On a small campus in the middle of the woods, a sense of community is important. Where Dartmouth students find their communities varies. According to director of the Office of Greek Life Brian Joyce, 46.3 percent of students at the College are affiliated with Greek organizations, equivalent to 62.6 percent of eligible students, as first-year students are ineligible to join. The Greek system provides students with a unique community of its own.
The Dartmouth fielded an online survey of students on community-related topics, and the data from 532 student responses provided a tangible gauge of how some Dartmouth students view the Greek system.
When asked how inclusive or exclusive they perceive the Greek system at Dartmouth to be, 35.2 percent of men said “very inclusive,” while 13.8 percent of women said “very inclusive.”
Chair of the Greek Leadership Council Austin Welch ’17 said that this year the council identified five areas to improve upon: sexual violence, high risk drinking, hazing, accountability and inclusivity. The GLC works to serve the needs and interests of the students affiliated with recognized open societies and Greek Letter Organizations. According to its constitution, the GLC’s goals include maintaining the integrity of the Greek community, which refers to Greek culture as it relates to civic, academic, personal and community excellence.
Over the summer of 2015, Dartmouth Bystander Initiative training was implemented for all new members joining a Greek organization. The program assists students in recognizing and acting upon potential moments of harm. During his sophomore summer, Welch said the GLC saw the need for intervention training.
“We thought [members] were at a point where they had the opportunity to speak up, but maybe felt concerned joining a new organization, that their voice would be silenced or shamed,” he added. “So, what we worked to do is make sure that anyone who saw something they felt uncomfortable with knew they had the support of upperclassmen.”
Joyce said there are multiple ways in which the Greek community has created a place for active discussion surrounding inclusivity. One example was the Panhellenic Council’s panel on inclusivity in the Greek system this past summer.
“We had a really transparent, honest conversation about ways we are inclusive and ways we still have exclusivity in our system, how that made people feel and how we can address that,” Joyce said.
At the panel, some affiliated women talked about how they did not expect to be involved in Greek life at Dartmouth because they were not stereotypical sorority girls. However, Joyce noted that many were pleasantly surprised that they found a home here, adding that they fit in and found their system of support.
“However, on the flip side, people talked about how they felt like they had to segment out certain parts of their life because certain friend groups didn’t agree with Greek life,” Joyce said. “It’s a polarizing community here at Dartmouth.”
Megan Batangan ’18 is a member of Chi Delta sorority and participated on Panhell’s inclusivity panel during her sophomore summer. She said she spoke about her experience as a Native Hawaiian student and her involvement in the Native American at Dartmouth community in tandem with that of her Greek house.
“I recognize it is hard to change a system that was not necessarily made for me,” she said. “It wasn’t made for females of color who come from a lower socioeconomic background — I am partaking in a system that at the beginning was made for wealthy white males.”
She added that she participates heavily in Greek life, attributing her very active role in Chi Delt to her attempts to break down socioeconomic and racial barriers.
Last spring, Sigma Delta sorority organized and co-hosted a panel on inclusivity in the Greek system with Epsilon Kappa Theta and Chi Delt sororities. Sigma Delt president Alanna Kane ’17 said that the panel was a great way to express opinions and discuss ways to navigate a space on campus.
“It’s not necessarily an easy thing, devoting a lot of time and attention to building community as a social space,” she said. “Some people are interested in the house as a social space, and some are interested in it as a community.”
Kane added that Sigma Delt members work to make their house a space where people can hang out, get along and feel safe, in order to minimize tensions among members.
Joyce also said that the work from individual chapters in the Interfraternity Council can be the start to having a larger, community-wide discussion on inclusivity.
“Alpha Chi [Alpha fraternity], in the fall, held a discussion on race — within the Dartmouth community, nationally and their fraternity — and how white privilege intersects with that,” he said. “Hopefully others will have some of those discussion as well.”
Joyce added that Gamma Delta Chi fraternity has a high percentage of athletes and had a conversation on “locker room talk,” facilitating the support of a safe environment.
Tabard gender-inclusive fraternity president Paul Vickers ’19 said that the organization is recreating its constitution to state actively in its bylaws that they support the rights of all minority groups.
“We are defining what inclusivity means because in the past, related to the incident that got us kicked off campus, there have been issues with open access,” Vickers said. “The idea that every single person can rush maybe wasn’t the greatest thing because there wasn’t any filter, but also inherently we want to be inclusive to all people.”
Vickers said that his fraternity is a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matters movement, as well as other groups on campus, noting that Tabard has a strong Native American population.
Many members of Tabard do not fit in the traditional systems, he said.
“We have the most identifying minorities, percentage-wise, and have the lowest income, percentage-wise,” Vickers said, referring to fraternities with College-recognized houses. “We span pretty broadly but come together with shared experience.”
Additionally, financial inclusivity is being addressed by both the GLC and Panhell. The GLC is currently creating a policy and program to aid organizations supply financial aid to their members. Welch said that all Greek membership is officially need-blind.
“Financial need won’t be taken into consideration and won’t be a problem for those who are looking to join,” Welch added.
Previously Panhell focused on programming, such as last year’s dance marathon and panels, to facilitate discussion. Chair of Panhell Lauren Huff ’17 said Panhell was unable to meet all of the scholarship requests for sorority houses last year.
“So, in the spring, we then decided we wanted to focus our efforts and money there,” she said. “We are trying to provide scholarship and lower the barriers to be a part of an organization.”
One of the barriers addressed by Panhell women is the gap between first-year women and upperclassmen women, Huff said. At Dartmouth, students are eligible to join a fraternity, sorority or gender-inclusive organization their sophomore year.
“[Freshmen] are not inherently coming into sorority houses,” Joyce said. “I talked to so many [potential new members] and sorority women where recruitment is the first time they have stepped into a sorority space.”
“I think there is a big divide between class year at Dartmouth,” Huff said. “It’s very much an identifier.”
She added that the six-week freshman fraternity ban creates a divide between freshmen women and affiliated upperclassmen women.
“I think there are definitely ways to bridge that gap,” Huff said. “However, there is a stigma — whenever anything is associated with rush, people get freaked out and nervous.”
The formal recruitment process is run by Panhell. According to its website, during the first round, a potential new member attends a party at each of the eight Panhell chapters. After the first round, a maximum of four houses will invite potential new members back to attend a second round of parties. Following the second round, potential new members will be invited back to a maximum of two houses at preference night, which is the final round of recruitment. After attending these parties, the potential new members meet with their Recruitment Counselors, ranking the houses they attended. Following this, the women will be granted a bid, which is an invitation to become a member of that chapter. Later that night, new members will be welcomed at their new sorority.
Sigma Delt and EKT hold “shake-out,” which mirrors the IFC’s recruitment process.
Alpha Pi Omega sorority, Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas sorority and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority fall under different organizations from Panhell and have different recruitment processes.
Recruitment occurs every fall, winter and spring for the IFC; some chapters will only take new members during certain terms. The IFC’s official recruitment process occurs over the course of three nights. On the first two nights of recruitment, potential new members visit the fraternities that they are interested in joining. There, they are allowed to “shake-out” at one fraternity at the end of the evening, which indicates the potential new member’s top choice. Fraternities deliberate and give out bids any time after the formal recruitment process starts. While a potential new member can receive bids from more than one organization, they can only accept one bid. For some fraternities, a third night of men’s recruitment is used for call-backs.
The specific recruitment process for gender-inclusive organizations, such as Tabard and Panarchy undergraduate society, is different for each organization.
Huff said that the Greek recruitment process promotes community by being an inclusive and open system.
“Recruitment gives everyone an equal chance,” Huff said.
She added that the number of connections a potential new member has in a certain house does not affect the choices made throughout the process.
“The aim is to have potential new members come in open minded and see every house,” she said. “But it’s an inherently exclusive system just by the nature of what it is.”
Batangan said that based on the stereotypes portrayed in the media, she did not originally think she was suited for Greek life.
“Throughout the rush process, I met so many cool upperclass[men] women who I would’ve never had the chance to meet otherwise without the rush process, when I was literally forced to sit down and talk to them in their houses,” she said. “I wanted another community to add onto my already very strong NAD community.”
Sigma Delt’s shake-out process was established with the goal of providing potential new members with as much agency as possible, Kane said.
“They are coming here because they are interested in meeting people and seeing what the house is, then maybe coming again and saying that ‘I’d like to be a part of this space,’” she added.
Joyce, however, said he recognizes the pressure that the size of the Greek community can impose.
“There is almost this desperation about [joining a Greek house],” he said. “Here [students] feel like, ‘I have to get into a sorority because, especially for sophomore summer and other times, it’s such a big thing here and it’s not an option — I need to do this.’”
Since there are so many affiliated students on campus, Greek life can be crucial to people feeling like they fit in, Joyce added.
The ways in which each of the 28 College-recognized Greek organizations fosters community is different depending on the house. Some are member-focused and close-knit, while others develop a larger open and welcoming space.
“By the time our members are brothers, our community is already formed,” Sigma Nu fraternity president Lotanna Ezenwa ’17 said. “The formal recruitment process is not as applicable to us because we’re just a group of friends that like to hang out with each other.”
He added that Sig Nu’s recruitment process regards strong friendships in the house and involvement in their established community.
“[Tabard is] more of a community for our members and focused on the house itself, more than on the outside community,” Vickers said. “There is an interesting balance between a Greek house that is much more open and inviting, hosting more events, and a Greek house like ours, which is much more community-based and member-focused.”
Many regard their houses to be an aggregation from different parts of campus, creating a unique environment.
“When I walk into Chi Delt as a space, I know I will be surrounded by girls who don’t think the same way I do or act the same way I do or are interested in the same things I am interested in,” Batangan said. “That’s exactly why I came to college, to grow and be challenged.”
With weekly home-cooked meals and “Delta dates” over sophomore summer, Batangan said that Chi Delt works to “break down barriers so people can feel like they can be their whole selves stepping into Chi Delt.”
