I Don't See No Key!

by Dan Rothfarb | 5/17/02 5:00am

When I think of Dartmouth, a number of things come to mind. Most memorable, however, are those moments that unite us all as a campus, those moments when we are brought together annually around our beloved bonfire, our snow sculpture and our Green ... Key. Wait a second, is that right?

I'm sure some of you out there are wondering, "What is Green Key?" I can assure you that I, as a 13th term senior, have no freaking clue. But what's most important is that it's tradition. You see, traditions are things that we must repeat in order to have any sense of school identity. Where a tradition comes from is not important; in fact, in order to be a good tradition, we can't even know where it originated.

Homecoming is an important tradition that began a long time ago. We don't remember who came home or why they ever left, but we commemorate it all the same. Winter Carnival was originally a celebration of beautiful wintry weather, a fabulous snow sculpture and fun outdoor activities that everyone could take part in. Sadly, none of those things exist anymore, but every February, Carnival comes around just the same. Then there's Tubestock, a tradition that has never been recognized by the Administration because its purpose is clear: to party on the river. That we cannot allow.

The College does, however, recognize Green Key. Ladies and gentlemen, don't be fooled by the moon bounce and other kiddie attractions they throw at us; Green Key is a bald-faced excuse for a weekend of drinking, partying, drinking and more drinking. And this is the thing I love about our Administration. They have given us a fake reason and a fake name for a weekend of senseless drunken debauchery, passing it off as tradition. It's like an evil conspiracy that's really benevolent.

What's really great about Green Key, however, is that it can be anything we make of it. Always remember: the best part of any tradition is being the one who starts it. In case you're short on ideas, here are a few of mine. First of all, nothing says fun in the sun like splashing into the cool Connecticut River from the beloved rope swing. No, wait, forget that one. Here's another favorite of mine: springtime means romance, and nothing says "I love you" like surprising your significant other by spending half an hour waiting for some random passerby to open the door to your lover's dorm, which you're locked out of because the key you are entrusted with only works in your own cluster. Too bad the new door locks will destroy this time-honored tradition by entrusting us all with the scary power of unlimited access to all the dorms on campus.

Another thing Green Key weekend affords us is the opportunity to marvel at some very simple aspects of nature, like warm weather, green grass and the pollination of beer. You may have found yourself asking, "Why does the grill line in Food Court smell like a frat all weekend long?" Well, my friends, that's pollination. You see, beer comes from kegs, which grow cute plastic pods known as "cups." These "cups" travel with the wind until they land on ping pong tables. These tables are dangerous places, and many young cups are knocked over, spilling their precious pollen (beer) onto the floor. From puddles on the floor, the pollen (beer) clings to the sneakers of the local wildlife, who spread the stuff unknowingly wherever they walk. Many of them walk to a nearby feeding hole, where they stand, waiting for their prey, such as wild cheesesteak and mozzarella sticks, and allowing the beer they are unwittingly carrying to drip onto the ground. Before long, the pollen fertilizes the ripe floor tiles and a fresh frat stink begins to germinate. Oddly enough, the floor around the salad bar never has the same stench.

Now, a lot has been said about drinking on this campus. Some think there is too much; some think there is not enough. Whatever we believe, we must be honest: drinking is something that many of us enjoy responsibly and even illegally. The College can continue to boast a dignified tradition in this weekend that is somehow vaguely related to the Green Key that is an honor society, but we all know better. As prestigious a school as we want to be, it's as much a part of Dartmouth's tradition to let loose and have fun once in a while. If you're in the library trying to learn something this weekend, then maybe you're missing a bigger lesson. What that lesson is, I can't tell you, because I'll be socked in, finishing my thesis.

Oh, one more thing. If you just need a little more on your plate to keep you busy this Green Key, here's a new potential tradition for you. I'm personally sponsoring an amateur photography contest. Bring me pictures of streakers. Best one gets a prize.