Dartmouth's Homecoming festivities top other Ivies'

by Maura Henninger | 10/31/97 6:00am

As the end of October rolls around, Dartmouth students prepare for the big Homecoming celebration with great anticipation. Homecoming is such a grand event for both alumni and undergraduates, one would think our fellow Ivy League schools would have comparably huge events. This is simply not the case.

The Game

"Hey guys, do we have a Homecoming?" responded a Harvard senior to the question of whether Harvard has any weekend comparable to the College's Homecoming.

This statement is representative of most of the Ivy League schools' lack of a tradition which compares to the grandeur of Homecoming at Dartmouth.

For Harvard and Yale Universities, the closest thing to the College's Homecoming is the Harvard-Yale football game.

But, according to most Harvard students, whether the game is home or away, there are no parades or ceremonies to mark the event.

"In the grand scheme of Harvard life, it doesn't mean much other than a bunch of drunk alumni in the parking lot," said Harvard senior Andy Green.

Another student added, "Every weekend is a Homecoming for alumni."

This year, however, according to Mark Lindeman of Yale's Sigma Chi fraternity, Harvard will be coming en masse down to Yale for the big game, which will be played the weekend before Thanksgiving.

At Yale, the residential colleges mark the event with some traditional low key debauchery. Many alumni return to campus for barbecues, while the undergraduate organizations host keg parties.

Sigma Chi honors the occasion by inviting all its alumni back to Mory's, a famous drinking hole, for a "toasting session" at which alumni and undergraduates drink a certain concoction out of big silver cups. When the cups are drained, there is a "finishing ceremony."

At Yale, the Harvard-Yale game is also an opportunity for parents to visit their sons and daughters.

According to Lindeman, many parents do not attend the official parents' weekend in October in favor of the Harvard-Yale weekend.

The rivalry between the two schools is captured by the long tradition of back and forth chanting at the game.

One of Yale's favorites is "School on Monday" which taunts Harvard for having to attend classes on the following Monday while Yale does not.

Another chant usually involves where the two schools place in the college rankings which appear annually in U.S. News and World Report.

New Traditions, Old Traditions

While Harvard and Yale have had their traditional big game weekend for many years, Brown University is only this year starting a new tradition which resembles a Homecoming.

Last year, Brown's Key Club, an academic society, held a dance along with a few other events for the entire undergraduate community. It was not the smashing success they had hoped it would be.

This year, the alumni got involved in making the weekend a bigger and better event -- in effect, a Homecoming.

Jasmine Waddell, Brown's student body president, said, "In a sense, we're in the process of creating what will hopefully be a lasting tradition."

The weekend will kick off on Thursday, November 6 with a special night for seniors. All day Friday, students will take part in an all-campus barbecue featuring several campus bands. Also on Friday night, a tri-level party with a jazz lounge will be held in the student center.

On Saturday, the athletic games will be the center of events. In the evening, the Key Club will hold a party.

Many alumni will be on hand for the events. One of the special focuses of the weekend is the return of many of Brown's Olympic athletes who will be celebrated at a brunch Sunday morning.

The festivities have been a year in the making. According to Waddell, creating this sort of tradition is difficult because "Brown is not a high spirit kind of school."

"Our goal is to create lots of different sorts of opportunities for people, whether they be alumni or students, to come together and have a good time," she said.

While Brown is just starting off a Homecoming-type tradition, Columbia University continued its annual rites of Homecoming last weekend with a unique event. In 1947, a team called the Alliance of 1947 had an amazing victory over a previously undefeated Army team.

This year, at the 50th anniversary of the defeat, the members of the team returned to campus. Columbia marked the occasion by dedicating a new locker room for the football team.

Fraternities as well as the alumni celebrated Homecoming, and other sports teams such as the men's and women's soccer teams received as much attention as the football team.

We play football at Homecoming?

At Cornell University, Homecoming centers around whatever football game occurs. But the students do not go out to support the football game as much, said one Cornell student.

"It's just another and better excuse to drink and get stoned," said the student.

Cornell, with the second largest fraternity system in the country, holds a few parties Homecoming weekend but nothing very organized. From the student side of things, it's not an especially unusual weekend.

The focus is on alumni, who return to campus to attend receptions, lectures and award ceremonies. This year, Cornell will dedicate a new athletic building. In the spring, a larger event is held for alumni.

For Princeton University, it's impossible to have a Homecoming this year because their football stadium is in the process of being rebuilt and all games are played away. Nonetheless, Princeton does not have a Homecoming tradition.

Alumni return to campus in February for Alumni Day, as well as in late May for reunions before graduation.

Undergraduates hold an afternoon of lawn parties in the fall, as well as several formal events at eating clubs in the spring. But there is no event that connects both alumni and undergraduates.