Seniors are leaving in midst of Initiative debate

by Andrew Allport | 6/13/99 5:00am

Being a Dartmouth College graduate has meant many things in the College's history. Familiar stereotypes, such as the hard-drinking all-males' school, or the exhausted "Animal House" comparison have been part of an evolving image of Dartmouth and her sons and daughters.

And when the College changes, especially the kind of changes planned in the Trustees' Initiative, the image of a graduate of the College will change as well. What stereotypes attached to future graduates will look like under the proposed changes is still a mystery, and what current seniors feel about the impending changes to the College is mixed.

Donald Conrad '99, who said he had "a great four years," has no qualms about the direction of the College. The Initiative "will be pretty positive," he said, though he added he had his own regrets over not joining a fraternity.

"I think each generation needs its own identity," Conrad said. "It's disappointing people are still hanging on to the 'Animal House' image."

The image that the College will carry with it in the future is a question that many seniors struggled to answer - though they all agreed it would be different.

Ardua Harris '99, who said four years of Dartmouth's social scene made her want more options for people who aren't "into the fraternity system," said she didn't expect the Greek traditions to disappear. Although she believed the College will be a different place, she also said that "different isn't all bad."

Harris' opinion that the college will inevitably change for the better seems reflected in many seniors, who know that when they return to Hanover things will be different, possibly drastically so. As they reminisce over their experiences as the last class of the 20th century, changes in the College's social scene will make them sound as antiquated as some pre-coeducation graduates who still marvel at the sight of females on campus.

Of course, it might be said that the example of coeducation simply illustrates the ongoing changes at Dartmouth that neither stop nor end with the class of 1999.

"Given time," said senior Sarah Anderson, "it'll change anyway." Anderson said she wasn't happy about the reformation of the campus social scene, but that the Trustees' announcement hasn't in any way tainted the way she will look back on her four years.

Considering the fact that seniors, along with the rest of campus, have only dealt with the famous "Five Principles" since their announcement in February, the Initiative has overshadowed only a small segment of their time here, and certainly few will give much thought to it after they leave. It is for the underclassmen, and for future classes that seniors said they sympathize with.

Jeremy Hartman '99, who called the planned changes "silly," said he would warn those interested in Dartmouth to "double-check" and make sure they know what they're getting into. Hartman said that his fraternity was instrumental in broadening his social options and introduced him to many people he otherwise would not have met, and that taking options like that away would be detrimental to the campus.

Conrad, who ran track and called that "his social outlet" in lieu of a Greek atmosphere, remains mostly optimistic about the College on the Hill and her traditions.

"This self-examination, I think will turn out to be good for the College as a whole," he said, though doubts remain about things like ongoing campus expansion and construction projects. "I see a lot of libraries in Dartmouth's future," he predicted.

As for other seniors, a prevalent attitude is that things will work themselves out - and no matter the course the College takes, it is no longer their pressing responsibility to oversee it.

"Right now," said Anderson, who is preparing for a move to Princeton, NJ, "I'm focused more on personal change rather than college change." As the end of college draws near for them, seniors find themselves with a blizzard of loose ends to tie up, from tuition and DASH bills to finding a place in "the real world."