Kane added that Sigma Delt works to be an inclusive community for all self-identifying women on campus.
“We have so many different people who are interested in different things, involved in different sports, performance groups, and people who generally would not have met without that connection of the house,” she said.
The Dartmouth community undergoes unique transitions, frequently revolving around the D-Plan. During sophomore summer, only the sophomore class is on campus. In The Dartmouth’s survey, 90.1 of affiliated students said they felt “very connected” or “somewhat connected” to social life and activity on campus during sophomore summer, compared to the 52.5 percent of unaffiliated students that said the same.
“[Sophomore summer] is definitely different because it can be pretty Greek-centered – you have a lot of people living in their organizations, if they’re affiliated, or living with friends off campus,” said Kane, adding that there is a “different vibe.”
In the same survey, among sophomores, juniors and seniors, 76.4 percent of unaffiliated and 58.2 percent of affiliated students agree that Dartmouth needs more alternative spaces social spaces to Greek houses on campus. Of the freshmen responses, 59.3 percent agree with the statement. One such space that considers community a pillar of its foundation is the Collis Center.
Collis Governing Board president Sean Cann ’17 said that he thinks Collis provides a great alternative social space for students.
Cann added that the board has been intentionally focusing on weekly programming this year, pointing out Microbrew Mondays and Trivia Tuesdays as examples.
“It’s nice to have consistent events every week that people can show up to and know they have a place there,” he said.
Greek life at the College is not limited to one single narrative for the whole student population, Welch said.
“I think one of the best parts of our community here is that it means something different to every person,” said Welch. “It’s about creating a sense of unity, while trying your best not to make anyone feel excluded.”
Correction Appended (February 10, 2017):
Information has been added to a quote by Paul Vickers '19 to clarify comments about gender-inclusive fraternity Tabard's percentage of minority and low-income members in the article "The Strengths and Imperfections of the Greek System." The updated version clarifies that Vickers' quote refers to fraternities with College-recognized houses.
When it comes to identity, socioeconomic status can be the least visible aspect of a student’s life, yet also the most tangible to the student herself. At Dartmouth, the average student is likely to be more affluent than the average college student. The recent findings from the Equality of Opportunity Project revealed that at Dartmouth, the median family income is $200,400 and 69 percent of the student population come from the top 20 percent of the national income distribution.
First Year Student Engagement Program director Jay Davis ’90 said that one reason for the disparity between the proportion of students from low- and high-income backgrounds is the difference in the quality of education offered to students before they enter college. He said that this disparity can be explained by a different awareness of post-secondary school opportunities and the financial aid options that might exist at a school such as Dartmouth. FYSEP is a mentorship program for first-generation students in their first year at Dartmouth.
“Schools like Dartmouth were more traditionally designed to meet the needs of students who could afford that education,” Davis said. “It’s only more recently in the history that these schools have made a commitment to meeting financial aid needs.”
Dartmouth is one of 38 colleges that partners with Questbridge, a national nonprofit scholarship program that connects students from low-income backgrounds to elite colleges. Questbridge student liaison Bethany Malzman ’19 said that without Questbridge, she would not have been able to consider applying to Dartmouth.
Alexis Castillo ’19 said that the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth scholarship program was instrumental in her college application process.
“I didn’t know what college was until the ninth grade,” she said. “I was very frustrated going through the financial aid process, even with the help of a mentor whom I was very lucky to have. My mom and I, for the longest time, couldn’t figure out what one word meant and if it applied to us ... It kept adding up. I felt like I had to go through the process on my own.”
Castillo is also a first-generation student who is active in FYSEP, where she said she has found most of her friends on campus.
“My friend group is of a similar socioeconomic status as myself,” Castillo said. “I am also part of a Greek organization, but they are well aware of the different socioeconomic backgrounds within [my co-ed fraternity], and they try to be considerate of that.”
Castillo added that she found people she spent time with at Dartmouth were considerate or at least aware of the disparities resulting from socioeconomic class.
Davis said that from his experience, first-generation students are excited to know that there are other students from similar backgrounds as their own and that programs such as FYSEP and the Office of Pluralism and Leadership’s first-generation and low-income advising can provide a sense of community to low-income students.
“The realization that there are others of similar backgrounds who are succeeding — that’s important,” he said.
As a former Dartmouth student who came from a low-income background, Davis said that there seemed to be a default assumption that most students were well-off and were able to afford to travel back home, take vacations and have access to disposable income.
“For students who do not [have this access], it can feel lonely,” Davis said. “Socioeconomic status is more hidden than other markers of diversity.”
Victoria Corwin ’19 said that because her situation and her interests derived from her background, she naturally gravitated towards programs such as Dartmouth Quest for Socioeconomic Engagement.
“These kinds of communities [such as DQSE] bring themselves together naturally,” she said. “Some students just have more time and more money to do things that I wouldn’t normally do. They can afford to go to the [Hopkins Center] every week and see famous people; meanwhile, all of my friends are working, some of them say they don’t even have 10 dollars right now. What you do socially depends on your socioeconomic status, and it influences who you interact with.”
Castillo said that she has often had conversations with her friends about issues of balancing work and academics as well as extracurriculars. Other issues, such as family financial needs, can also affect a student’s time on campus, she said.
Low-income students are more likely to have financial challenges at home, which can make it difficult to focus on the academic challenges of Dartmouth, Davis said.
“There are many students at [the College] who are working jobs to send money home to pay for family expenses,” he said. “And a student who is working 35 hours a week to help pay for their family’s needs uses time differently from a student who can focus time on their own needs.”
Davis said that he is co-chairing a committee of staff and faculty called Money Matters with Rachel Edens, the assistant dean and advisor to first generation and low income students, to look specifically at the experience of low-income students so as to reduce inequities with high-income students.
Castillo said that certain actors in the Dartmouth community had to fight for the resources that are now available to low-income students. Castillo talked about her experience during spring interim, when all dining halls were closed, and she was unable to afford eating out every day. Davis and Edens, as well as 1vyG, a network of first-generation Ivy League students, helped to make this situation known to the College, and students staying over interim were provided with at least one meal a day by Dartmouth.
“There are resources I’m lucky to have, but we had to fight to get it — Dartmouth wasn’t created for low income students,” Castillo said.
Senior associate dean of student affairs Liz Agosto ’01 said that while the College tries to mitigate economic circumstances and allow low-income students to participate in core Dartmouth experiences, there remains a discrepancy in their sense of belonging.
Such discrepancies can exist in terms of academics. Castillo said that her socioeconomic background can affect her decision to take a class based on the cost of textbooks.
Agosto said that Dartmouth has bright students who were not able to go through a college-oriented high school experience. Putting students in classes such as Writing 2-3 instead of Writing 5 and providing resources like RWIT and free tutoring can help students achieve academic success, she said. However, Agosto said that the very act of reaching out for help and engaging with resources can be difficult if students were not socioculturally prepared to express themselves in those ways.
“When we created FYSEP, it was less about teaching people to navigate Dartmouth and more about accessing resources and asking for help,” she said. “It’s less about ability and more about being taught to ask for help and going to office hours. That creates a discrepancy in terms of access that we continue to fight against.”
Corwin said that many low-income students as well as first-generation students may have no experience or idea of what an Ivy League college has to offer. Figuring out financial aid and whether or not one can go abroad were some difficulties a student may face, she said.
“Socioeconomic status blends a lot with first-generation [status] so that can relate back to how people don’t know what they can do here,” she said.
The overlap of first-generation and low-income status can often lead to the misconception that one means the other. Castillo said that not every first-generation student is low income, and that Dartmouth’s definition of a first-generation student is someone whose parents did not receive a four-year college education in the United States.
“It can bring up an awkward conversation in the first-generation community,” Castillo said. “[Members of the community] are mostly the same socioeconomic status, but if there’s a first-generation student who doesn’t share the same experience, it can be easily noted.”
While different identities can gain prominence at different parts of one’s life, socioeconomic class can become a “great equalizer,” Agosto said, because access to resources is a shared experience and it cuts across all identities.
“But class can also exacerbate pressures or discriminations you already feel as a woman or person of color or as a member of the LGBT+ community,” she said. “It’s sometimes challenging to be a first-generation student who’s not low-income because there are conflations of those identities that aren’t accurate. It can be challenging to be white and low income because of the conception that your skin color makes you privileged in a way that you might not be.”
When it comes to discussion about class identity on campus, Corwin said that she has often felt the topic pushed away during most social interactions.
“I’ve only just realized that there’s so many people around me in different situations,” Corwin said. “It’s not something that Dartmouth kids bring up a lot. I don’t know if it’s because people assume everyone’s well off or can at least afford to participate in Dartmouth activities the way they can.”
Malzman said that she thought it was important to have discussions about socioeconomic status on campus and that such discussion would be helpful to people who come from different backgrounds, especially in a space created by a program like DQSE.
Agosto said that the creation of programs like FYSEP provides students with the ability to talk about being first-generation and low-income so that they feel that their identity is not something to be ashamed of. She said that students who have resources should acknowledge that there are students who are different.
“We have to find spaces to acknowledge why some students aren’t doing certain things or how are we treating students who work at dining halls,” Agosto said. “Some students who don’t work don’t acknowledge that there are students who are working and also taking classes. There is a need to recognize that your experience is not everyone else’s experience.”
The phrase “town and gown” refers to the relationship between an academic institution and the city in which it exists but is often used to describe disagreements or tensions that the two may have with one another. The town and gown do not always fit together.
For many of Hanover’s leaders, however, the town and gown do seem to complement one another — and quite well. The phrase has evolved to represent a symbiotic and inextricable relationship between the College and Hanover. Town manager Julia Griffin said that the strong history of this relationship, and the challenge of maintaining it, is what attracted her to the position almost two decades ago.
