The Dartmouth campus (or, at any rate, the Dartmouth-centric corners of the information superhighway) is abuzz with the first stirrings of new GLOS Director Wes Schaub, who assumed his role at the College this summer.
Wes has laid down the law, telling Alpha Chi Alpha Fraternity that the staple red hats donned every Fall by their pledges, called sirens, must no longer be worn in public due to safety concerns.
The fraternity has existed as AXA since 1963 and has been at Dartmouth in some form since 1919. In a meeting with the fraternity’s president, Schaub cited the violence associated with the sirens as reasons for their public ban; indeed, they have a history of being stolen by the more daring students on campus, and a nabbed siren is a point of pride for many an undergrad.
The news is distressing, to say the least. Most immediately Schaub’s faulty reasoning is painfully apparent: students are stealing property from other students and the administration takes action…by punishing those students being robbed?
Alex Rausch ’13, a brother of AXA commented that among members of the house, “the sentiment is that we’re not receiving fair treatment.” Rausch noted that the fraternity is quite disturbed as a whole, going so far as to hold a meeting of the full brotherhood, even skyping in those members who are off campus this term.
More than just the elimination of yet another tradition of Dartmouth, this decision on the part of the administration strikes as a potential violation of the students’ first amendment rights. Are the AXA sirens, a source of pride for the pledges, anything more than a form of expression?
Schaub’s decision is disappointing. For a new member of the administration who has stated his goal as working hand-in-hand with Greek leaders, the GLOS Director has thus far only caused headache, attempting to pressure fraternities into closing down over orientation and now working to rob AXA of a several decades-old tradition.
--Adam I. W. Schwartzman