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The Dartmouth
February 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Etymology of Sketchiness

I have two things I would like to share with everyone today. First, Dave Parker is definitely NOT the "dishroom dreamboat," despite what Eric Del Pozo may believe. As an employee in said dishroom, I feel comfortable telling you that the real dishroom dreamboat is none other than Justin "drunken blitzes are my media" Duda. All throughout last year he was constantly hounded by female Dartmouth Dining Services workers trying to seduce him and turn him to the dark side. He has been quoted saying, "The real reason I don't work in the dishroom anymore isn't because I forgot to fill out my paperwork like I told everyone; it's because I just had to get away from all those Duda-crazed women. I've gotta look out for number one, y'know?" Glad we got that settled.

Second, I want to discourse on my least favorite word at Dartmouth. That word is "sketchy." I think that if one word could be removed from the Dartmouth jargon, I would have to choose sketchy. I've been told the administration might choose the word "boot," but I can't figure out what they have against such useful and durable footwear.

But back to sketchy. I hate the word. It has too many implications for any one word to have. What can you call sketchy? Anything: men, women, dogs, fraternities, tests, dorms, other schools, statements, letters, blitzes (see Duda above). Basically any action, object or emotion can somehow be put into the context of being sketchy. And it is all negative. Sketchy cannot be used in a positive way. For example: "That guy's sketchy," "This is sketching me out," "I just took the sketchiest dump," or my personal favorite "Don't go to that house, it's sketchy." What I don't like about the word is that it has become so ingrained into the psyche of Dartmouth that it's mere mention is enough to turn people off of whatever they may have been considering, just because someone else has used that word in a statement to them.

How does something/someone become sketchy? The easiest answer is for someone really gossipy to hear that the sketchiness exists and soon the entire campus will know. No word lends itself to gossip better than sketchy, because you can say that something sucks without having to explain why. It's the one word that gets used to sum up the essence of whatever is being described into 7 letters. No explanation necessary. It's just sketchy.

Here are some examples of how to become sketchy: Engaging in rampant morally casual behavior with lots of people (on an individual basis or at the same time); joining an organization with a colorful reputation; not being from Long Island; eating in Westside (if you're a woman); hanging out with sketchy people; being overly flirtatious; using tabooed substances; not dressing the same as the other 4,000 white kids at Dartmouth; playing rugby; and last but not least, hanging out in basements. So that's not so bad, really. You can be sketchy for doing stuff against convention. The problem comes in when you become sketchy because someone who doesn't even know you or what you are really like says you are sketchy. All of those things can make you sketchy whether you actually do them or not. It's all about reputation. I hate that. People, places, and actions become infamous here by being dubbed with "sketchy."

How do you get out of being sketchy, if in fact you are not sketchy? You can't, or at least it's really hard. Once a reputation of sketchiness is established, it takes the help of brave souls at this school who are independent-minded adults and can determine for themselves the actual degree of sketchiness of the item in question. This process can take years.

Another reason I don't like the word sketchy is because I am not sketchy. In fact I am about as diametrically opposite from sketchy as a rugby player who isn't from Long Island, hangs out in basements, and belongs to an organization with a colorful reputation can be. I'm beginning to think that my lack of sketchiness actually inherently makes me sketchy, because being sketchy is such the norm here. I'm so unsketchy that girls walk up to me and make fun of me because I'm not. I swear to God. They go, "Hey, what's up sketchy Kevan!" Then we go home and shag.

On a serious note, I don't want to impose my opinion on those of you who may enjoy being "sketchy." Many people here thrive on it. I just don't like the means in which the sense of the word gets used at Dartmouth. Being different, or being weird, or being a jerk, or being anything that could get you the coveted adjective is all probably just fine with the person who is being called "sketchy." The fact that they are called that probably won't serve to change their actions and it definitely will not make them feel all that great. "Sketchy" tends to imply a moral judgment which a lot of times is undeserved and unwanted. I recall what my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Sharer used to say to all those kids who called me fat, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."