A top Democrat running for governor in New Hampshire says he wants to restore the status of a Dartmouth College fraternity that was kicked off campus just over a year ago.
But this isn’t just any fraternity: Alpha Delta loosely inspired the raucous movie “Animal House.”
The candidate, businessman Mark Connolly, was a member of the Alpha Delta fraternity when he graduated from the Ivy League college in 1979. The former New Hampshire securities bureau chief is running in the Sept. 13 primary for governor, a wide-open race. Under state law, the governor of New Hampshire is automatically an ex-officio member of the Dartmouth College board of trustees.
The Alpha Delta fraternity was kicked off campus in April 2015 after members branded pledges on their buttocks — a violation of the school’s standards of conduct policy. The incident marked the last straw for the Hanover, N.H., college, which revoked Alpha Delta’s status on campus and banned students from living in the house.
But this month, Connolly sent an e-mail to his fraternity brothers — an attempt to raise money for his campaign — in which he wrote he had recently visited the campus and that it was “awful” to see the house sitting empty.
“I understand the position the college was in and that some of the students were not fully cooperating, but I don’t think hurting past generations and preventing future ones is the best course,” Connolly wrote in a fund-raising pitch that was obtained by the Globe. “In the coming months and years, I would hope to see AD back up and running and have its status restored.”
Connolly later told the Globe, via a statement, that he hopes his former fraternity would be recognized on campus again, “but only after ensuring they are upstanding members of the Dartmouth community.”
“As governor, I will take my work as an ex-officio member of the board of trustees seriously, which I believe precludes special treatment for any one group,” Connolly said.
A recent University of New Hampshire survey showed both Connolly and his top competition, executive councilor Colin Van Ostern, are relatively unknown to likely Democratic voters, 57 percent of whom in the poll said they were still undecided about the race.
As an ex-officio member of the Dartmouth board, New Hampshire’s governor holds the same status as other board members. The current governor, Maggie Hassan, attended at least one Dartmouth board meeting last year, her press secretary said.
A Dartmouth College spokeswoman said there is no discussion to restore the house as a recognized fraternity that would allow students to live in the house.
“There is no process by which an organization can or will be re-recognized at Dartmouth,” said Diana Lawrence, associate vice president of communications at Dartmouth College. “Derecognition is permanent.”
No criminal charges were filed as a result of the fraternity’s branding. But the incident occurred while the fraternity was already under suspension for violating campus rules about drinking and partying. In 2013, a Dartmouth student turned himself in to police for urinating on a woman from a second-floor balcony at the Alpha Delta house.
One of the screenwriters of “Animal House,” a 1978 film starring John Belushi, was a member of Alpha Delta while at Dartmouth. The movie depicted the wild antics of a fraternity house.