There's No Place Like Home

by Ester Cross | 8/8/13 10:00pm

by Nushy Golriz and Nushy Golriz / The Dartmouth

While the list goes on, laws more pertinent to the Dartmouth student regulate housing and nudity. A Hanover town ordinance sets the maximum occupancy limit to no more than three unrelated people in a dwelling. Landlords who rent out property with greater capacity register additional residents as "frequent overnight guests," a status possessed by a surprising amount of students. State laws regarding indecent exposure and lewdness make the Ledyard challenge an especially difficult endeavor for countless adventurous souls but isn't that part of the fun?

Despite these legal constraints, students experience far greater freedom than those at, for instance, the University of Alabama. This begs the question how would Dartmouth be different if it wasn't located in New Hampshire, or was a bit bigger? Comparing our beloved college to other universities sheds light on some of this hypothetical musing.

The drinking habits of students at the University of Alabama are regulated through a "hierarchy" of rules, senior Rebecca Hails said. At fraternity events, security officers stand guard and students must bring their own drinks, minimizing liability for affiliated members. In addition to university police, students have to watch out for both the Tuscaloosa city police and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, affectionately referred to as the ABC.

"It's very common for people to get arrested and receive minor in possession charges here," Hails said.

Students caught by the police or ABC are arrested and can also face adjudication through the university's citation process, which entails a judicial hearing and community service. Incurring three of these citations necessitates expulsion.

The "Strip," a row of late night bars and restaurants along University Drive, serves as a late night hot spot for students of legal age or those with fake IDs. Wednesdays and Thursdays in particular are considered week-day going out nights (hello Thirsty Thursday), so many students structure their schedules to avoid classes on Fridays, Hails said.

Those lucky Crimson Tide kids incessant three-day weekends during sophomore summer would be quite a blessing.

Alabama residents are also plagued by their share of interesting laws. For example, drivers cannot operate their vehicles when blindfolded, preferably not when blindfolded and fleeing the ABC. Additionally, when students are considering their getup for themed fraternity parties, they must consider an Alabama law prohibiting them from impersonating members of the clergy in public places. The idea of any sort of legal regulation imposed on our beloved flair is a frightening one, so let's take a moment to thank our forefathers for granting us with that liberty. Moment done.

Universities in cities also differ greatly from our Hanover-nestled campus. At DePaul University, with two of its campuses located in the heart of downtown Chicago, there are limited on-campus housing options. Students frequently move off campus between their freshman and sophomore years, transitioning from college community members to Chicago residents. Rising senior Sarah Rens moved into an apartment, got a job with the State Department and began taking night classes during her sophomore year.

"It is an immediate plunge into adulthood," Rens said. "My friends back home are always saying they're worried about starting a life, living alone and having a job, but for me, in a way, I am already doing that."

In contrast, many argue that the insularity of the College, the safety of campus and adjacent areas and the primarily Greek-based social scene stunts the development of Dartmouth students' social awareness and overall maturity.

For Rens, social life is centered on house parties hosted by friends all over Chicago. As most of her friends have jobs around town, another aspect of their social life involves accompanying each other to corporate events and other professional social affairs. Living in the nation's third-largest city, social life also centers around concerts, theater and bars, providing students more culture than that offered in Hanover.

Despite the perks of city living, there are some less forgiving policies regarding underage drinking. Without a centralized campus and campus security on every corner, students and their drinking habits are regulated by state and city laws. But don't worry, there's a loophole students enrolled in a culinary program on the side may taste alcohol if they are under 21. Of course! As evidenced by the more rigid drinking regulations at other schools, it's easy for us to take for granted the relatively lenient College policies that try to keep us out of trouble.

One of the criticisms that Dartmouth often receives, especially from its big-city cohorts, is the isolation of rural New Hampshire. Sebastian Villarereal-Levy '15, however, said he found a strong network around the country, making unexpected connections with alumni and students. While on previous family trips to Nantucket, Mass., this Texan did not know anyone on the island, he has recently met a lot of people connected with the College. Despite Dartmouth's remote location, maybe the insularity of the College fuels a cultish mentality, helping to facilitate widespread connections.

Villarreal-Levy said the lack of bars around campus leads students to stay in fraternity basements and focus too much on pong, often to the detriment of personal connections and relationships. The lack of variety in social outlets, coupled with the many constraints placed by the College on the types of venues used to host events, also limits social options. A less rural setting may not impose such limitations.

Still, the natural environment around Hanover offers its own unique college experience. Villarreal-Levy said he spent a weekend this summer in Rye, N.H., with 10 of his friends,

So for the hiker, the swimmer or the adventurer who jumps from ridges into cool New Hampshire waters, the rural state and all of its quaint laws might beat the perks of a bigger university in an urban setting. Whether you are just a small town girl or just a city boy, we can all recognize the beautifully symbiotic relationship between our college and the state in which it is embedded. Anywhere else just wouldn't feel right.