Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon announced Thursday several unprecedented steps that he hopes will create a safer environment on campus. His speech follows concerns about about the rising incidence of sexual assaults and high risk drinking.
Under his plan, hard alcohol will be banned from campus events, and under-age students who are found to possess it will be severely punished. There will also be a four-year mandatory sexual violence and prevention program. Hanlon put fraternities on notice that if the Greek system does not “engage in meaningful, lasting reform … we will need to revisit its continuation on campus.”
Perhaps the most sweeping change at a school where many students live in fraternities is a completely new housing system. Hanlon described it in detail:
Beginning next academic year with the class of 2019, every student who enters Dartmouth will be placed into one of six house communities. Each community will have a cluster of residence halls as a home base. From sophomore year on, students will reside within their residential community when they live within the dorms. Even if a student is living in a first-year dorm, Greek house, affinity house, live-learn community, or off campus, they will remain a member of the residential community, included in all its activities, and partaking of all the rights and responsibilities of community membership.
As part of this initiative, each Residential Community will organize and host social and academic programs, and eventually each will have dedicated space for study and social interaction. We are committing in excess of $1 million per year to support programming in the Residential Communities and other College-owned venues.
Dartmouth is under federal investigation for the way it has handled sexual assaults in the past. Some alumni and faculty also do not think the school has moved quickly enough to address social problems it shares with many other colleges. But President Hanlon vows to make this plan a blueprint for meaningful change. An external review panel chaired by Tufts President Emeritus Larry Bacow will help monitor its progress.