A Culture of Apathy
Dinesh D'Souza '83 spoke on campus recently. Does anybody remember? Just a few weeks ago there was a big controversy as Kappa Chi Kappa fraternity changed their name to Kappa Kappa Kappa. Remember that?
Technically you probably do remember, but the reality is that these events have blown over and moved out of the consciousness of most students.
Apathy is the rule, and Dartmouth students are very good at following the rules. But just what are the rules of this game we call the College on the Hill?
It is important here to introduce the distinction between rules and laws. Obviously, Dartmouth students do not play by the laws. But I'm not talking about laws, I'm talking about the rules.
Some of the rules are superficial, but pervasive. Take the dress code. I think it is listed in the Student Handbook in a section entitled "Student Dress and Garb:"
"Noting the importance of student dress appropriate to the Principles of Dartmouth Community, and realizing that common clothes foster a sense of greater community, especially during social hours, the following dress is required for male and female undergraduates:
"Men shall be attired in a white baseball cap (sufficiently worn in), a plaid flannel shirt and khaki pants. Women shall wear a skirt or slacks and a tight ribbed top with a low neckline. Variation is allowed for women of lesser endowments."
Recently I had occasion to realize just how seriously some students take this rule. At about 3:00 a.m. on the Sunday of Homecoming, I was walking past Alpha Delta fraternity. Four gentlemen were on their way out of that establishment. Each had paid strict attention to the above code, but one was missing his hat.
I was slightly tipsy myself, or perhaps I would not have been so rude as to point out the shortcomings of a fellow student, but I remarked out loud, "Hey dude, you're not wearing a hat."
Caught in this violation, I am afraid our uncovered comrade got a little defensive, "F...k you, you f...ing faggot!" was his response. As I continued on my way he added, "Yeah, run away you bitch ass whore."
Thankfully I am not a belligerent drunk, or the situation might have come to fisticuffs. As it turned out, I was left in peace to figure out whether I was a faggot or a whore. Maybe I'm both. I still haven't figured out if that would imply that I am a lesbian.
Many of the rules are less ubiquitous but still strictly followed. Some of these class specific rules include the 'shmob mentality of 'shmen, the obnoxious cocky requirement for sophomores, and all the regulations of corporate recruiting and grad school applications that must be obeyed by seniors.
All of these specific rules are secondary to the one master rule -- apathy. You must follow all the specific rules, but you must never act like you care. Never reveal that you stressed out trying to decide between the red ribbed shirt and the black ribbed shirt. When speaking of plans for after graduation, always use an off-hand manner. For example, "Yeah, I'm doing corporate recruiting, but I think I'll try law school after a few years."
Never let 'em see you sweat. And never, ever, get all concerned and uppity about an "issue." Issues are for freaks. Gender issues are for femminazis, race issues are for militant blacks and sex issues are for fags. I'm not sure which issues are reserved for whores.
So if you are contemplating something controversial, don't even give it a second thought. Hey, change your name to KKK, or tell people that racism is not a problem. I guarantee you that you will get away with it.
Sure, some of the freaks will get upset, but hey, they're freaks. Does anyone listen to them when they whine? Fifteen students attended a discussion about homophobia on this campus this past Sunday. Fifteen students.
Does this upset you? If it does, don't tell anyone, they'll think you are a freak. Maybe you are. I know I am.