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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Hanover or Squatter's Paradise?

It may seem strange that there are people unaffiliated with the College who regularly use Dartmouth as a home. I'm talking about the people you're sure have nothing to do with Dartmouth academics and never will the people who you see and think, "She doesn't even go here!"

Hanover is too isolated for randos across the country to think about swooping in and occupying beds in our residence halls, but it would be logical for a passerby to look for a warm place to spend the night. We don't have any vagabonds roaming around like some of our Ivy counterparts (cough, Penn), and it would be weird for strangers to be roaming our campus all the time. Not to mention difficult. They would have to trek through the mountains and be completely noticeable with all their supplies on their backs and walking sticks in their hands. They would have to be like, through-hikers. Oh wait...

Dartmouth acts as a well-used motel for hikers trying to complete the Appalachian Trail. Although the Office of Residential Life doesn't allow anyone other than students to live in residence halls, coed fraternities and undergraduate societies tend to overlook this policy.

According to Greek Letter Organizations and Societies policy, any non-member of an undergraduate organization must have completed at least four terms at Dartmouth or one term in the case of transfer students, to be eligible to live in the respective organization's housing. Through-hikers and honorary members are not allowed to stay in residence.

Coed Council President and Phi tau coed fraternity member Blaine Ponto '14 described Phi Tau as a haven for through-hikers. Since members of the fraternity frequently ask hikers in town to stay in the house, Phi Tau has a specific code of rules for hosting through-hikers. Typically, these guests will sleep in the basement, and there is a new hiker in residence almost every night in the summer.

"People in my house are friendly," Ponto said. "Some weeks there are through-hikers every night during the summer. It's cool you get to hear tons of stories."

Not all undergraduate societies share the same view as Phi Tau. Amarna Undergraduate Society does not sustain any relationship with through-hikers, limiting the boarders to occasional sleepovers with graduate students.

"I don't think [through-hikers] do anything negative," Karolina Krelinova '14, Amarna's house manager, said. "It's smart for the College to eliminate foreign elements. They pose a potential hazard."

Despite the aversion to through-hikers, Amarna is registered on Couch Surfing, an online community offering accommodation to travelers around the world. The society has not hosted a traveler as of yet, and it would be subject to discussion among the members and boarders if the occasion arose.

Director of Safety and Security and College Proctor Harry Kinne said that Safety and Security approaches through-hikers as if they were any other visitor to the College.

"90 to 98 percent of the cases are not a problem," Kinne said. "Sometimes they throw up a tent on campus property. They're not allowed to do that."

It seems like it actually causes fewer problems to host these through-hikers than to have them wandering aimlessly and setting up tents on the Green. They generally tend to stick to hiking and swarming the DOC offices in Robo.

We may never know how many residents unaffiliated with the College are present at any given time due to the brevity of their stay, disputed numbers of "honorary members," differing policies for welcoming these guests and the administrative policy that drives these visits off the record. Panarchy Undergraduate Society and Alpha Theta coed fraternity also have a history of hosting through-hikers, but the Tabard coed fraternity is rumored to host a smaller number of live-ins (though we're suspicious about the EBAs guy).

As far as this fluctuating population goes, hikers are commonly referred to as respectful and interesting. Interviewed students generally found their culture safe and friendly.

"They're very grateful, and they like to buy us beer," Ponto said.

At this moment it is very possible, and likely, that people unaffiliated with the College are staying overnight with students. If you're getting ideas, a word of warning: As cute and fuzzy they may be, it's still probably not a good idea for you to bring back strangers to your dorm.