The evolution of small businesses on Main Street provides a window into this long-lasting relationship. Patti Fried, a co-owner of Lou’s Restaurant since 1992, said that because Lou’s has been in Hanover for so many years, and because so many Dartmouth community members have come through the restaurant, the best word to describe the relationship is “nostalgia.” The staff at Lou’s conscientiously maintains a balance between new and old aspects of the diner because of how large of a role it plays in Dartmouth students’ experiences, making sure to “keep up the trends for the new kids,” but not changing too much for the older alumni who come to visit, Fried added.
Established in 1947, Lou’s had been originally been a 24-hour business, running as a diner in the mornings and then transforming into a Mexican restaurant at night. When Lou’s decided to stop running as a 24-hour business and focus on breakfast and brunch, it did so to “focus on the students,” according to Fried. The eatery often bases its menu options based on what students prefer and request. When making recipes, Lou’s kitchen is conscientious of its ingredients, because it wants to provide healthy options to students and because Lou’s staff enjoy “nurturing the students with food,” as Fried says.
This nurturing relationship with students is something the townspeople have developed over the years as well, most recently coming to light when the Donald Trump administration promised new policies on immigration and the status of immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students on campus were questioned.
“When the DACA student issue hit the newspapers, I can’t tell you the number of people in our community who emailed me to say if those students ever need a safe house to live in, if the federal government cracks down on the DACA students, I’m volunteering two bedrooms in my house if they need it,” Griffin said. “Port in a storm.”
Many townspeople, according to Griffin, have a lot of affection for students, and part of the reason they choose to live in a college town is because of the students. Victoria Simek, a new co-owner of Morano Gelato, said that the students’ vibe, energy and diversity “bring a lot to the town” and make it as vibrant as it is.
Because the students are such a prominent part of the community, however, there are some aspects that cause concern, especially student drinking. Griffin said that throughout her time as town manager, she has seen the level of drinking among Dartmouth students increase “markedly,” including the instances of students drinking until they “blackout.” This troubles some Hanover residents, because they worry for both students’ well-being and their children’s impressions of Dartmouth students. Griffin says townspeople she has come in contact with speak about how children see heavily intoxicated Dartmouth students and wonder why they are in the state they are in. Students, she says, are on display “for better or for worse,” and their choices, recreational and otherwise, impact others in the community.
“Our kids who are growing up in this community are seeing student behavior at its finest and student behavior at its lowest,” she said.
According to Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis, drinking and disturbances caused by parties are also two main reasons for the police’s involvement with students, in addition to theft. The relationship between students and the police department in regards to drinking has actually improved over the years, according to Dennis, as students are no longer automatically cited when they are sent to Dick’s House for drinking-related issues as they once were before the change was made in 2015. Dennis said this practice of “projecting ourselves in the middle of the medical process,” which was in place when he arrived to the position, was not perceived well internally or externally, leading to the changes.
One of Dennis’ other concerns regarding students and the Hanover community is pedestrian safety around campus, in terms of jaywalking and looking at cellphones while walking in the streets. Jim Kenyon, a Norwich resident and columnist at the Valley News, identifies this issue as one of the “special challenges” that comes with living in a college town.
This neighborly aspect to Dartmouth’s relationship with Hanover is not restricted to students — in fact, it becomes extremely relevant in the College’s plans for expanding infrastructure and building new facilities, especially when those plans are close to residents’ property. Griffin said one of the first things she did as town manager was tighten the planning and zoning processes of the town, which she said were a bit loose. These processes present a tension within the Dartmouth-Hanover relationship.
“The biggest challenge we have in the town is when the College is developing new facilities on the periphery of the campus that abut a residential neighborhood,” she said. “Inevitably, abutters to that project are often concerned about growth and development happening right on the edge of the campus.”
Recently, the Hanover planning board did not approve the College’s proposed indoor practice facility. The building, which was to be located near Tyler Road, was denied planning permission in a four-to-one vote. The College is now appealing that decision at the Grafton County Superior Court on the basis that the project complied with the zoning ordinance and town regulations and that the planning board did not have the authority to deny the project, according to Griffin.
According to Griffin, the proposed rezoning of West Wheelock Street two years ago provoked controversy. She said that this project would have enabled the College to do additional construction on the north side of the street and replace old housing along West Wheelock with new housing that would be denser in terms of the residential units that could be constructed in a given space.
This motion initially failed at a town meeting because neighbors on the south side of West Wheelock Street were concerned about growth and development, Griffin said. However, it passed last year to build a new parking facility into the hillside below Thayer School of Engineering as a “much more scaled back version of the proposal that had failed the year before.”
According to Griffin, balancing the College’s growth with the understanding of neighbors’ interests in this densely-settled town is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with the town and its residents. She said this balance is necessary in any community that hosts a large institution, whether it is a college, a federal or state government facility or a large manufacturer. Hanover’s director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman said that from a town regulatory perspective, maintaining a level playing field for all applicants, including Dartmouth College, is “essential to [the board’s] process.”
At the same time, however, Dartmouth’s new buildings offer perks for the residents who can use those facilities. Dartmouth has collaborated with the town in joint-ventures that have been immensely beneficial to the community — projects that the town would probably not have been able to afford otherwise, according to Griffin.
For example, Griffin recalled when the community decided it was time to renovate Hanover High School and build a new middle school. The cost was $42 million, which would have been “a pretty exorbitant cost impact” for Hanover and Norwich residents, according to Griffin. The Hanover select board approached then-Dartmouth president Jim Wright and Dartmouth to fund a little over $9 million of that cost. Knowing that improving the high school and middle school facility was an important community asset that had some value for faculty and staff at Dartmouth, as well as newly recruited faculty and administration who were looking to relocate, the College agreed to help subsidize $9.2 million for the project. The College also paid $50,000 for a new boat for the Connecticut River for the fire department to use in emergencies, Griffin added.
Now, the College works with the town to plan joint cultural activities, facilitate events that happen on Dartmouth’s campus which the community also takes part in and collaborate on infrastructure projects, Griffin said. Such projects include rebuilding sidewalks, building a new bus shelter, burying utilities underground and switching street lights over to LEDs.
Dartmouth also directly contributes to Hanover infrastructure through tax contributions. This tax relationship means that Dartmouth, as a private college, pays property taxes on dorms and dining halls, making Dartmouth the largest taxpayer in Hanover, paying $7 million in dining halls and residence halls taxes alone, according to Griffin. The tax revenue goes towards the general fund operating budget for the town, which includes the operations of the public works department, police department, parks and recreation, planning and zoning, administrative debts and the two local libraries. In addition to this, Dartmouth pays a fire tax, a water tax and wastewater fees that go towards the water treatment facility, the water distribution system, the sewer collection system and sewer treatment facility, Griffin said. These taxes allow the town to do “a lot of things that your average community that hosts a state university in New Hampshire can’t do,” she said.
“I am sure that there are always people who think the College should be doing more than [it’s] doing, but a lot of our residents simply don’t have a really detailed sense of all that the College is doing in part because the College doesn’t blow its own horn about those things,” she said.
However, the problems that the College does have are under scrutiny by the community, such as the issues with Rennie Farm. The College was recently accused of contaminating the land of Hanover residents by burying animal remains that had been used for medical research at Rennie Farm in the 1960s and 1970s. Kenyon says the community is “waiting to see what Dartmouth does” in regards to this issue.
“[Dartmouth executive vice president] Rick Mills has talked about that — that they’re going to make it right — so people are just are very interested to see how the College defines that,” he said.
After Kenyon spoke with The Dartmouth, on Feb. 6 the College agreed to compensate homeowners for any losses they may experience in the housing market that are caused by the contamination.
Kenyon said that Dartmouth is a corporation and that its nature as a business often impacts the way it deals with issues like Rennie Farm and the rest of the community.
“People think that higher education is about is a philanthropic operation,” he said. “Those days are long over. So the important thing is for people to remember that Dartmouth is a business and they operate like a business.”
He and Griffin both point out that Dartmouth once had a community relations officer who was in charge of managing relations and issues with the town, but that position is no longer in place. Griffin said it would be helpful to have a person with a similar role whose job it is to “keep their ear to the ground and take the pulse of the community” to maintain College-town relations. However, College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement that Heather Drinan, an associate director in the office of the Vice Provost for Research, takes care of many aspects of community relations such as responding to community concerns, securing public grants, attending community meetings and meeting with public officials. Lawrence added that community relations are also handled by the College’s Real Estate Office, the Provost’s Office and the President’s office.
The College’s responsibility to actively maintain this relationship with Hanover, and divert resources to do this, is one of its competing priorities, according to Griffin. She acknowledged that the town cannot expect the College to use its money to better the town, and that the College’s mission is not to improve the town, but to educate their students. However, she believes that the more the College dedicates to the town, the more will be returned back to the students and the College community.
“It’s a balancing act, and I recognize that,” she said. “But I know as a municipal manager that there are all sorts of ways that we take care of our residents and that is so appreciated by our residents. It comes back to us tenfold in terms of positive impacts on the relationship that the town has with its constituents, and so I think it behooves the College to continue to stay focused on what they can do to support the community.”
Correction Appended (February 10, 2017):
A previous version of the article "The Town and the College: an interdependent relationship" published Feb. 10 in the Winter Carnival special issue misspelled town manager Julia Griffin's last name on one instance. The article has been updated to reflect this change.
Comprising 8.9 percent of the College’s undergraduate population, international students at Dartmouth represent more than 70 countries around the world. This group includes a future anthropology major from Bulgaria, a water polo enthusiast from Hong Kong and an aspiring South Korean doctor who sings semi-professionally in her leisure time. Not only do international students here have diverse cultural backgrounds and interests, but they also share different ideas about what it means to be an international student on this campus.
When Ray Guo ’19 first arrived at Dartmouth from Beijing, China, identifying as an international student was an unfamiliar feeling, he said. Over the past 18 years of his life, he said he had always identified as a Chinese student. However, the moment Guo landed in the United States, he acquired a second cultural identity, which he described as “broad but ambiguous.”
“I think the definition of an international student is just imposed upon us when we get to the U.S.,” Guo said.
