Noted author visits College to gather info.

by Katherine Michelis | 10/22/04 5:00am

In the next few weeks, students can expect to see a new face in classes, fraternity basements and sporting events. Sean Michael Green has arrived, and he plans to find out exactly what it means to be a Dartmouth College student.

Until Nov. 20, Green, an author, consultant and speaker on higher education, the military and management, will collect information for the Dartmouth chapter of a book he plans to write about life in the Ivy League. He anticipates the book to be "somewhere between a narrative nonfiction and a travelogue and very funny."

The focus of the book will be to disprove many of the misconceptions surrounding the Ivy League, specifically the idea that students at Ivy League colleges neglect their social lives and direct all of their energies into studying.

"Kids at Ivy League schools are just like kids at other schools -- only they are much more accomplished and engaged in what's happening in the world around them," Green said.

Green is relying on the students here to provide him with the material for his book. He aims at engaging students in conversations about their classes so that he can attend the most interesting ones.

"I'll ask people what the best classes are so that I can go to them and what the worst are so that I can avoid them," Green said.

While Green welcomes invitations to parties or other social events, his favored research technique is shadowing students. Green prefers spending an entire day with a student rather than observing for only a few hours.

"I want a sense of how people live, so I want to see what happens between the classes and the parties," Green said.

This past Wednesday, Green ventured to Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity with a group of freshmen. Once in the basement, several pledges, concerned that he was an undercover cop, suspiciously approached him. After showing them his business card, Green found himself in a lengthy conversation with two pledges about their love for Dartmouth.

According to Green, most students were happy to speak with him once they learned the reason for his presence.

"I'm okay with him, as long as he isn't going to write anything bad," said Morgan Brown '05, president of Sig Ep.

Green named Dartmouth as his favorite Ivy and emphasized that the purpose of his research is not to expose any individual or group on campus. "I'm not out looking for dirt or any scandalous stories or anything, I just want an honest sense of what it is to be an undergraduate at Dartmouth," said Green.

In order to truly understand the Dartmouth experience, Green has resisted efforts by older members of the Dartmouth community to influence his stay.

"A lot of times alumni, faculty members and grad students will try to contact me and suggest places that I should go, but I only want to know what undergraduates think, and I go wherever they send me," Green said.

Green appreciates the encouragement he has received from the Dartmouth administration, although he does not expect it to play an active role in his research.

"It's really not that I expect help from the administration. It's just that I want the administration to know what I'm doing and to understand that I'm protecting privacy of all students, and so far they've been really nice," Green said.