Alex Got In Trouble: The battle of Hanover

by Alex Howe | 11/30/07 2:58am

No one saw it coming.

The fall of 2007 was routine: certain alumni got their ("this-College-was-once-free-of-") panties in a bunch, prompting certain other alumni to leap instantly down to their level and slap right back, only a little harder. Then there were questions of art. Baker, that towering Yankee icon, found himself in unwelcome Asian clutches and forbidden dignity and haircut. You couldn't call the unpretty result a "war," but rather "unpoliced action" on the part of the administration, followed by futile student protest.

Even so, the hair fell with the season's last leaves.

So it was that the autumn of Soulja Boy supermanned that snow all over the Green, burying itself under great climactic drifts of its own making.

Then the winter of 2008, and war. We can't be blamed for failing to anticipate revolution. After all, our shores hadn't seen a proper uprising in some time. Like the Communist Manifesto, Dartmouth's 1999 Student Life Initiative regarded itself a Salamis of liberalism, an epic reversal, this time not the beginning but the end of Greek history as we knew it. And like Marxism, the SLI is now itself history, sound and fury echoing ever more faintly in Dartmouth's institutional memory. Banks and fraternities march on holding hands, social and financial capital interbreeding unimpeded. (The endpoint of which is a Polo-uniformed singularity of personal identity from which nothing worthwhile can escape. Rush SAE.)

No one's sure where it started, but theories abound. I heard a faulty laptop battery caught fire in East Wheelock and everyone panicked, but I also heard that a stressed senior girl sprained her wrist, went to Dick's House, received a diagnosis of "really pregnant," and punched the nurse out with her good arm. I heard the last hit of a pong game was disputed, the losers flipped the table, and chaos ensued.

However it started, it spread quickly. The residents of Webster Avenue emptied into the street. A number of them were confronting people in the crowd at random and screaming, "Think you can out-drink me? Is that what this is about? Do you have any idea who I am? Do you? Please -- please tell me. Am I ... cool? To you? Or your friends?"

Those who weren't KDEs, on the other hand, kept to themselves and followed the crowd towards the center of campus.

All along the way, seniors leapt from windows and joined them.Across campus, the Hop erupted in a battle between athletes and artists. Like Israel and Palestine, they'd long been forced to share the same small territory.

A dozen artists soon set up a barricade at the entrance to the Hood, throwing paint and brandishing musical instruments at every enemy.

Near the Blitz terminal, a scraggly guy in his sister's jeans tapped a linebacker on the shoulder.

"Hey, I watched your game."


"Yeah. Nice sack!"

With that, the artist kicked the athlete in the crotch with surprising force. The victim vomited and toppled to the floor, and a dozen artists scattered to avoid the impact. Then one of them approached with a camera, snapping shots of the puke from inches away at strange angles and murmuring about symbolism.

The football team huddled up and tried to plan a blitz of the barricade. "Run towards them" was proposed, misunderstood, and forgotten. The plan became "Find food," and the artists survived.

Before long, most of campus had gravitated to the Green. Some groups, however, were notably absent.

Phi Delts remained on their front lawn, all facing their house with their arms crossed. Every few seconds, one or another of them looked furtively back over his shoulder, saw that no one was paying attention, and stamped his foot. Occasionally they yelled things. "We don't want to see what's going on. We don't want you guys to come over. We don't! Having friends is new school! Doesn't -- doesn't anyone care how much we don't care?"

The Dartmouth Review had retreated to Sig Nu, where they huddled on the roof in blackface, having tickle fights and crying. The Review's hysterics were interrupted when a caravan of cars stopped in front.

The driver of the first car got out and yelled, "Hey!"

A Reviewer yelled back, "Who are you?"

"We're gay."

"And you're leaving? Too scared to fight, you fairies?"

"No, we just figured this would be a good time to get out of here. The problem is, there aren't that many of us, and Hanover doesn't have a downtown. We're out of options. There are only so many -- combinations."

"Why would we care? You're already an abomination in the eyes of -- "

"How many of you are gay?"

Half the Review raised their hands. The cars drove away, and the Review cried harder.

Back on the Green, some students brawled, others argued, and still others stood back and marveled at how awesome it all looked.

Parkhurst was surrounded by a barricade of S&S cars. No one could get close, but Frisbee archers tossed an occasional salvo.

Suddenly a pack of frantic students came sprinting from the library. These were the Adderallers. For 30 seconds they ran around asking everyone what was going on and who was winning and who the bad guys were, none of which anyone knew. Sprinting away, they chased Advanced Transit buses around the Green until their hearts stopped.

It was at this point that I was coldcocked by a Theta Delt -- which, everyone agreed, I deserved.

Everything else was related to me later.

I heard students ended up in two camps: one composed of real students, the other of recruited athletes, kids with their last names on campus buildings and boarding-schoolers. They fought briefly before deciding to join forces against a common enemy. They marched to Hanover High and, sure enough, found a classroom packed floor to ceiling with stolen North Faces.

Their hostilities resolved, the mass of students walked back towards campus.

Then, I'm told, they saw him: Robert Haines standing in the center of the Green wearing only a Speedo and body armor. When the students came near, he pointed at the Baker Tower bells and screamed "Hit it!"

The opening chords of "Don't Stop Believin'" began.

Haines turned back to the students, his arms open like John Brown, and made a speech. Accounts of its content vary, but everyone told me it ended with "Hang out, Dartmouth."

Haines proceeded to lead the largest-ever circuit.

After they recovered from their hangovers the next morning, no one at Dartmouth ever forgot to care about each other ever again. They lived happily ever after.

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