According to Guo, the diversity of nationalities and cultures represented by the College’s international students makes it difficult for the entire international community at Dartmouth to be tight-knit.
“The only common thing that [international students] share is that we are just international and not U.S. citizens, so it doesn’t really make [international students] tight,” Guo said. “Within the international community, there are sub-communities that are really close like the Korean, the Chinese or the Latin American student communities.”
Taiwanese and Canadian dual citizen Herbert Chang ’18 explained why certain cultural groups on campus tend to be more closely knit than others.
“For one, people definitely feel the most comfortable with people that they are familiar with and who have experienced similar situations,” Chang said. “In that regard, a lot of my best friends are from Asia.”
From Jan. 22 to Jan. 29, The Dartmouth administered a campus-wide online survey of student attitudes toward different communities on campus, which garnered 532 responses. In this survey, 64.5 percent of respondents said that international students are “very integrated” or “somewhat integrated” in the general student body population at the College, while 26.4 percent of respondents said that international students are “not very integrated” or “not integrated at all.”
The percentage of international students in Dartmouth’s Class of 2020 is lower compared to that of other Ivy League institutions. International students comprise over 10 percent of most Ivy League schools’ freshman classes, but only eight percent of Dartmouth’s Class of 2020.
Many international students said that various programs organized by the Office of Pluralism and Leadership at the beginning of the year significantly helped them get to know each other and adjust to the new environment.
Four days before New Student Orientation, OPAL hosts the International Student Orientation. During this program, international students receive information about their responsibilities under the F-1 visa, go on shopping trips to West Lebanon and socialize with their peers.
Holly Sung ’20, an international student from the Czech Republic, said that she especially appreciated ISO’s social events because they had a substantial impact on connecting her to her peers.
“Social events such as the welcome barbecue helped me get to know a lot of international students,” Sung said. “Most of us had never come to the U.S. before, so we could relate to one another more easily.”
Many of the relationships that international students built during ISO last even after the program ends, according to Egyptian-American student Jebreel Samples ’19, who grew up in Qatar. A few of Samples’ close friends at Dartmouth are the people that he first met during the program, he said.
Besides the social interactions that take place throughout ISO, Tony Kirumba ’19, whose home is in Nairobi, Kenya, said that he mostly valued the sessions that discussed academics and residential life.
“By the time the New Student Orientation started, I felt pretty well situated,” Kirumba said. “I would say 80 percent of the time that I spent in [ISO] sessions was really valuable.”
He added that these sessions helped him better understand classes, life at Dartmouth, work and other logistics.
In addition to ISO, OPAL also coordinates the International Friendship Family Program, as well as the International Student Mentor Program.
The FFP matches international undergraduates with local families in the Upper Valley. Throughout the year, “friendship families” invite students to dinners, family outings and holiday celebrations. According to Chang, who is the FFP student coordinator, 90 to 120 students sign up every year. Chang also said that during the matching process, the FFP tries to group together students and families with similar interests.
Bulgarian student Veselin Nanov ’20 said that the FFP has provided him with a positive cultural experience so far.
“I am a prospective anthropology major, and I got matched with an anthropology professor,” Nanov said. “In the beginning of the year, during a family picnic, I met his entire family and we ate lunch.”
He added that the picnic was the highlight of the program for him.
Participants in the International Student Mentorship Program are assigned to upper-class Dartmouth students who are known as International Student Mentors. Mentors are responsible for assisting their freshmen mentees during their transition to Dartmouth for the fall and winter terms.
When Shirley Zhang ’19 landed in Boston Logan International Airport after a long flight from Chengdu, China, she was met by mentors who enthusiastically greeted her, she said. According to Zhang, the warm welcome she received lessened her anxiety and motivated her to apply to become a mentor her sophomore year.
South Korean student Kyoung Tae Kim ’20 said that while he valued the support he received from his mentor, the temporary nature of the program led to infrequent contact as the school year progressed.
“At first, I think the program is helpful because I have someone to ask questions to,” Kim said. “These days, I only occasionally talk to my mentor because there isn’t any scheduled programming for mentors and mentees.”
Despite the different programs that OPAL organizes every year, international students at Dartmouth have undergone various challenges as they tried to settle in the new environment. Students like Guo and Nanov experienced culture shock when they arrived, they said.
“Even if we have a lot of friends, when we exchange ideas, we are not really on the same page due to the difference in our past experiences and system of values,” Guo said. “It is sometimes hard to find someone who really understands you.”
Nanov added that the disparity between his expectations of Dartmouth and what he witnessed in reality was disappointing.
“I was unaccustomed to the ‘frat’ culture and found it challenging to accept that it is the primary way to spend leisure time,” he said.
According to Nanov, he was impressed by the number of academic lectures and events the College coordinates but was also disappointed with the consistently low student turnout.
“So few students attend the lectures held by the humanities speakers or [Hopkins Center] events,” Nanov said. “That is not what I had expected coming to a school with a reputation that Dartmouth has.”
Samples, who grew up in cities with large international populations, said he believed the College’s rural setting and its relative lack of international students made his adjustment to Dartmouth more difficult.
“[In a city], you have opportunities to be with and go to a community group and find other people from your background or other people from stories similar to yours,” Samples said. “It is difficult [at Dartmouth] since there aren’t many international students.”
Meanwhile, Kirumba said his adjustment phase was much smoother because he had family members living in the United States.
“Something I am thankful for is the feeling of home here,” he said. “When everyone leaves for ‘winterim’ to spend Thanksgiving with their families, I can do that here — I know that’s not the case with some of my [international] friends.”
One issue that international students said they believe will pose a challenge for the College’s future international community is the recent end of need-blind admission for international applicants. Starting with the Class of 2020, the financial need of international applicants was factored into admission decisions.
In an article published in The Dartmouth on Jan. 27, 2016 that focused on the application pool for the Class of 2020, director of admissions Paul Sunde wrote in an email that the number of applications from international students has either stayed constant or increased. However, many international students expressed concerns about the impact that this policy change will have on the international community.
“When the information [about the need-aware policy] came down, there was a lot of outrage — why was this decision being made, did they think about how this was going to affect people applying to Dartmouth because it’s an important part of their decision to come and that this opportunity is not going to leave us in crazy debt,” Kirumba said.
Guo said that this issue had a positive influence in bringing members of the international community together.
“The change in financial aid is the only issue that I could think of that binds the international community together and sheds some light on our identity as international students because we are fighting for the common cause,” Guo said.
According to Zhang, the College’s change to need-aware admissions illustrates its under-appreciation of international students.
“I think the College should focus on actually accepting more international students and not take financial aid away,” Zhang said. “I don’t think we are valued as much as international students in other institutions — [Dartmouth’s] actions don’t reflect how much they value us.”
Nanov said he also thinks that the current political climate has posed challenges to international students in all U.S. higher-education institutions.
“I feel like especially in light of the executive action on immigration signed by the president, the international community throughout all U.S. institutions have been affected,” Nanov said. “I think it’s important for the College and other students to realize that it’s a great challenge to come to the U.S. from abroad, so I would appreciate the support from other students on campus and the College administration.”
When people think of community at the College, they often limit themselves to the scope of the undergraduate population. However, graduate students at Dartmouth also learn together, study together and have fun together. Thayer School of Engineering, Tuck School of Business and Geisel School of Medicine are also characterized by a strong community spirit.
Several student-led organizations support communities in the graduate schools. The Thayer Council is the student council for Dartmouth engineering students while the MEM Student Council serves those engineering students working towards a Master of Engineering Management degree. First-year Thayer Ph.D. student and Thayer Council co-president Amogha Tadimety and MEM Student Council president Joey Rabinovitch Th ’18 attested to Thayer’s close-knit community.
Thayer plans various social endeavors as opportunities for the students to get to know one another better outside of the classroom, Tadimety said. These events include a Homecoming barbecue, a sailing event at Mascoma Lake and an annual January formal. Rabinovitch added that there is a “Friday Beers” event for Thayer students, faculty and staff every week. There are also frequent movie nights in the Thayer auditorium and evenings of dinner, dancing and live music, Rabinovitch said.
Tadimety said that these events have proven to be informal, natural ways in which students can socialize. Her experience at Thayer has emphasized to her the importance of forging bonds with students and faculty alike. Social opportunities organized by Thayer are especially appreciated by students who may live off campus and do not have the direct capacity to get to know other students better, Rabinovitch said.
“Now that I’m here, I’ve realized how important community is, especially at Dartmouth,” Tadimety said.
Rabinovitch said that he was in awe of the diversity at Thayer. The different perspectives in terms of academics and nationality help students work with one another, he said.
According to Geisel’s assistant to the associate dean for student affairs Tina Hoisington, Geisel plans an event called “Oh, the places you’ll go!” in which third and fourth-year medical students meet first and second year students at a local restaurant. There, students further along in their medical school experience talk with younger students about all the experiences ahead of them and answer any questions they may have, Hoisington said. She added that semi-formals and formals are great platforms for students at Geisel to reconnect with other medical students as well as students from the other graduate schools, especially given the frequent travel schedule of third and fourth year students. The semi-formals and formals are always well attended, she added.
At Geisel, students have the opportunity and are encouraged to constantly collaborate with the larger community and amongst themselves, Hoisington said. Each week, two to three students travel with a faculty member to do community service with organizations like the Good Neighbor Clinic, the Haven, the Claremont soup kitchen, the Manchester Sununu Program, David’s House and the Mascoma Clinic. Hoisington also said that Geisel hosts a community service day in which the school provide services such as free blood pressure checks and hand sanitizer to the greater community.
Tuck has a profound sense of community, said Laura Shen Tu’17 and Sally Jaeger, assistant dean and director of the MBA Program at Tuck.
“The sense of community leads to a transformative experience from the moment you walk on campus to the moment you graduate,” Shen said.
