Dartmouth Fraternities Have An Innovative Approach To Becoming Less Elite

Dartmouth College Fraternity Alpha Chi Alpha CampusVia Wikimedia CommonsThe Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity house at Dartmouth College.

One of the biggest criticisms of Greek life is that fraternities and sororities are havens for the rich that impose high costs for membership to keep out poor students.

Dartmouth College — whose fraternity system was recently called out for its elitism in a former student’s controversial memoir — is trying to change this image of Greek life and increase houses’ inclusivity. The school’s fraternities have made an innovative move to help support students who may not have previously been able to afford to join a Greek house, as Dartmouth president Phil Hanlon highlighted in a speech Thursday announcing policy changes at the college to increase student safety.

As part of a series of internal reforms over the Fall 2014 semester, Dartmouth’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) proposed “that every fraternity devote a minimum of 15% of their total social and programming budget to financial aid.”

The cost of Greek membership seems to have been a problem at Dartmouth in the recent past. According to a 2013 article in student newspaper The Dartmouth, “the high costs of Greek organisation membership forces many students to turn to scholarship programs in their organisation, apply for outside funding or abstain from membership.”

Greek dues are often hundreds of dollars per semester and can’t be covered by financial aid that students get from their college. Local chapters and national organisations grant scholarships to help students cover their dues, but these are typically decided on a case-by-case basis.

Making financial aid a built-in part of a fraternity’s social budget should ensure that each house can monetarily support any student who wants to join their chapter — regardless of their financial situation.

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