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The Dartmouth
February 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth Etiquette

Etuqyette. Dartmouth seems to have its own set of behaviors that are deemed socially acceptable. By the time you graduate, you cannot help but to have mastered some of the finer details of these Dartmouth social formalities ...

Situation #1: Walking across the Green, you see someone you vaguely know walking towards you and you feel obliged to acknowledge his presence. At what point should you greet him?

C Says: Well, this is a tough one. Usually, I find it to be awkward to make eye contact with the person I am approaching before we are at least four feet apart. At any point before this distance, it is questionable whether it is really the person you think it is, and even if it is, whether they recognize you. Also, Dartmouth students are often so caught up in their own thoughts that they are completely oblivious to their surroundings, and I wouldn't want to risk making a blatant gesture of salutation only to have it be rebuffed, especially if other people are watching.

P Says: I don't necessarily agree, C. I often find that people here forget how a simple thoughtful acknowledgment can make a big difference in how you feel. Why all the formalities? If you see someone you know, why pretend that you are distracted by other things until the point where it would be beyond rude not to say anything? Personally, I begin the process of acknowledgment right away. A small, discreet wave from across the Green, a smile at the half-way point, and a nod with a "Hi!" when I get up close. This method seems to be the most friendly and has worked almost 100 percent of the time. If for any reason, the recipient of these gestures is not who you thought it was, then don't look at it as an embarrassing faux pas, but rather, as an opportunity to make a new friend. And if he does recognize you but still does not return your greeting, that's okay, I think you're still cool.

Situation #2: Homeplate. 6:30. The peak of dinnertime madness. There are many potentially uncomfortable predicaments ...

C Says: I hate paying for my meal. Not because my salad and gardenburger come to $13.45, but rather, because some people (and you know who you are) refuse to be polite enough to slide your tray over so I can rest my tray down while I'm waiting for you to weigh your frozen yogurt, fruit salad and cottage cheese. If each person would only take a second to perform this simple act of courtesy, we could all profit, and our dining experience would be greatly improved. Not only would everyone's biceps feel better, but the check-out process would be expedited because you could take out your ID while next in line to pay, instead of scrambling to find it at the last minute when the pressure is really on and everyone expects you to perform.

P Says: C, you're so right. But what irks me even more is the inevitable dilemma of what to do if you're the first of your friends to get done paying. Do you wait by the condiment bar for the rest of your party to arrive so that you may all partake in the decision of choosing which table to dine at? Or do you take it upon yourself to walk down the treacherous, crowded isle alone, because let's face it, it looks pretty dumb for you to pretend to get ketchup for four hours. But then this raises the problem of how many times it's appropriate to pace back and forth alone searching in vain for an empty table, because this too, puts you in a vulnerable situation. Once again you take the risk of looking rather pathetic. Personally I have tried both methods and have yet to be satisfied with either.

Situation #3: The intricacies of BlitzMail. The power of the smiley face and "dot dot dot" (...).

C Says: It took me a while to fine-tune my BlitzMail etiquette, but let me tell you, it finally paid off when I mastered the smiley face. At first when I was young and naive, I never even considered using the smiley face in my blitzes. I am sarcastic by nature and thus, so were my blitzes. However, people tended to take my messages the wrong way and not respond. One day, as I was staring at my empty in-box, P said to me, "Why not try a smiley face?" And so I did, and from then on my cyber social life has been amazing. I am now so adroit at effectively utilizing this tiny symbol, that I have begun to expand my use of the standard smiley face and now include a variety of forms, each with its own connotation. My personal favorites have become : ) and =) and ; ) to mention only a few.

P Says: I'm glad my advice paid off but my knowledge extends beyond smiley faces. I have dived into the realm of the mysterious "dot dot dot." What does it mean? It varies in meaning from individual to individual, but the beauty of it is that its meaning is transient. No one can ever really know the true significance of this ambiguous symbol, but I will attempt to disclose what I do know. If you want a certain special someone to blitz you back, but you do not have the audacity or reason to ask a direct question, use that "dot dot dot" after your last statement. Thus the conversation remains unfinished and the door is left open for the recipient of your blitz to respond. For example, when you want to let someone know that you are interested in seeing them that evening, but you don't want to imply that you have absolutely nothing else to do except go to the stacks, and you do not want to directly ask them to do something, you might say, "I'm thinking of taking it easy and hanging out tonight..." And don't be surprised if you don't make that trip to Baker after all.

So P and C say, if you are still learning the rules of Dartmouth etiquette, don't fret. It's a long process that involves much practice and patience. However, if you happen to be one of the lucky few who understand this delicate art, you're ahead of the game. : )