Looking Into Last Chances

by Katherine Cline and Nikhita Hingorani | 5/23/18 2:30am

Dartmouth is a school full of traditions and these traditions are what bind our community tightly together. Passionate alumni often revisit campus to share their tales of triumph, trial and tribulation. For some, a significant aspect of their “Dartmouth Experience” includes falling in love. (It seems like every week students can be found either running around fires, jumping in freezing ponds, pulling all-nighters to go to Lou’s Bakery or even confessing their unrequited crushes on Last Chances.)

We often hear students complaining about the difficulties of finding a significant other at Dartmouth. Ten week terms, punctuated by long, irregular breaks and off-terms, make it difficult for a relationship to fully develop. Classes go by quickly, midterms pile up and extracurricular activities eat up any free time. With the quarter system, there is simply no time to waste — especially with love. The recourse? Last Chances.

Last Chances is a website that opens up every spring term to anyone with a Dartmouth email address. Originally, it was designed for departing seniors as a “last chance” to confess their feelings to a classmate before graduation. The rules of the game are simple. Students anonymously enter names into a text box, which is linked to the Dartmouth name directory. They are notified of the number of people crushing on them; however, the crush remains anonymous unless the crush is mutual: “a match.”

As the management of the site is passed down year to year, the link to Last Chances changes with it. As soon as the site opens, a flurry of blitzes are sent out passing down the link. The entire premise of the website is based on anonymity, which includes the identity of the current, past and future executors of Last Chances.

Revant Ranjan ’21 speaks from the perspective of a student unfamiliar with Last Chances until this term. Acknowledging his limited exposure to the website, Ranjan ’21 states that his experience with Last Chances as a freshman differs from that of the typical upperclassman.

“I think people in my class have used it to match with other freshmen, more so than to meet seniors. I think of it like an ‘amongst your own grade’ kind of thing. Whatever it is, [Last Chances] ends up being pretty funny,” Ranjan said.

It is safe to say that this sentiment about the website is echoed by most freshmen at Dartmouth. To be frank, Last Chances can be intimidating. The ’21s have known each other for less than a year and they still have three more years left to spend with their classmates. The prospect of matching with “the one” can be thrilling, but the fear of vulnerability, to some, can easily deter them from taking that chance. For freshmen willing to be vulnerable, they must then contend with the possibility of staying at Dartmouth and constantly having to face their failed “chance.”

However, for upperclassmen, this story may be slightly different. The threat of seeing a failed match holds less weight due to the students’ shrinking time on campus.

Some students may recognize the platform’s pitfalls, such as its ability to perpetuate Dartmouth’s infamous hookup culture, but ultimately may still appreciate its intention.

Bianca Ribi ’18 is one such student. This is the first year she has “actively participated in Last Chances.” She has realized how different the user experience is as a senior compared to as a freshman and, similarly, how useful Last Chances could be to her and her fellow classmates.

“Being a senior, you definitely have more exposure. More people know who you are. This is actually my last chance to do it. Years before, if there was an upperclassman I was crushing on, then it was the last chance I had to get with them. This year, I thought it was something I should do.”

When asked about her matching pursuits, Ribi notes that she has been both the person crushing and the person crushed on. She also believes that students should put in the names of students they actually have feelings for on Last Chances rather than fooling their friends.

“I haven’t figured out who’s crushing on me. I’ve put in the people who I genuinely like and would want to match with, but I’m not one of those people who puts in a ton of names just for the sake of doing it. I’m also not one to put in my friends because there’s no point to that.”

Though some may find it controversial, Last Chances was likely created with good intentions. For most on Dartmouth’s campus, it continues to fulfill its purpose for students as just another one of Dartmouth’s many quirks.

“I don’t have a positive or negative perception [of Last Chances]. I think that some people may get a little bit carried away with it, but I also think that the nature of it is fun and uniting,” Ribi said.