A Master Misinterpretation

by Phil Aubart | 8/5/08 2:05am

Surely by now everyone on campus has either heard of or taken part in the recent spat about the Masters tournament. For those of you who do not attend Dartmouth, or who live in the library, "Masters" is a pong tournament of the highest caliber, in which each Greek house selects teams to represent its membership in a larger competition. The event, a staple of sophomore summer, is held each year -- and likely will be forever more.

This summer, however, the College administration caught whiff of not only the tournament, but also its scheduled place and time. The involved administrators soon threatened to shut the planned tournament down.

In the wake of these threats to Masters survival, accusations were quickly thrown regarding the source of the leak. Some said administrators had established fake BlitzMail accounts to keep tabs on students. Perhaps, others suggested, there was a rat in the Class of 2010.

The most oft-repeated claim, however, was that College administrators learned of the tournament by reading Blitzes sent between students, thereby invading student privacy. The potential validity of this theory, which has been refuted by administrators, quickly became the subject of widespread debate, even gaining examination in a post by Jake Baron '10 on the student-run blog DartBlog.

I guess I've learned where conspiracy theories come from (the addled brains of paranoid and bored students).

Despite the popularity of these accusations, we must remember two things. Number one, the College and its administrators are not out to get us. Before you accuse me of an Obama-like flip-flop given my previous work on these pages, I'd like to say that, though administrators are not always on our side, the evidence shows that they are also not seeking to ruin all of our fun.

And, number two, the rapid spread of these allegations proves that nothing unites this campus quite like the defense of good old pong (Sorry, "rallying against hatred," AZD and Hip-Hop in the Hood).

Let's look at some basic truths about Dartmouth's administration. The College clearly has a liberal alcohol policy. They allow us to have parties, play pong and buy unlimited amounts of beer -- as long as it's in cans -- and all they ask in return is that when Safety and Security walks through a Greek house, those without wristbands lower their drinks. There are no breathalyzers or sobriety tests of any kind, and both President of the College James Wright and Dean of the College Tom Crady have said they favor lowering the drinking age.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The administration is also on the verge of giving us back our kegs -- in the name of environmentalism no less. And you wonder why conservative me supports the environment!

Dartmouth also does a pretty good job of keeping Hanover police out of our Greek houses and dorms. Did I mention that more than half of the people present at these alcoholic social events are often underage? If the College wanted to, it could seriously shut our drinking down. Arrest one or two Greek presidents and see how many organizations still host open parties.

The evidence, then, clearly doesn't suggest the College would be likely to go out of its way to shut down Masters.

Before you can take issue with College administrators' actions on this matter, then, you need to put yourself in their shoes. What would you do if you were a Dartmouth administrator and learned of the time and place of Masters? You'd be obligated, of course, to report any student activity that would violate College policy. Would you risk your job for kids half your age, allowing them to host an event that could pretty easily be rescheduled (not that it was, Dean Redman)?

Of course not. You would know that those same students would soon once again blame you for the College's ills (although the trustees and their undemocratic ways are not yet off the hook). In truth, administrators at Dartmouth try their hardest to turn a blind eye, but when we're careless and talk loosely in front of them, we can't expect them not to act.

My point in all of this is that we shouldn't be so quick to cry foul when members of the College administration do their jobs. After all, it is still illegal for most of us to drink, even if we feel we have the right to do so. Had the administration violated our privacy, we would have certainly had the right to raise serious concerns, but immediately racing to the wildest conclusion possible serves only to breed resentment between students and administrators.

And please, let's never, as Baron suggests in his post, ask an administrator to become consistent in what he allows and disallows. If that was the case, we'd never get away with anything.