A 'fratastic' Psi U, Hiltz goes beyond the basement

by Rebekah Rombom | 11/22/04 6:00am

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of articles profiling students who at first glance embody various Dartmouth stereotypes. In this piece, The Dartmouth examines the "super-sweet frat guy."

Will Hiltz '05 "woke up for good" at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon after a night of playing pong at Psi Upsilon fraternity. As an active member and social chair at Psi U, Hiltz is certainly no stranger to the fraternity's West Wheelock Street basement, but there is more to Hiltz than pong and the fraternity's famous porchcrawler beverages.

The Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. native says that even though he spent high school surrounded by other male students at his elite New England boarding school, he didn't feel compelled to become involved in Dartmouth's fraternity scene.

"I'm sure that most of my classmates from Hotchkiss are in Greek organizations on campus, but I didn't feel myself being marked out for fraternity life just because of boarding school," he said.

In fact, Hiltz was hesitant to join a fraternity at all. He ultimately chose Psi U in large part because a fellow member of the squash team was already a member.

Hiltz said he enjoys his fraternity, but is wary of allowing it to eclipse other areas of his life.

"I like it because I spend so much of my time over there, but I become uneasy sometimes about the way that some people can let it change their lives a lot and change who they are," he said.

A member of the squash team for much of his Dartmouth career, Hiltz recently quit playing competitively. With all of his newfound free time, Hiltz joined Outdoor Leadership Experience, a community service group that brings children from the Mascoma Valley school district to the outdoor areas surrounding the College. Last Friday night, Hiltz spent the evening at Hinman Cabin with a group of seventh and eighth graders involved in the program.

Hiltz enjoys the time he spends outdoors, citing his passion for nature as one of the main reasons he chose to attend Dartmouth. He is a member of the Dartmouth Outing Club and served as a trip leader for the last two years.

"Will volunteered to lead a DOC trip leader training overnight with me even though the forecast was for heavy rain and it was on a Saturday night -- I don't know what I would have done without him," friend Sara Schnitzer '05 said.

Schnitzer also described Hiltz as a skilled chef who treats his friends to steak and lobster dinners. Fellow Psi U member Rawson Daniel '05 also attested to Hiltz's discerning palate. As juniors, he and Hiltz made weekly trips to the Taco Bell in West Lebanon.

"We'd each buy seven tacos and seven bean burritos and then see who could consume them faster. Usually the food was too warm to eat quickly, but somehow Will would always finish his food before me," Daniel said.

In addition to his affinity for the outdoors and his culinary expertise, Hiltz has one particularly impressive skill, Schnitzer said.

"Will consistently finishes The New York Times crossword, even late in the week," she said.

He has all but wallpapered a space near the stairs in his off-campus house with completed puzzles.

A history major with a minor in classics, Hiltz possesses a list of interests that deviates from that of the stereotypical frat boy. His pink whale-embroidered pants hardly invite images of garbage pails overflowing with cans of stale Keystone.

"Being in a frat is definitely part of Will's identity, but there's a lot more there," Schnitzer said.