Frosty's Corner

by Sarah Frostenson | 11/18/10 11:00pm

*I am a Woman of Dartmouth.**##

But what does it mean to be a woman of Dartmouth? And why is being a woman of Dartmouth a thing that needs a definition?

I think the first time I became aware that it meant something to be a woman on this campus was when I was singing the Alma Mater with a group of friends and one of them turned to me and said, "Don't stomp on Lest the old traditions fail.'" I was taken aback.

"We all stomp on that line," I responded.

"No, we don't," he said, "People started stomping on that line when the Daughters of Dartmouth' line was added in the '80s. People began stomping to emphasize Lest the Old Traditions fail.' Others only started stomping to neutralize the move. Get it?"

"Oh," I said. Yeah, I got it.

Dartmouth did not become a co-educational institution until 1972 the last of the Ivies, no less. But admitting women was only half the story. It took 16 years to officially acknowledge women in the Alma Mater in 1988. And even longer almost 25 years to achieve gender parity in the student body. And now we're left facing the question of gender equity. Has it been reached?

That's a good question. And I don't really have a good answer.

Deductive reasoning would tell me if we are still asking the question, then no, it has not been reached. But it certainly has improved over the years. And I know that. I doubt any rational-thinking person would argue that Dartmouth hasn't made strides in working towards gender equality. But I do often wonder if it has made enough of them.

What is it about our campus that continues to promote a gender divide?

Is it our history? Back in 2007, Dartmouth celebrated the 35th anniversary of coeducation at Dartmouth, which was definitely a day of celebration for the Daughters of Dartmouth. Gone were the days of 1974 when fraternity boys chanted to win a keg of beer in the Greek Hums contest, singing: "With a knick-knack, paddy-whack / Send the bitches home, / Our cohogs go to bed alone." But here it is 2010, and one of the most pressing issues facing our campus is still sexual assault. So how much has really changed?

I'll ask again: What is it about our campus that continues to promote a gender divide?

Is it our lack of social spaces on campus that are not male-dominated or dare I say, Greek-dominated? There are 31 Greek Houses on this campus, of which 17 are fraternities, 11 are sororities, and three are co-ed, but there exists only one equivalent to a non-Greek, Greek House hangout One Wheelock.

And I know we've heard this all before and that gender isn't Greek, but I also know what a difference a female-dominated social space on this campus can make for women. Or even a co-ed space if you don't believe in fraternal associations based on gender. But of the 11 sororities on this campus, only three are local and therefore, eligible to host social events that are open to campus. Three.

Before coming to Dartmouth, I didn't realize what it meant to be a feminist. I didn't know it actually meant something to be a Woman of Dartmouth. And I'm not so sure if I hadn't gone to Dartmouth I would have ever realized that. Prior to Dartmouth, I never had to fight for something because of my sex. I had never been objectified because of my sex. And I had never been typecast as a certain kind of woman because of my affiliations.

Ultimately, I have found Dartmouth brands women. We all brand each other to some degree, yes. But the way in which this campus judges and stereotypes women is is largely responsible for the continuation of the present gender divide. It's not enough to be just a woman at Dartmouth. You have to be a certain kind of woman Lest the Old Traditions Fail.

You cannot help but be a feminist on this campus if you are female. It comes with the territory.