Social Options Outside the City

by Tyler Newby | 2/9/94 6:00am

A pair of popular buzzwords on campus is "social options," used almost always in the same context as the new Collis Center and to criticize the Greek system. The basic argument usually associated is that there is nothing to do at Dartmouth. It's boring. Exciting as cardboard. "There's nothing to do," said one anonymous '97, quoted in the last issue of Bug, "and I don't consider drinking something to do."

There are things to do at and around a small college two hours from the nearest major city. The social alternatives argument implies rural New England lacks anything interesting to do. It seems like most people who continuously plead for social options are not truly observing the unique environment that surrounds them.

Those who criticize Dartmouth as boring are guilty of urban cultural elitism. To say rural New Hampshire is boring subtly implies that the natives of towns like Orford, Lyme and Caanan are culturally inferior, because they may not attend the opera, sip cappuccino while discussing the work of Beckett or shake their butts to Rave music each weekend. Does a social option have to be in the form of a techno dance club complete with loud thumping bass and flashing lights that sees virtually the same crowd every weekend? It seems that the critics of the Dartmouth social environment would be appeased only if Dartmouth relocated to Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles or any other major urban center. The true criticism that these people make is "There is nothing to do that I have done before."

One of the main reasons to come to Dartmouth is because of its location. Most of us have lived in a city before and have the rest of our lives to live in one again. Dartmouth's location is a social option in itself. It can allow us to become intimate with a part of the world that is unique unto itself. Dartmouth's society critics should be willing to explore the unique opportunities that rural New England offers before they can truly say "There is nothing to do."

I had dinner recently at a historic, whitewashed inn which stood regally atop a hill in Windsor, Vt. There was no thumping bass, no flashing lights. There was a warm fire that illuminated the turn of the century mansion with a soft flickering orange glow and a quiet view of Mount Ascutney's shadow looming in the distance.

True, not everyone in New England lives in 28 room mansions, but the dinner did afford me the pleasure of a new experience. I need not go into the other options our region offers. The outdoors alone could occupy all of your time. If the administration allowed first-year students to bring cars on campus, initial feelings of claustrophobia would not be as bad. But with or without a car, before complaining that there is nothing to do, be experimental and take advantage of our location.

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