Shen said that the residential experience of first-year students grants them the opportunity to learn, study and form connections with one another. More than half of first-year Tuck students live on campus. Since this community is one that supports students, Shen said that students feel comfortable in taking risks. The diverse group of students with different types of experiences also leads to a unique community spirit, Shen said.
Jaeger added that students choose to come to Tuck because they want to be part of a community. There are a variety of programs that integrate Tuck into the other graduate schools, including the MEM MBA program between Tuck and Thayer, Jaeger said. There are also social events like the Suits and Stethoscopes party thrown annually in order to foster relationship building between Tuck and Geisel students.
In terms of connections to undergraduate students at Thayer, Tadimety said that she does not see significant interaction beyond professional outreach in the laboratory, where graduate students interact with and support undergraduate students. Rabinovitch agreed, adding that Thayer students are primarily interested in developing friendships with their fellow classmates. The one main exception would be the graduate students who participate in the residential fellows program at the College, Rabinovitch said. The residential fellows program places graduate students in each of the undergraduate housing communities and is designed to integrate undergraduate and graduate students through activities like mentoring, tutoring and dinners.
Hoisington said that because Geisel’s schedule differs fundamentally from the undergraduate student schedule, it is difficult to establish connections between undergraduates and the medical school. Geisel students are also encouraged to participate in undergraduate events such as the polar bear plunge during Winter Carnival, Hoisington said. Interim dean of Geisel Duane Compton wrote in an email that there are many opportunities for undergraduate students to explore medicine at Geisel, especially the shadowing program in which students follow physicians and learn more about various medical fields and professions.
The relationship between Tuck and the College has only grown over the years, Jaeger said. Tuck faculty members teach three courses for undergraduate students, Tuck students in the Women in Business club mentor student-athletes, the Tuck Bridge program exposes undergraduate students to the methods and knowledge of business and Tuck partners with the Rockefeller Center to provide internships to a group of Dartmouth students through the Paganucci program.
Though students often make friends through different classes, clubs, sports teams and performance groups, one common place students tend to form long-term relationships is on their floor or in their building. Living Learning Communities take that idea to the next level by housing people together who have similar interests and want to integrate them into their daily lives.
In an online survey with 532 student respondents by The Dartmouth, among students who have lived or currently live in an LLC, 66.2 percent said that LLCs have had a positive impact on their Dartmouth experience, 25.5 percent reported no impact and 4.5 percent said there was a negative impact. The numbers correlate to a variety of factors, some well-known by all Dartmouth students while others are not as visible to students outside of the LLCs.
According to Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Delivery LLC Student Coordinator Nathan Busam ’17, a student’s level of engagement with the LLC depends in part on how involved they choose to be in the LLC’s activities and events.
“Some students are very engaged, and they come to all the events; other students are too busy, or they just kind of live there,” Busam said.
Though the application process highlights the benefits revolving around living in a community based on identity and intellectual discourse, housing benefits seem to be a factor just as significant in a student’s choice for living in the LLCs. In The Dartmouth’s survey, 39.6 percent of students reported housing benefits as their primary reason for choosing to live in an LLC. Only 7.5 percent chose programming as their primary reason, and 49.2 percent chose both.
Regardless of the reason for a student’s interest in an LLC, however, programming within each community is diverse and provides several benefits to students both affiliated and unaffiliated with the LLCs.
One such benefit that several LLC residents and leaders emphasized was the way in which LLCs are spaces accepting of religious, cultural or gender and sexuality-related identities that might not otherwise be acknowledged.
Leah Torrey, Tucker Center multi-faith advisor and staff advisor of the Interfaith LLC, said that the Interfaith LLC often operates as a “safe space” for students who feel that their religious identity is not welcomed in everyday conversation.
“[Religious people] can easily be themselves on the Interfaith floor, so it’s not uncommon for religious minorities to find this floor and stay on this floor,” Torrey said.
Whether students are religious, agnostic or atheist, the LLC requires all students to have one hour of “religious or moral conversation” per week, either at the floor’s weekly Sunday dinner or Tucker’s Multifaith Conversations on Tuesday nights. Students must also attend one alternative religious service per term and are assigned a roommate with different religious views than theirs.
Rafa Rosas ’20 also described Triangle House as a safe space for “LGBTQIA+” students. According to Rosas, half of the programming by Triangle House has to do with social activism, and the other half has to do with important issues such as mental, physical and sexual health. Members will be pursuing a project this spring term coding data related to research about sexual assault prevention.
International students and students of color can also find a home in the McLaughlin Cluster. According to Makisa Bronson ’20, a member of the Great Issues Scholars LLC, the Global Village cluster and LLCs in general create a space for students to feel “appreciated and included.” The Great Issues Scholars LLC is part of the Global Village.
“Since we all have such diverse experiences and come from entirely different backgrounds, I’ve felt that these are some of the most complex and rewarding friendships that I’ve been able to have so far in my life,” Bronson said.
Bronson observed that this welcoming environment is not only created by racial diversity but also centered on the common interests of members, who are all dedicated to learning about and educating themselves on issues of global importance.
In The Dartmouth’s survey, 40.8 percent of non-white students said that LLCs had a positive impact on their time at Dartmouth, while only 22.1 percent of white students said the same.
Also in the Global Village LLC cluster is the Japanese Language Program, which is a community centered around integrating education about Japanese language and culture into dorm living. Emily Grabowski ’18, who has been both a member and undergraduate advisor in the program, said that it is designed to help students of different proficiency levels improve their knowledge of Japan. Though students are encouraged to practice speaking Japanese as much as possible, there is no strict rule regarding the usage of English.
“Not having a strict language requirement really makes it a more inclusive environment so people who don’t have as strong a language skill can still feel included,” Grabowski said. “I think that’s really important for the community building aspect.”
According to faculty advisor James Dorsey, events for Japanese Language Program students include the “3 F’s,” or “Food and Film with Faculty,” where a faculty member picks a movie to watch over dinner with students and leads a discussion afterwards. Members also attend student-centered events, like cooking Japanese food and singing karaoke.
The Chinese Language House, a standalone LLC on North Main Street, provides a similar experience for students who want to improve their fluency in Chinese language and culture. According to Chinese Language House member Catherine Conway ’17, the learning experience may be more valuable for students advanced enough to speak outside of a classroom setting, but advanced speakers do help less-experienced members.
According to Conway, Chinese Language House members commit to eating dinner while speaking Chinese with live-in advisor and visiting professor Hesheng Zhang every week. Though speaking Chinese at all times is mandatory in theory, the rules are in place to encourage students to practice, rather than to restrict them to speaking only Chinese, Conway said.
Many LLCs are only a few years old, and LLC administrators and residents expressed ideas for change and excitement about future developments.
The LLC system continues to evolve with the possibilities of the “Design Your Own Community” LLC initiative. Both the Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Delivery LLC and the Thought Project LLC are student-designed.
Busam said that coordinating events for his LLC would be easier with more support from the administration in terms of dealing with logistics and securing funding for events. More communication between administrators and LLCs, as well as clarification on which administrator to reach out to for a specific project, would be helpful, Busam added. Torrey also said that she felt there was some ambiguity regarding who to contact and what kind of requests were reasonable to make.
Torrey also brought up how LLCs can be integrated into the new house community system. Certain LLCs are trying to foster a larger sense of general community among the houses by having joint events with other LLCs.
The Interfaith LLC, for example, has collaborated with the Thought Project LLC by hosting an event in which environmental studies and writing professor Terry Osborne shared a spiritual autobiography “in secular terms” in Occom Commons, Torrey said. According to Busam, the Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Delivery LLC has also had very similar speakers to the Thought Project and is attempting to collaborate in the future with the Thought Project.
Recently, a barbecue and winter outdoors activity event was hosted for all LLC students. By aiming for an “LLC identity,” the program helps make students feel included even if they might feel excluded from the housing system, Conway said.
Rosas, however, expressed a desire for his LLC to be more connected with the rest of the school. Though non-LGBTQ identifying students are welcome in Triangle House, only residents have access to the building.
“I understand the necessity for a space safe, but it would be really nice to have [Triangle House] open for set time frames where it’s open to the broader community,” Rosas said.
Rosas expressed his appreciation for Queer Family Dinners, which are events held in Triangle House by Spectra, a club for queer and allied students at Dartmouth.
“Triangle House is huge [in terms of size] for the amount of people that live in it, [so] it always makes me sad that not more things happen there because it has the potential to be such an amazing space,” Rosas said. He also said that he hopes more events will be held at Triangle House, especially as Spectra grows.
Dartmouth’s commitment to fostering a supportive community is highlighted prominently on the College’s website and in its marketing materials. However, faculty and staff at the College have differing opinions on whether Dartmouth has succeeded in its efforts to create the inclusive community it promotes and publicizes. Some of the new changes implemented by the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative, such as the house communities and an increased focus on academic rigor, seem to be having an effect on the sense of community felt on campus.
Peter Marsh of facilities, operations & management, who has spent over 30 years working at Dartmouth and is a former trustee for Dartmouth’s branch of the Service Employees International Union, said that he has observed some negative changes in Dartmouth’s community atmosphere over the years.
Marsh explained that students seem to be more academically stressed than ever before. He added that students’ increased focus on academics might have come at the expense of long-standing Dartmouth traditions. Among the traditions he said that Dartmouth has lost is the construction of snow sculptures during Winter Carnival.
Marsh, who grew up in Hanover, recounted a time decades ago when students built snow sculptures “everywhere.” He added that now, it seems that students are too busy to build any snow sculptures at all. On Jan. 13, a campus-wide email announcement from the Winter Carnival Council explained that “many years of declining involvement from the student body” led the Council to focus its efforts on other Winter Carnival events. The Council also listed decreasing snowfall and an absence of student leadership as reasons for its decision.
Marsh remarked that over the years, campus-wide enthusiasm about events like Homecoming seems to have gradually decreased.
The loss of these traditions could be tied to a larger change in Dartmouth’s community atmosphere as a whole, he said.
