Freshmen find party options limited
At a recent room party in Massachusetts Row, a group of '99s and two prospective members of the Class of 2000 contemplated freshman social options over Everything But Anchovies pizza and a bottle of whiskey they had stolen from a fraternity.
Parties such as this one are not uncommon around campus, and are especially popular among freshmen, who are prohibited from attending Coed Fraternity Sorority events during their freshman Fall term.
In 1991, the College banned common sources of alcohol -- specifically kegs -- in all residence halls. Most students thought the regulation would lead to the end of the so-called "dorm party."
But as evidenced by the many parties hosted and attended by '99s in residence halls all across campus this term, the dorm party is still alive and well.
According to recent report issued by the College Health Service, 97 percent of Dartmouth students say the campus culture encourages students to drink.
But while alcohol is definitely a major component of most freshman dormitory parties, the general consensus among students at these parties is there is no great pressure to drink.
Dean of Freshmen Peter Goldsmith said he thinks drinking among freshmen is on the decline.
Goldsmith said his impression is there have been fewer alcohol violations involving freshmen this term.
"They seem to be conducting themselves sensibly in every aspect of their lives," he said.
The dorm party scene
The alcohol at freshman dorm parties is generally either bought by upperclassmen or purchased with fake identification, and marijuana is not very prevalent, according to the '99s at the Mass Row Party.
All of the students at the party asked not to be identified, as they were consuming alcohol and under the legal drinking age.
The students said there are both advantages and disadvantages to freshman dorm parties.
One clear advantage of room parties is the cleaner surroundings. "Frats can be really disgusting," Elizabeth '99 said.
"I need to get a special pair of frat shoes," she said.
Dan '99 said going to a fraternity to drink is more cost-effective than drinking at a dorm party, because "the alcohol is not necessarily better at dorm parties ... and you have to pay for it."
Despite the Greek system's attempt to prohibit freshmen from attending CFS events at which alcohol is present, many '99s "get started" at a dorm party, and then circumvent the Freshman Visitation Policy and go to a fraternity or sorority party later in the evening, according to students at the party.
The '99s at the Mass Row party said they have not had much trouble getting into Greek houses this fall.
"It's easy to get into frats if you have connections," Austin '99 said. "And where there are windows, freshmen will get in."
Dan added, "It's definitely easier for women."
Elizabeth said sneaking into fraternity parties is fun and easy to do. "Sneaking into frats is kind of fun, actually," she said. "Most 'shmen don't usually have to put in a big effort to get in."
Part of the logic behind the Freshman Exclusion Policy is to encourage freshmen to bond with other freshmen and create social bonds outside of the Greek system.
But the '99s at the party disagreed that banning freshmen from fraternities during their Fall term helped them develop any other social options.
"If someone would let me know what the other social options are, it would be great," Austin said.
Alex, a prospective student member of the Class of 2000, said "It doesn't seem like there's anything else to do."
Other '99s disagree with this assessment of freshmen social life, and said there are many social options at the College, but they still revolve around partying and alcohol consumption.
"The social scene is much better than in high school," Elizabeth said. "There are bigger parties."
All the students agreed more social options need to be created, but College-sponsored activities are not viewed as successful alternatives to the Greek system.
"If it's organized by the College, it generally sucks," said Dan '99.
In addition, student-created activities are frequently not as successful as they are intended to be.
Goldsmith said some members of the Freshman Council were planning a dance party for the Friday of Homecoming Weekend, but were voted down by other members of the council who did not want to place themselves in competition with the fraternity parties that night.
"That suggests that even when students attempt to structure alternate means of socializing, they can be thwarted by their peers," Goldsmith said.
Dr. Jack Turco, the director of the College Health Service, said, "We tend to see a higher number of freshmen [admitted to Dick's House]."
Turco attributed this number to the fact that freshmen are generally less experienced drinkers than upperclassmen, and because students tend to drink less abusively as they get older.