. Reports of incidents like students wearing “unicorn costumes” will be investigated internally by the College — not by the external investigator. “If we get a report that’s [about seeing] five girls dressed in leotards doing a dance, that doesn’t rise to an issue where we’re concerned about the health and safety of our student organizations,” Agosto said. She noted that while the Dartmouth Radical op-ed was not the impetus of this investigation, the article did provide some of the information taken into consideration. The article, titled “Beyond the Basement: Understanding the relationship between hazing and sexual violence,” was published on Oct. 1 and made specific hazing allegations toward specific fraternities, sororities and the Dimensions program, citing first and second-hand sources anonymously. The article has since been removed, with a note indicating that at least one allegation was determined to be false. WhiletheCollegeisincommunication with a potential external investigator, no formal hire has been made, Agosto said. Information was also shared with the Hanover Police Department. Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis confirmed that the department was looking into the information they had received to determine if criminal activity had taken place. The investigations began about two to three weeks ago, he said. Agosto, the Judicial Affairs Office and the College’s general counsel will work together with the College’s external investigator. Agosto declined to speculate on a timeline for the investigation. Presidents of Greek houses — including sororities, fraternities and gender-inclusive houses — were informed on Tuesday of the meeting with Joyce through an email, which The Dartmouth later obtained. “I need to pull this group together to discuss some on-going safety concerns,” Joyce wrote in the email. “This is an important and timely meeting and attendance is mandatory.” Multiple Greek house leaders confirmed that the Greek Leadership Council has called a president’s meeting on Sunday to further discuss the investigation.
NH Supreme Court rules against SAE Amicus brief highlights tensions in Greek life B y CASSANDRA THOMAS The Dartmouth Staff
This article was originally published on April 12, 2019.
In late March, the New Hampshire Supreme Court delivered a ruling on New Hampshire Alpha of SAE Trust v. The Town of Hanover and the Town of Hanover Zoning Board of Adjustment that largely favored the town. Of the ZBA’s 18 rulings, the Supreme Court affirmed all but one — the lone exception concerning whether or not Sigma Alpha Epsilon itself qualifies as an institution. This component of the case was remanded back to the ZBA for further proceedings, perpetuating the limbo status of the derecognized Greek organization. In March 2016, Dartmouth’s SAE chapter was suspended by its national chapter and ultimately derecognized by the College after hazing allegations that drew national attention. Following the derecognition, the Hanover ZBA issued a termination to SAE that stipulated that the fraternity was no longer operating in conjunction with the College. This termination also prevented SAE from serving as a student residence, a decision that SAE appealed to the ZBA in April 2017. According to Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman, the ZBA defines an institution as either educational, religious or governmental. SAE must prove that it fits this definition in order to comply with the ZBA’s ordinances. Houseman said that with the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s recent ruling, SAE now has a chance to
submit a new application to change its formal status. The ZBA will decide whether SAE qualifies as an institution, which will determine whether it can legally house students. Houseman described the ZBA as a “five-member, quasi-judicial” entity that hears cases like a jury. “[TheZBAwilldetermine]whether or not the zoning administrator erred in his interpretation … so the court ruling now gives us clarity as to what we need to look at and how we look at it,” Houseman said. Since the Supreme Court did not arrive at a final determination on SAE’s status, the town of Hanover has been unable to enforce ZBA ordinances, according to town manager Julia Griffin. She also pointed out that SAE has violated College policy, but the College has failed to enforce consequences or keep students from living in the fraternity. While the town fully believes that SAE is currently housing students unlawfully, the current status of the case means that limited options exist to resolve the issue, Griffin said. For now, the only instances in which the town of Hanover can interact with the fraternity are when the fire or police departments are needed, according to Griffin. She added that SAE still has the right to function as a “place of assembly” until the determination of its status. “We’re staved from enforcing the ZBA ordinances because this issue is still an upending legal matter,” Griffin said. “So, there they sit, and here we sit, waiting for the legal discussions to play out in the courtroom.” Attorney Laura Spector-Morgan represented the town of Hanover before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. She said that she approached
the case using precedents set by a similar situation involving the Alpha Delta fraternity in 2017. AD was derecognized by the College in April 2015. Spector-Morgan pointed out that, in spite of the fraternity’s derecognition, in some ways SAE has more autonomy now than it did when it was recognized by the College. “There’s no oversight at this point over the fraternity members or what happens at the house,” SpectorMorgan said. “That’s a concern for the College and for the town, from a health and safety point of view.” Interim director of Safety and Security Keysi Montás echoed these sentiments. In an email statement, he said that Safety and Security no longer has jurisdiction over SAE, and any issues that arise there must be referred to local authorities. Going forward, Spector-Morgan outlined a few possibilities for the case. If the ZBA finds that SAE is not an institution, residential use of the property must cease; however, SAE will most likely appeal that decision, she said. If the ZBA finds that SAE is an institution and determines that the property is being used for institutional purposes, residency in the fraternity could continue. Ultimately, it is now up to SAE to file an application with the ZBA, according to Houseman. “If they wish to make a change — to convert to something that conforms to our regulations and come into compliance — they can submit an application to do so and start afresh,” Houseman said. “I can’t speak for SAE, but clearly, they’re evaluating their options and making decisions. But at this time, the process is still unfolding.”
B y HANNAH JINKS
The Dartmouth Staff
This article was originally published on April 23, 2019. Last month, the New Hampshire Supreme Court largely ruled in favor of Hanover in the case of New Hampshire Alpha of SAE Trust v. Town of Hanover. As part of that case, in April 2018, three Dartmouth fraternal organizations — Phi Delta Alpha Corporation, Zeta Association of Psi Upsilon and Trustees of Alpha Omega Chapter of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity — filed an amicus brief arguing that the town of Hanover unlawfully delegates governmental authority to the College, an abutter who may have a vested interest in obtaining Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s property. The Court’s ruling addressed this concern, but the existence of the amicus brief highlights a campus climate in which tensions remain high between the College administration and Greek organizations affected by the ruling. In the March ruling, the Court remanded back to the Hanover Zoning Board Association the decision as to whether SAE itself qualifies as an institution. According to Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman, the ZBA defines an institution as either educational, religious or governmental. If the ZBA determines that SAE is an institution, the chapter house will no longer violate the town’s Amended Zoning Ordinance, which requires student residences to “[operate] in conjunction with another institutional
use.” Despite the ruling, the pending case and amicus brief highlight prevailing issues regarding the relationship between fraternities and the College. Since 2015, Dartmouth has revoked its recognition of two private fraternal organizations — Alpha Delta and SAE — and witnessed the charter revocation of Sigma Phi Epsilon. The departure of these houses “[has] raised fears of a campaign against fraternity culture,” according to a 2017 Valley News article. As discussed in the amicus brief, many affiliated students operate under the belief that their property rights exist “at the whim of Dartmouth’s unilateral and discretionary decision-making.” On Feb. 5, 2016, Dartmouth revoked its recognition of SAE after the national charter of the Dartmouth chapter was suspended. A week later, the Hanover ZBA notified the SAE Trust that the chapter house was in violation of the town ordinance. The ZBA further stipulated that SAE must discontinue use of the chapter house or pay daily fines. SAE appealed to the ZBA — the beginning of a long string of appeal cases, each of which favored Hanover on almost all accounts. Eventually, the case reached the New Hampshire Supreme Court, where the 2018 amicus brief was filed. An amicus brief is a legal document filed by a non-litigant — the amicus curiae — that provides information relevant to the pending case. Attorney Sean Callan ’90, who represented the amici curiae in development and filing of the brief, said the Latin term SEE AMICUS BRIEF PAGE 13