Crossing Greek Lines Off Campus

by John Strayer | 11/11/94 6:00am

Foreign Study Programs and Language Study Abroad programs serve a variety of functions both for students and the College. Yet one of the most interesting functions goes largely unnotice: off-campus programs help to preserve the social structure of Dartmouth.

At first glance it might seem odd that insight into Dartmouth culture could be found in the British Isles. But a new perspective is found upon observing Dartmouth students relating to each other outside their native environment.

An amazing thing happens. Students who have been isolated from one another by the fraternity and sorority system find themselves crossing lines and treating each other like human beings.

What's more, these students discover not only fellow human beings, but also find that they enjoy each others' company. Upon returning to the College each of us will continue to cross lines and maintain our friendships.

While all this might seem to pressure the social structure of Dartmouth to change, in fact it has quite the opposite effect.

The reason for this seemingly paradoxical effect is that off-campus programs act as a vent. They serve to release frustration that would otherwise build into action.

Students realize, at least sub-conciously, that their connections to other students are in many ways determined by highly structured social mores. Yet in a foreign country these students break those barriers and create valuble and lasting friendships.

The exact level of success in this area is crucial to maintain the social structure of Dartmouth. If too many friendships were made students would become dissatified with a system that seems to judge those friendships as strange.

If not enough lines were crossed students looking to make those connections would turn their dissatisfation into action.

But FSPs and LSAs provide just the right amount to satiate us into the mistaken belief that one really can be friends with anyone at Dartmouth. The real shame is that that truly is a mistaken belief.

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