Marsh also said that, in the last decade, a strain of elitism has pervaded campus. He said that this elitism was not entirely contained within the student body. On some occasions, Marsh said he has felt as though Dartmouth community members have treated him as “the help.”
He also said that over the years, political correctness has stifled free speech and open discussion on campus. According to Marsh, students used to be more receptive towards more conservative publications like The Dartmouth Review.
Students do not want to read anything that they do not agree with, he added.
Still, on the whole, community at Dartmouth is more of a positive factor than a negative one, Marsh said.
Physics professor Ryan Hickox, who is also West House’s house professor, said he has not noticed any negative trends in student behavior towards each other, faculty and staff during the six years he has worked at the College. While there are some isolated instances where students are disrespectful towards others, these incidents appear to have become less common throughout his time at Dartmouth, he added.
Dartmouth Dining Services supervisor Gordon Wright said that he has not noticed any trends related to elitism or increased academic stress on campus.
He characterized all of the interactions that he has had with students during his seven-year tenure at DDS as positive, noting that he becomes especially familiar with athletic teams that frequent the Class of 1953 Commons.
He added that most of the interactions he has witnessed occurring between students have been positive.
Hickox said that house communities might further strengthen the College’s campus community as future classes become more involved in the programming. He said that house communities could facilitate “genuine interactions among diverse groups of people.”
House communities also facilitate interactions between faculty members who might otherwise not have ever crossed paths, he said.
“Our house communities provide an opportunity for faculty members in different departments to get together in a purely social environment,” Hickox added.
Wright also said that DDS’ policy of providing faculty members with discounted prices, as well as the Paganucci Lounge, which provides faculty with a space to dine with colleagues, have attracted more faculty to eat at ’53 Commons. The increasing presence of College faculty at the dining hall has allowed him to become familiar with faculty members he might not have otherwise encountered, he said.
Marsh, however, said that the College has felt increasingly impersonal and corporate, adding that Dartmouth’s previously-existing personal culture set it apart from other universities.
Hickox said that he has not observed any degradation in the College’s ideals of civility, respect, empathy and rigor in his time at the College.
“Most of the things that I see happening on campus give me a very positive sense of where the community is going,” he said. “The vast majority of the interactions that I see [occurring between students] are really positive.”
Dartmouth’s athletic programs aren’t as flashy as Duke University basketball or Ohio State University football, but to those undergraduates at the College who are varsity athletes, their teams are just as important as the teams playing high-profile games on national television.
For football co-captain Folarin Orimolade ’17, playing at Dartmouth changed his “life for the better.”
“It was an amazing feeling to be a part of such an amazing institution with a storied tradition,” Orimolade said. “The team in particular has meant so much to me.”
Like many members of the team, Orimolade has invested countless hours into the football program, resulting in the formation of a strong bond among members.
“When you’re so focused on the goal of winning a game and the preparation for that, and you’re spending all this time working out with each other, watching film with each other, fighting with each other, it makes for a close-knit bond that can’t be broken by anything,” Orimolade said.
In addition to mandatory practice and film sessions, the football team eats together almost every day, in and out of season. With all their shared time, on and off the field, Orimolade’s teams have compiled an impressive 27-13 four-year record. The senior himself finished his career second all-time in sacks for the Big Green with 23.5 and was the 2016 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
Similarly, James Hickok ’17, the goalkeeper and captain for the men’s soccer team, experienced success on the field and noted how close he is to his teammates. Hickok considers the seven seniors on the soccer team to be his closest friends, and he currently lives with five of them.
This past fall, Hickok helped lead Dartmouth to the second round of the NCAA tournament. His seven shutouts during his senior season are tied for fourth most in a single season in Dartmouth soccer history.
While there are many positives to participating in varsity athletics, working as both a student and an athlete simultaneously is not easy. For Orimolade and Hickok, the commitment is unyielding.
“[The season] consumes your mental capacity, more than even your time, because you have games coming up, and you’re always worried about your performance,” Hickok said.
Even on top of their already busy schedules, many student-athletes choose to participate in various extracurricular and volunteer activities. Hickok knows teammates involved in all sorts of off-field activities, from band and the arts to mentorship programs off-campus.
“We try to do our best as a team to get involved in fundraisers and events that [the athletic department] throws,” Hickok said. “You don’t have time like you do out of season to do things like skiing though. In season, soccer is a focus almost around the clock.”
Orimolade, who has taken four classes in each of his last three terms, knows the struggle of balancing athletics and academics as well as anyone.
“Your time is essentially gone from two to eight o’clock, and you have class before that,” Orimolade said. “It’s a struggle to find time sometimes. You always make time for whatever’s important to you though.”
Midway through his seventh season with the school, athletic director Harry Sheehy prides the athletic department on its continued commitment to academics.
“The experience academically comes first,” Sheehy said. “We talk about a balance between academics and athletics, but I think academics should be the heavier weight. Our students have chosen to come here to a Division I Ivy League program so obviously the demands are significant. Learning to balance those things and to make good decisions is all part of growing up.”
Through programs like Dartmouth Peak Performance, Sheehy and the athletic department incorporate academics into their athletic sphere. Dartmouth has led Division I programs in six-year graduation rate in four of the last five years and has led Division I programs in Academic Progress Rate in each of the last four. The Academic Progress Rate rates NCAA varsity teams on a scale from one to 1000, and is a measure of athletes’ academic performance and retention.
“What we do in athletics is not academic in nature, but it is certainly educational in nature,” Sheehy said. “I look at these 35 varsity teams and our club programs as learning laboratories to help the young folks mature and gain confidence and strength to be able to perform at their highest level. We’re trying to bring assets to bear that will enable our athletes to have great success on the field and off the field.”
Sheehy fosters the connection between the athletic administration and the teams he overlooks by getting out of his office as much as he can and working with the teams directly. He visits every team captain to talk about goals and challenges before the season gets underway. In addition to continued contact with coaches, he regularly speaks to entire Dartmouth teams. For Sheehy, there is no disconnect between coaches, professors, students, athletes and administrators at Dartmouth.
He sees the athletic programs as important in unifying the Dartmouth community.
“No one feels the same way about anything of importance, but if we’re playing Harvard [University] in Homecoming football, for three hours virtually the whole stadium feels the same way,” he said.
Especially at a college with an immensely diverse range of viewpoints, athletics are in a unique position to rally the student body behind a single cause. Just ask any of the hundreds of students who waited in line outside Thompson Arena for the hockey game against Princeton University.
“We bring the community on board with us as we try to have success,” Sheehy said.
When we think of “Dartmouth,” we think of our friends, our scenic campus and of course, our professors — but do the faculty at the College also feel a unique sense of community? One of the most defining elements of a “Dartmouth education” is learning what the word “community” really means. At Dartmouth our sense of community sets our experience apart from others and what, ironically, binds us all together. There is a reason why Dartmouth has one of the most loyal and far-reaching alumni networks. There’s a reason why alumni and families religiously flood into Hanover every Homecoming weekend. And there’s a reason why the student body as a whole is seemingly clothed in one particular shade of green. That reason? Community.
The concept of “Dartmouth” is much more than a charming New England Ivy League institution. It’s much more than the pretty facade of Dartmouth Hall or the echo of the clock in Baker Tower. The Dartmouth we know and love is composed of the people who populate and give life to our seemingly idyllic campus. Our vigorous sense of community is a reflection of not only the dynamic student body but also the faculty who captain our big green ship.
According to history professor Edward Miller, who has taught at the College for 13 years, there is in fact “a very strong community among the faculty at Dartmouth.”
As I spoke to different professors about why they decided to stay at Dartmouth, I quickly realized that our hybrid identity as both an undergraduate college and a top-tier research university was one of the most attractive aspects to many of the long-residing faculty.
“Dartmouth is the only school I know of that really tries to split the difference, that really emphasizes that they want their faculty to be both excellent teachers and cutting edge outstanding researchers,” Miller said. “And so for me that’s the most distinctive thing about Dartmouth.”
According to Miller, another benefit of teaching at Dartmouth is the size of the faculty community. He said that the College has a large enough faculty group to introduce diversity, though it is not as big as other high-level research universities.
“At some of these large research universities you can spend your whole career there and never get to know people in many other departments because the community is just too big,” Miller said. “Here at Dartmouth, if you stay here long enough you will meet most of your colleagues, even in other departments and other divisions.”
Miller added that he likes that his “primary home,” the history department, is medium-sized, because it allows faculty in the department to specialize in their teaching.
“You can teach courses on the area of your research specialty,” he said.
Dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and government professor Michael Mastanduno, who has been a faculty member at the College for over 30 years, echoed Miller’s sentiments on Dartmouth’s “rare” balance between teaching and research.
“Dartmouth is a place where it really brings the two together, and it gives faculty members time and resources to be leading scholars but also creates a culture where the undergraduate experience is a top priority,” Mastanduno said.
Mastanduno said he observed how many of the faculty “really engage in the culture here.”
“It’s a small community, but it’s also cultural,” he said. “There’s a sense here, for example, that faculty members feel they should participate in the governance of the school.”
Mastanduno added that faculty are involved in the College community through their engagement in its governance. Faculty care about their colleagues and the success of the institution, he said.
Even those who never envisioned a career in academia have found a home at Dartmouth. After working on economic policy in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Illinois, economics professor Douglas Irwin said he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in academia, but for his wife, fellow economics professor Marjorie Rose, the feeling was not exactly mutual. The couple, who have been staples of the Dartmouth economics department for 19 years, explained how slowly but surely, Rose came to adopt Dartmouth as a new home for their family.
In the process of acclimating to her new career path after leaving her job at the International Monetary Fund in D.C., Rose said she discovered a love for teaching she never knew she had before.
“I just love teaching Dartmouth students,” she said.
Rose and Irwin described that being both a couple and professors in the same department has ultimately allowed them to become better educators. They explained how they are able to lean on each other and ask, “What are the things that are interesting to our students?”
