As students start preparing to leave Hanover for leave terms and winter break, those students Dartmouth accepted when Hurricane Katrina devastated Gulf Coast-area schools are getting ready to say goodbye to Dartmouth and move back to their home institutions permanently.
Just before Fall term began, the College admitted 32 students from colleges and universities that had to suspend operations during the fall semester. The students were admitted with the understanding that they would return to their home institutions when classes resumed.
"The hardest thing was to come here and be like, should I even bother trying to make friends and being outgoing?" said Damion Mathis, who would have been a freshman at Tulane.
Mathis, who went to a strict boarding school and lived on his own for a year after graduation, said he had trouble finding the much-touted diversity in Dartmouth's undergraduates.
"The people that go to Tulane are a little more from my type of background," he said.
Mathis also found living off-campus difficult but said he would consider transferring to Dartmouth if he doesn't like Tulane.
"The fact is that I have experienced Dartmouth, so I know what to expect. And my schedule here is great," he said, citing the fact that he only has class three days a week.
Two juniors who had already experienced Tulane were more positive about their times at Dartmouth than was Mathis, who has yet to attend the New Orleans university.
"I have to say, I did not expect to be as sad about leaving Dartmouth as I am," Krista Saubert said. "At first I was like, 'I just want to get back to Tulane,' but now I'm saying, 'If I could stay for the year that would be really cool.'"
Saubert is not considering transferring, however, because she is scheduled to graduate from Tulane a semester early and is required to enroll there this spring.
Saubert, whose father is a Dartmouth alumnus, became involved in a theatrical production soon after arriving at Dartmouth and said that her role in the play has significantly contributed to her positive experience at the College.
"The play has really helped me find my little niche at Dartmouth," she said.
While Saubert says she doesn't frequent Greek houses, one displaced student has found his niche in the fraternity system.
Aaron Gleiberman moved into Bones Gate fraternity after the organization volunteered the space for a Gulf Coast-area student.
"I attribute a lot of my success at Dartmouth to BG," he said. "I think I would have been nowhere near as happy [living somewhere else]."
The fraternity is apparently glad to have taken Gleiberman on for the term, as its current BlitzMail nickname is "Unofficial Party Spot of the Refugees." Members of the fraternity have taken to calling Gleiberman "'Fugee."
While he admits that the social life at Dartmouth is more active than he had originally thought, Gleiberman does not plan to apply as a transfer student.
"I think about it, but the fact of the matter is that Tulane's my home," he said.
Still, students could not help but become integrated into Dartmouth life, even if they are leaving in two weeks.
"It's definitely to the point where last night it was really bothering me because my blitz notification wasn't working, so I had to open blitz every five minutes," Saubert said. "I've definitely caught the blitz bug."
And Gleiberman, the frat boy of the group, truly proved himself a member of the clan when, in response to a query about his beer pong skills, replied, "I'm nasty."