The President Speaks

by Janos Marton | 8/26/03 5:00am

Nothing can adequately describe the madness of college.

The odyssey that brought me to where I am now more or less went like: Show up to strange people singing and dancing, have a ridiculously cool DOC trip, almost get mono from eating out of a giant Ben and Jerry's container with my trippees. Join the rugby team, see triple vision during my first game, almost get killed running around the bonfire backwards, meet President Wright wearing a yellow jumpsuit, but he seems unfazed. Join a punk band and play dorm golf all afternoon. Discover Panarchy by accident and move in my freshman spring: the indie-rock scene is thumping, the Great Gatsby parties incredible; we light fireworks to celebrate Jim Jeffords' defection. Back to New York freshman summer -- still tight with all my high school friends, which is reassuring.

Go on a massive road trip that takes me halfway around the country -- see lots of colleges and reaffirm that I made the right choice with Dartmouth. Being in New York City for Sept. 11, obviously has a huge impact on me; I go back to Hanover for sophomore fall and join the campus radicals. Trek from one protest to another, shouting slogans and wearing red. Write articles about how much I hate The Man. Realize I genuinely do hate John Ashcroft more than anyone else alive, possibly dead, and am quoted in the New York Times ("I think he might be the most loathed man in America," said Janos Marton, 20, a Dartmouth student). Join a fraternity (Chi Gamma Espilon) on a complete whim and have the best time ever. Meet great people who love to rage and have insane adventures.

Run for Student Body President and win in a five-way race against two Establishment candidates, a smooth-talking dancer, and a space-cadet poet. Don't remember anything that happened sophomore summer except Tubestock, which was awesome. Spend the fall working for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, which lost the race for governor, senator and congressmen. Roll back to Dartmouth where I become fraternity president -- far more stressful than college applications and probably takes five years off my life. Resign. Run for Student Body President again. Beat the hell out of a football player who turns out to be a real good guy. Green Key weekend is the most fun four days imaginable, and cannot possibly be described until it is experienced. Cater for old Dartmouth alums who tell me I should join the marines. Try to join the marines but my blood pressure is too high. Collect myself in Ocean City, Maryland.Read "Dharma Bums" on the beach and talk Zen to drunken high-schoolers. Come back to Dartmouth to find answers and instead find out that I have two days to write this article for you.

All of that was a more convoluted way of saying your options here are limitless. Along the way some of you will inevitably take classes you're not interested in, procrastinate too late into the night, try to maintain long distance relationships, try out for the crew team, rave that frats are the best thing ever or rant that they should be abolished. Making these routine mistakes is forgivable, though; the real Dartmouth experience should feel like four years of slashing through uncharted wilderness with only a vague sense of direction. Your calling will come eventually. Some people claim I've found mine.

Most of you will come to know me in the context of being the Student Body President. It is the function that I commit most of my time to when I'm not hanging out or studying. The Student Assembly is the student advocacy group on campus; almost everything it does concerns empowering students, who may be teenagers when they get here, but are 21 and 22 year-old adults when they leave. The Student Assembly is not for everyone, but what is? It is extremely rewarding to know that you're doing the right thing when you work on something like creating a more reasonable alcohol policy or keeping budget cuts from targeting student needs. Just being on the Assembly will give you tremendous insight into how this school operates, which should be relevant to every student here. I've found that the research, outreach and personal interacting that come with working on the Assembly are extremely useful life skills. So come check it out, at the very least.

I have only a few other recommendations to make -- the rest is up to you to figure out. First: don't steal bikes. Second: know that there's a place at Dartmouth for absolutely all of you, but some will just have to look harder than others. Third: while I'm sure that by now you've all watched "Animal House" multiple times to prepare for the rage-alcoholism of the next four years, you should also watch "Rules of Attraction" for a darker perspective into college life (I promise Dartmouth is not like "Rules of Attraction," but it's compelling nevertheless).

Dartmouth pride is very strong here, and there is much to love about this campus. I distinctly remember driving across the bridge that brings you into Hanover last September and realizing that Dartmouth was no longer simply my college, it was my home. I wish the same upon you. See you at orientation.

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