Irwin and Rose said they found a community at the College through their relationship with their students. For nine years now the couple said they have hosted “senior women dinners” at their home. They added that conversations during one of these student dinners was the “impetus for the Political Economy Project,” a program directed by Irwin.
Similarly, Miller and Mastanduno also said their students were an important reason that they were inclined to engage in the Dartmouth community.
“I really do think that the students are the best thing about Dartmouth,” Miller said. “I think that as a group, you will not find a group of undergraduates who are more committed to learning for learning’s sake.”
Winters at Dartmouth are my favorite terms. Winters in general are my favorite time — there is something magical in the beginning of the year, the promise of something new and the hope for many snow days. I have been on campus every winter, and I have come to appreciate this hated term for slightly shorter lines at the Collis Center and a general acceptance of not going out on Friday nights. I have also come to appreciate how much my winters here have taught me about Dartmouth’s mythical community.
I say “mythical” because I’m not sure Dartmouth’s community really exists. Dartmouth’s community is advertised as this passionate, loving, all-consuming entity in which first-years feel welcomed from the moment they step onto Robo lawn during Trips. While that welcoming spirit is undeniably present at many moments, Dartmouth’s community feels fractured to me.
My first winter, I learned how much I could hate Dartmouth. I was not taking hard classes, and it was snowing a lot, which should both be positive things, but I was floundering in search for something that could be mine and a place where I could feel at home. Memories of fall of my first year feel hazy and overwhelming. Nothing stuck from that fall besides my academics (taking History 24, “The Cold War & American Life,” was the best decision I have made in my time here — that professor is now my thesis advisor). That failure to find solid ground in the fall — I joined no clubs and became a member of no groups — translated to feeling lost in this supposedly close community. I learned a lot that winter about the worst in people; simultaneously, I realized how much I longed to find a community within Dartmouth, because “Dartmouth” as a community just was not enough. Being a Dartmouth student gives you a sense of camaraderie, not necessarily a supportive community. Whether or not communities, by default, must be supportive is a question for another day. But in my imagination, in a community, people actively care for one another. That winter, I didn’t feel cared for.
My second winter, I began to find spaces that cared for me. Beginning to work out what I had valued over my first year and a half, I realized the communities I valued were exclusively female. In the female-dominated social spaces and the group chats that were never silent, I began to build my community out of the women here. That same winter, I took Religion 20.2, “Magic, Science & Religion,” hoping to learn about magical worlds (we did not). That term I learned the magical world was not some alternate universe but finding magic in the mundane of Dartmouth: in the pleasures of sending music to friends, in the dependency of a weekly lunch date, in teaching skiing and in beginning to find my voice about how I felt toward Dartmouth. I started writing more; I remember best a piece for Mouth entitled, “How are you?” about how fake our daily interactions here are and an anonymous submission to Voices that winter. At Voices, when a girl walked out onto the stage and began telling my story, tears started streaming down my face. My friends enveloped me in hugs and held me and reassured me that my story was important and I didn’t sound stupid. These women caring for me reminded me that I had found my own little community here at Dartmouth.
My third winter, I found joy in Dartmouth. Not for the first time, but for the most sustained time. I wasn’t taking classes, and the issues that typically characterize my terms here – insurmountable workloads and stress – faded away into research I enjoyed, wintery adventures that let me explore the beauty of the Upper Valley and dedicated viewings of “Jane the Virgin.” Happiness is so fleeting here; one moment, I can feel so happy and so content, thinking, “Wow, I love this place,” and the next, I feel so dejected and drained that I don’t know how I have ever enjoyed school. But that winter, that third winter, reminded me of all the love that exists in my life because of Dartmouth. All the magic of music blitzes and yummy sandwiches on sourdough bread and drinking good beer with good friends.
Now, during my final winter, I am struggling to reconcile the moments of magic in this place and this community with the moments where I feel as lost as I did that first winter. I try to understand how a place that has brought me my closest friends and helped me uncover my academic passions has also been extraordinarily challenging and draining. I am trying to help spaces and communities I belong to and care deeply about become more inclusive. But I struggle with how communities premised on exclusivity, like Dartmouth itself, can ever be considered inclusive. I am frustrated by the failures of our community, from the small to the large, and the current inability of Dartmouth to make every student on this campus feel supported and protected. I am frustrated by the trust that should be there in a hookup that is not, by the lack of support for the most marginalized students here and by the notion that one Dartmouth community fits all.
During the winter, Dartmouth is the best, even though it can sometimes be the worst. It reminds me that I love snow days more than anything. It reminds me that not everyone can understand Dartmouth’s community the way I do, and I can’t understand it as my peers do. Everyone at this school has competing views of Dartmouth, not only as the school ought to be but as it exists. Trying to reconcile these divergent views of a place we all share to form one opinion on Dartmouth’s community is just not possible. But I know this: I would take my friendships, the women who have made this place meaningful and magical, over this large and mythical community any day.
There is a lot to the name “Dartmouth.” The Dartmouth of today bears almost no resemblance to the College on the Hill that Eleazar Wheelock founded in 1769. The school itself has grown to become one of the wealthiest and most storied universities in the country, with a brand that has swelled in tandem. The student body is larger, multi-ethnic, multi-national, gender-inclusive and home to many amazing minds and talents. These are all expected markers of the 21st century university, but reflecting on how drastically Dartmouth has evolved over the years demonstrates that this place is made up by those who inhabit it. The name “Dartmouth” is defined by its community; everything that the name connotes is the product of our shared actions. That also means that people’s perception of this place will vary depending on what part of the community they have come to know. You learn that just by wandering around campus.
At the same time as crowds hop up and down Webster Avenue, there are theatrical works being put on at the Hopkins Center for the Art, and spoken word performed in One Wheelock. Groundbreaking research and last-minute problem sets are completed while a student band plays to a packed crowd. On any given day, there are club events, Greek life activities, nature outings, art shows, socials and sporting events of every level for campus to engage in. We pride ourselves on our involvements and interests so much that we affiliate them with our identities at Dartmouth. For all this supposed diversity of identity and involvement, I consistently feel as if the school is not as interconnected as it should be. Those same communities we find silo too many of us away from the greater community, leading to wildly divergent experiences depending on who you surround yourself with. In a time when understanding those who are not like us has become paramount, I’m concerned that even at our small liberal arts college we still find ways to insulate ourselves.
Discussions on how to build functioning diverse communities shouldn’t be new to Dartmouth students. The debates that embroil campus usually focus on how large, quantifiable groups fit into campus. The Greek system has long been the central pillar of community at Dartmouth, though campus has also debated how to build more inclusive clubs, sports teams, performance groups and social scenes. A central goal of College President Phil Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative is premised on the idea that you can build community through organizations and social engineering. This is a fair approach, as similar people tend to gravitate toward each other. What’s often overlooked in these talks, however, is the very personal and individualized nature of community building. Community is, after all, just people en masse, united by common bonds. If we as a Dartmouth community are serious about bridging interest, race, wealth and lifestyle divides, then we must be willing to communicate outside of our familiar spaces.
Healthy community building occurs on the individual level. It’s all too natural for us to reduce each other to some demographic or group membership. We don’t make it easier for ourselves when we literally wear our affiliations on our sleeve, whether it be some club, sport, Greek house or housing community. It is a mistake, however, to look at any group as a monolith. Even the most homogenized group is still made up of individuals, all of whom have a unique combination of identities and lived experiences. Humanizing others and coming to respect and accept their differing identities is the first step to creating the bonds that we desire. It is easy to understand and communicate with someone who shares your interests, but it becomes difficult and potentially challenging when differences are more apparent. However, you do not need to be identical to another person to have camaraderie. If we want to build a stronger, more connected campus, then we must take the time to learn about and interact with each other as individuals. Rome wasn’t built in a day — and neither was its culture and identity.
All of this requires that we be fearless in action. In context, it’s a bit strange to call venturing into some party, club or event you’ve never been to before a brave act, but confidence and good faith are often requisite when entering unfamiliar spaces. This principle is key to building community on campus and in society at large. The Balkanization of the Friday night social scene is inevitable, but such differences in expression should never bar us from interacting or sharing in spaces with which we are connected. Dartmouth will always mean many different things to different people, but as students it is necessary to appreciate the fact that there is no one way to “do Dartmouth” and that all communities on this campus, and the school itself, are ours to shape, not the other way around. We should also take the opportunity to learn from the exceptional and diverse student body that is assembled here, as in all likelihood this is the last time that most of us will be surrounded by those unlike us. We owe it to each other to at least acknowledge and respect our classmates as individual people, even if we occupy divergent worlds. This is not a recipe for social harmony, but any step toward a closer-knit campus must start with the one-on-one.
Communité is the Anglo-French word that gave rise to our English word “community.” Communité signified commonness, everybody — inspiring a warm, fuzzy feeling of wholesomeness. “Community” is one of the first words that came to mind when I first visited Dartmouth during Homecoming in fall of 2013. Basking in the glorious peak foliage of New England autumn, I saw alumni — proudly flaunting sweaters from class years way before either of my parents’ birth years — interacting with the eager, albeit nervous, members of the Class of 2017 getting ready to take part in the “cultish” tradition of running around the spectacular bonfire as the newest members of the Dartmouth collective. My decision was made. I decided to apply to Dartmouth right then and there.
Now in my fifth term at Dartmouth, my definition — and definitely the College’s definition — of community has taken quite a few turns. Under the all-encompassing shadow of the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative, the Dartmouth community has seen highs and lows, unifying solidarity and strained tensions. These changes have been openly embraced by some parts of the campus population and loudly protested by others. But amidst all this change, one trait has remained constant: Dartmouth’s openness to engage in dialogue and voice dissenting opinions. Whether it is inside classroom walls discussing current events or in public spaces, our communal spirit extends to the macro level. And after the strong reactions that the recent presidential election and its fallout have elicited, our conception of the Dartmouth community is drastically changing and expanding.
