Things We Wish We Could Steal From Other Schools

by Victoria Nelsen | 5/1/14 6:03pm

During my college search, I focused on the more “frivolous” details of every school, much to my parents’ dismay. While they were attracted to the academic rigor of every institution, I cared more about the quality of the food, the size of the dorm rooms and each school’s minor quirks. Little known fact: I did not actually come to Dartmouth for its premier undergraduate teaching and small class sizes. I actually just yearned to run around a giant, fossil-fuel-emitting bonfire 117 times (or 17, but who’s counting?).

In remembrance of my college search, I have compiled a list of everything that I think Dartmouth should steal from other schools.

The Primal Scream (Northwestern University)

Exam week is a universally stressful phenomenon across American college campuses. Unlike many of its peer institutions, Northwestern has found a productive way to deal with the stress.

Every quarter at 9 p.m. on the Sunday before finals, Northwestern’s undergraduates join together in a collective scream. No matter where they are on campus, students release their stress in a loud yell to prepare for the most challenging week of the term.

It should be noted that this shared liberation of stress follows a week-long reading period. No comment.

A Rivalry (Yale and Harvard)

My high school liked to pretend that we had a rivalry with our neighboring town, but we haven’t beaten them in football since the ’90s. In the decades before I was born, the two high schools would prank one another in the week leading up to the game, but these traditions slowly disappeared with the loss of any true athletic talent at my school.

This disappointing absence of true rivalry seems to have followed me to college. Many students might get pumped about competitions against Harvard, but let’s be honest: Harvard students have their eyes on one school only — Yale — and on only one game — the Game.

I want the excitement of rivalries and all the traditions that come with them. Not only do they promote fun and friendly competition, but they also help unite the school around a common enemy.

Sure, there may be rivalries within individual sports — Puck Frinceton ­— but Dartmouth has no consistent rival across the board. It doesn’t seem like it would be too challenging to kick-start a rivalry at Dartmouth. Would it be weird if we just chose a random Ivy and serenaded them into being our rivals, in the style of a high school prom invite? I don’t think so.

Cereal Wall (Bates College)

I am not going to take this opportunity to complain about Dartmouth Dining Services. In terms of college dining options, I think we are pretty lucky. Not many institutions have a make-your-own smoothie option.

Still, there is one area where we really have fallen behind, and that is our cereal. When I toured Bates, their top-ranked campus dining — specifically, their cereal — stood out to me. My tour guide told me of a wall beyond my wildest, sweetest dreams, which displayed every possible option of cereal.

I was sold. Unfortunately, my parents decided that cereal was not enough of a reason to choose a school, especially one in the coldest part of the continental United States. Alas, I have since been stuck with the miniscule offerings of FoCo cereal, left only dreaming of the mythical cereal wall and its countless options. And the Cap’n Crunch. FoCo could really use some Cap’n Crunch.

A Mascot (Every Other School)

This one is really self-explanatory, and I don’t think I’m alone in my desire for a mascot. Some of my favorites from other schools include the Webster University Gorloks, the University of California at Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and the Delta State University Fighting Okra. Having a mascot would give the Dartmouth community a central figure to rally behind in our sporting events, plus it would act as a symbol for the College. My recommendation for a mascot is the Lone Pine. Some of you may point to the induction of Keggy as our official mascot, but I’m advocating for a classier option that would not necessarily decrease the number of applications Dartmouth receives.

Ski-Beach Day (Pomona College)

Many Dartmouth students would gladly steal the always-sunny weather from our California counterparts. I, however, actually enjoy the diversity of Hanover’s seasons. Still, there is one California school that I’m jealous of: Pomona manages to have all the seasons in just one day.

On Ski-Beach Day, busloads of Pomona students go on an unusual adventure. Their journey first takes them to a nearby ski resort where students spend the morning on the slopes. After lunch, the same buses take students to Newport Beach, where they enjoy the sand, sun and a seaside cookout. Who could want more than summer and winter in the same day?

Wait, just kidding. I totally just remembered that a couple of weeks ago, it started snowing while I was wearing sandals and shorts. Maybe Dartmouth actually does have its own less than satisfactory version of this tradition.

The Cannon (Tufts University)

Dartmouth offers its students an array of options to express themselves — student art exhibits, musical and theatre groups, independent studies in the art department, student-hosted radio stations. However, as a first-year student and someone who is very outside of the artistic community, I am quite unaware of how students go about doing this. While I attend shows and see exhibits, I don’t know how to express myself.

Tufts has an outlet for this need, and it comes in the form of a cannon. For decades, students have been able to spray this cannon however they please, whether with a message to the community or an advertisement for a group on campus. There is one catch — any student who wishes to adorn the cannon must do so in the dark of the night.

As one of the only traditions recognized by the entire student body, decorating the cannon has become a rite of passage for Tufts students. Since the 1970s, the cannon has been sandblasted twice to remove the layers of paint that cover the historic artifact.

Assassins (Duke University)

A large group of classmates in my senior year of high school came together to “kill” one another through the game Assassins. The rules were simple. We received a target, and we aimed to draw a five-inch-long black line across his or her neck. If successful, we received the name of our next target from our now dead classmate. It was everyone for herself, and seniors wielded ominous black markers for weeks.

Duke has taken this game to a whole new level. With a webpage-long list of rules and specific lingo dedicated to the game, Assassins has formed a major presence on Duke’s campus. The dedication to such a creative outlet sounds like an ideal way to relieve stress, and I admire its leaders for prioritizing this activity.

I can already see this game gaining popularity at Dartmouth. The Tower Room is really the perfect place for a mysterious “death.” Find me if you’re ready to play.