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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth State of Mind

Well, friends and neighbors, I've just returned from a hearty weekend spent milling about in the frozen flatlands of upstate New York at a little out-of-the-way liberal arts funhouse known as Hamilton College, and my cynicism has been absolutely sapped. Having briefly experienced the misery and tedium of a place other than Dartmouth, my sturm und drang has been positively squelched. I'm a new man.

You think Dartmouth lacks social options? Consider the sad case of Hamilton, a school with one-third the student body of Dartmouth, situated in a town that makes Hanover look like Rio de Janeiro. On Saturday night the poor Hamiltonians had only three social events among which to choose. All three of these parties were sponsored by the College, and were held in College facilities large enough to accommodate everyone without suffering from overcrowding. One party served beer, one hard liquor, though all three also served soda and coffee. The biggest party featured a live band, another had a D.J. and the third was a more low-key event where sober people could socialize without the oppressive atmosphere of, say, a fraternity basement. Hamilton is a small campus, so students could easily visit all three parties, all of which were open until 4 a.m. Interestingly enough, however, these parties, although sponsored by the College, were partially funded by Hamilton's Inter-Society Council, a body that represents their Greek houses in aggregate.

Imagine that ... Greek houses working with the administration to create social options for the student body -- what a nightmare.

Of course, I should mention that Hamilton's Greek houses no longer actually have houses; rather, they must petition the administration for use of College facilities when they want to throw parties. By having their parties in College buildings rather than in noisome basements, the Greek houses are no longer able to create that sense of predatory territoriality that we've all come to know and love.

It's a shame, really.

Hamilton also has an on-campus bar, where beers cost only $1.50 apiece. I spent some time at "The Little Pub," and not one drunken brawl occurred, despite many students' imbibing of more than three drinks. Furthermore, the bar actually had a smoking section, and no one in the non-smoking section appeared to be tormented by the mildly wafting secondhand smoke. The bar had one room with tables and chairs and another with sofas; the first room blasted music while the second was fairly quiet, save for the hum of relaxed conversation.

Well, if I didn't appreciate the Lone Pine Tavern before, I certainly do now.

Hamilton also has an on-campus coffeehouse, with well-attended open-mike sessions and a varied selection of caffeinated beverages, a lot like Rosey Jeke's or the Dirt Cowboy Cafe, except, of course, that it's on campus. The coffeehouse, like the bar, had a smoking section, and by some miracle of fate war did not break out.

Hamilton's Dining Services is all-you-can-eat buffet style, but this buffet included a grill, a massive salad bar, something called the "Bread Basket" (which included everything from bagels to cakes to pumpernickel), various vegetarian dishes, a dessert bar, fruits, coffee, ten different kinds of soda, seven different kinds of juice, etc. Instead of ordering the food and waiting several minutes for its preparation, students just served themselves, since all of the food was already made.

You can imagine my disgust.

I spoke to a number of Hamilton students, and they seemed to be for the most part well-meaning, intelligent, motivated people with diverse interests and backgrounds, whose most glaring flaw was their palpable lack of Ivy League arrogance.

I'm sorry if this column has gotten a little too sentimental about Dartmouth; it's just that with Thanksgiving approaching, many of us have forgotten how truly fortunate we are to be at this school. I know that I've griped about this bloated, egotistical, sit-on-its-laurels-and-twist institution before, and I see now that I've been unfair -- maybe it just took a weekend in Hamilton Hell to bring me to this epiphany.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a holiday quickly approaching, I think we should all take a moment to consider how very much we've gained by being Dartmouth students. Dartmouth College is more than a $100,000 reputation, more than a breeding ground for corporate whores, more than a festering pit of pigheaded alcoholics. Don't forget, we've got the Skiway! We've got Eleazar's Dungeon and all its wonders! We've got the Math and Social Sciences major!