“Community” is the free space where students and veteran groups from across the Upper Valley can openly protest and express dissenting views. Community is fostered through the respect that it takes to step outside of your comfort zone and listen to a story markedly different from yours. After all, inclusion begins with communication. Our campus has been very receptive to initiating dialogues that, at times, may involve uncomfortable and sensitive issues but ultimately lend themselves to a robust worldview. In this time of change, it is important to be cognizant of our attempts at inclusion so that we do not unintentionally create exclusionary practices.
After the inauguration, 3.3 million people participated in a Women’s March against the policies of President Donald Trump throughout the country, including several groups of Dartmouth students and alumnae. These events featured speeches from public figures across the political spectrum and galvanized many to stand up for their rights and their fellow citizens’ rights, under threat now more than ever.
The Women’s March is a shining example of our most essential and innate constitutional right as American citizens: the right to assemble and protest. That right has fueled the birth and growth of the country we all lovingly call our own: the United States of America.
But despite this apparent unity, divisions remain. Not all women agree about Trump and his policies. In achieving victory, he carried the votes of 42 percent of women — including 53 percent of white women. Many have discussed the marginalization of working-class white voters in the Rust Belt and their dissatisfaction with former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, perceived as one of the key factors that propelled Trump to his victory in key states like Ohio and Wisconsin.
While it is true that many of the policy measures Trump hopes to enact are particularly threatening to women and minority groups, the direct sexism that many protesters see in Trump and his team should not breed indirect sexism in retaliation. This holds true for our Dartmouth community as well. In these politically tumultuous times, it is important to reinforce our values of openness to all opinions in an academic and intellectually stimulating environment. In the microcosm of our College on the Hill, it is easy to trap ourselves in a bubble. But we have to remain mindful of the fact that our community consists of not only the student population but also the communities in the Upper Valley region that have ensured the success of the College from 1769 to the present day. And of course we are also a part of a national community. Let’s hope that inclusion doesn’t end up excluding.
When I visited a friend in Berkeley, California, I noticed something odd as we sat on a café bench still damp from the rain. Blocking my view of the road were seven battered and disused newspaper vending machines. I pointed them out to my friend, and he remarked sullenly, “Don’t make me look at them any longer; it’s too depressing.”
He had a point. There was something sad and even surreal about those clunky objects that no longer served a purpose. They were forgotten — literally left by the wayside. I had needed five minutes just to register their total lack of presence. It was strange to be confronted by a labor-saving device that itself had become obsolete and stranger still to feel emotional about it.
Newspaper vending machines are distant memories for my generation, like a well-loved relative who died in our infant days. I vaguely recall seeing one of these contraptions as a child and being utterly confused even then. I asked my dad, “Why don’t people just take all the newspapers?” He said something about honesty and how most people only need one copy. From my now-jaded perspective, I can understand that it was probably cheaper to have the newspaper vending machine than to pay someone to hawk papers, just as it is now more cost-effective to abandon the device on roadsides across the country than to dispose of them.
While it is sad to behold forgotten times in their rusted forms, there is some comfort in the sentimental caress of history. The push and pull of technological development and obsolescence, guided by market forces, is a permanent fixture in our lives. Even when our good nature is exploited for profit by an object as simple as a newspaper vending machine, you can’t help but admire the simple act of taking just one copy off the top of the stack.
English novelist E.M. Forster saw such common decency as the essence and grace of the human race. In his resonant essay “What I Believe,” published on the eve of World War II, Forster wrote: “The man who is selling newspapers outside the Houses of Parliament can safely leave his papers to go for a drink, and his cap beside them: anyone who takes a paper is sure to drop a copper into the cap. But the men who are inside the Houses of Parliament — they can’t trust one another like that; still less can the government they compose trust other governments.”
Forster understood that there is a fundamental understanding in our immediate human interactions that forms the foundation of a peaceful society. He identified a certain type of person who moved through life exuding an essential morality. But this aspect of human nature is as elusive as it is effusive, making it difficult for authority to harness. Perhaps this is because, as Forster reminds us, the threat of force is the foundation of government, while such intuitive decency is an altruistic quality that is the antithesis of physical violence.
People have vastly different opinions on the state of the nation today, but in general there is undeniable tension on a national and global level. In times that are as divisive as ours, there is the frequent but politicized rallying cry for unity. To me, President Donald Trump’s call for “total allegiance to the United States of America” feels empty and frightening not just because of my dislike for our new leader but also because vapid nationalism is transferrable to any nation on earth, democracy or otherwise. It often holds authoritarian regimes together; without it Vladimir Putin would not have an 83 percent approval rating. One of the characteristics of democracies is a reflexive division and fragmentation, and we should revel in the contrarian clamor, however partisan.
When a good friend of mine recently told me that he voted for Trump, my first reaction was to say, “Why do we have such different political views?” The discussion that followed was not angry, nor was it particularly interesting. What is apparent is that friendship made it somewhat pleasant and even funny. Sadly, this is not how national discourse plays out. It is inevitably petty, simplistic and sometimes violent.
A protestor was shot in the days after the inauguration at the University of Washington, and there was a violent protest at the University of California, Berkeley last week. Whether we are entering a new era of violent discourse is not yet clear. If we are, the national debate will only become more simplistic and petty, with finger pointing and accusations of “They started it!” becoming even more common.
At the heart of these developments is how the debate over debate itself has developed. The argument over what divides free speech from hate speech has only intensified in the Trump era and it deserves a much longer discussion than I can give here.
In order to have the intellectual confrontations we crave, at least one group must abstain from physical force and be a champion of common decency. Otherwise, the communities we participate in will be strained to the point where calls for unquestioning American unity will sound appealing rather than terrifying.
Wednesday nights at Dartmouth are usually lively. In Greek houses across campus, affiliated women and men congregate for weekly bonding festivities, and crowds of students gather in living rooms to watch a cappella groups perform. The faint sound of music emanating from fraternity basements hangs over Webster Avenue as groups of students brave the Hanover winter nights. Collis Late Night, Domino’s Pizza and Everything But Anchovies see to it that the night doesn’t end until we’ve indulged.
Last week was different. On Wednesday night, Webster Avenue was silent enough to hear a pin drop in the snow. The Interfraternity Council had sent out a campus-wide email that all fraternities would be closed for the night. The crowds that would have gathered in fraternity basements instead gathered on Beta Alpha Omega fraternity’s lawn to commemorate the life of Adam Wright ’17, a Beta brother, a friend, a student, a member of our Dartmouth community.
At the College, where approximately 4,300 undergraduates inhabit a secluded rural campus quiety located in the middle of nowhere, each person carries a weighty presence. Each of us is closely tied to something: to an organization, a society, our Greek affiliation, our friends, our peers. If every person on Earth is separated by no more than six degrees, then every person on this campus is family.
There is a special sense of community at Dartmouth that manifests itself in every type of social situation. First-year trips exposes us to this odd, and arguably cultish, form of camaraderie. This five-day adventure with fellow freshmen welcomes us into Dartmouth’s family, where tutus, crazy hair colors and animal onesies reign.
Moreover, this sense of community is fluid enough to fit a diversity of circumstances. The flag burning demonstration on the Green led by Timothy Messen ’18 was a situation that had the potential to become inflammatory, yet it evolved into a dialogue where opposing sides could vocalize their opinions with the guarantee that the other side would listen and respond. GroupMes for Dartmouth organizations are conversational outlets for a healthy combination of crude comedy and honest debate. Workshops, panels and group discussions provide open forums to discuss difficult issues and controversial current events, while dinner conversations between friends provide a similar purpose in a more intimate setting.
The Dartmouth community is one that none of us can help but immerse ourselves in. No matter how involved we choose to be, we all contribute to this madness. It’s embedded in our language, exemplified by terms like “Foco,” “tails” and “flair.” We realize just how unusual our learned language is when we’re on the phone with our friends from home and have to translate from the Dartmouth dictionaries that we’ve catalogued in our brains. It’s embedded in our lifestyles, from our “work-hard-play-hard” mentality to our shared battle every fall to survive the freshman plague. We, as Dartmouth students, have allowed ourselves to become a part of a collective even as we still manage to maintain a high degree of individuality. We are not just running blind with the pack; we are engineering majors who talk about literature and art majors who know everything about politics. We choose to be a part of the pack for its ability to enrich our lives. We join organizations and make affiliations not for the promise of having friends and people to tag in Facebook photos, but for the conversations and events that make our Dartmouth experiences so life-changing. We immerse ourselves in the collective not just because it guarantees that we will have people to eat dinner with and parties to attend, but because we teach each other empathy and we offer unique narratives.
Dartmouth is an inherently communal place, but we are not so collectivized that we lose our individuality. We are a community that is capable of going beyond the surface level. In the wake of Wright’s passing, we saw our Dartmouth community bend under the weight. When grief hits, certain individuals will be affected more than others, but grief touches all parts of a community. The resiliency of this community is deeply rooted and unbreakable because each of us who chooses to be a part of the collective takes a share of the burden. It is far more bearable to be hit by disaster with others who can help carry some of the weight than it is to bear it alone.
Dartmouth is many things, but the beauty of Dartmouth transcends the flair that we wear, our beloved cultish rituals and the stateliness of Baker Tower. It comes from the dirt and the grit underneath the centuries-old buildings that our community has worked so hard to keep pristine. There is beauty in admitting that we’re not doing well in a place where there is such high expectation to do well — and there’s beauty in how we feel at the end of a long night as we kick off our shoes and get ready to sleep before another day.
In the same communal spaces that we socialize in on weekends, we also share our personal struggles, discuss controversial issues and gather together in solidarity to mourn the loss of a fellow member of our community. The fluidity of the Dartmouth community is what makes us unbreakable in times of distress. While no one is supposed to see the cracks and the peeling paint, this side of our community is the most honest and beautiful perspective that Dartmouth offers because it is a testament to our resiliency in a system that relentlessly pushes us.
The editorial board consists of the opinion staff, the opinion editor, both executive editors and the editor-in-chief.