Tag, We're "It"

by Caleb Ballou | 1/29/08 2:17am

Applications to Dartmouth are up 11 percent this year!

Crazily enough, I've decided to do a very small amount of research to investigate this statistic, primarily because I have to write about something or other, and sorority rush inspires me even less. In the course of my exhaustive research, I came across the fact that this 11-point increase actually represents the fourth highest percentage increase of applicants for any college in America.

Unless I am mistaken, this implies that interest in Dartmouth is...increasing? And drastically! I don't think The Dartmouth's characteristically vague statement that "increase in application volume was not as drastic as that of some of the College's peer institutions" ("Class of 2012 Applications Increase by 11 Percent," Jan. 22) quite does justice to the gravity of this fact.

For the most part, I use this column as an opportunity to promote hate and dissent among the Dartmouth undergraduate population. But this week, dear reader, is special. Inspired by this apparent outpouring of affection for Dartmouth from fools across the country, I have decided to put my creativity and optimism to the test and to address the question of why, in fact, our school has become such a hotspot.

The most prominent explanation, of course, is the international attention generously bestowed by the writers of Superbad: "The movie probably accounted for about 5 percent of the increase," attested Caleb Ballou '08.

Still, Superbad wasn't the only prominent publicity Dartmouth enjoyed in 2007 -- apparently there was some sort of "trustee" thing as well. I'm not clear on the details, but the issue led to several pieces in the New York Times and I vaguely recall deleting an email from President Wright on the subject.

Wright's hilarious propaganda newsletters aside, there is something comforting in Dartmouth's apparent tendency to immerse itself in controversies.

Specifically, it is the comfort of not having to worry about embroiling myself in controversies because plenty of other students and alums are happy to do so on my behalf. The way I see it, Dartmouth is great because half of the student body loves to get really outraged and involved in campus debates, leaving the other half free to revel in apathy without a nagging sense of moral obligation or decorum.

Basically, it's a lot like that episode of South Park when they describe America's appeal in terms of its necessarily divided politics. In one camp are the flag-waving, war-mongering rednecks who can't conceive of a single perspective beyond their own.

The other camp consists of bleeding-heart, hippie liberals who would probably lose our country to the French.

The combination of the two, however, amounts to a surprisingly effective system in which our beloved U-S-of-A is free to incite conflict across the globe. Meanwhile, American citizens are not nearly as universally hated by the rest of the world as they should be because of a vague international conception that we really hate our government, too.

A somewhat similar system has proven tolerably effective at Dartmouth. On one hand, we have those kids who show up at Dartmouth Ends Hunger for a reason other than free dinner -- probably the same kids who attend floor meetings. On the other hand lies (literally) that kid who has never heard of Alpha Xi Delta and will drift through their entire Dartmouth experience blissfully unaware of conflict. Is one perspective any more or less valid than the other? I know I think so, but that's not the point.

Dartmouth hangs in a delicate, student-created balance: Without the activism and passion of a very important portion of our population, our school could never maintain its image as a "serious" institution; without the disinterested laziness of another portion, we'd turn into some brutal, actually serious institution -- either Brown or the University of Chicago, depending on how many drugs we kept doing.

Right now, according to the high school class of 2008, Dartmouth (like America -- f*ck yeah) has something special. We have "it."

Let's not let "it" slip from our wonderfully conflicted grasp.