Madly in love
The stereotypes surrounding relationships at Dartmouth seem contradictory. On the one hand, hookup culture seems pervasive: “dance floor makeouts” and no-strings-attached relationships are seen as commonplace and normal. On the other hand, there is a stereotype that Dartmouth students marry Dartmouth students, implying a much more serious level of commitment. So, how do we reconcile these stereotypes? Has hookup culture replaced the dating culture that bred Dartmouth marriages of the past? Or merely complemented it? To get some insight into the relationship culture of the past, I interviewed a Dartmouth alumnus — Carolyn Chapman ’93 — who met her husband, Pete Chapman ’91, at Dartmouth.
How did you meet at Dartmouth?
CC: I am somewhat embarrassed to say that we met in a frat basement. Specifically, at Beta.
How did your relationship develop from there?
CC: Pete asked a friend who he knew from football and who was in my grade if he could introduce us, which he did. So, we owe our marriage to George Neos [’93] in a big way! The funny thing was, while I was watching a game from the stands I had told a friend of mine that I thought “number 50” was cute. So, I do think that there is something to chemistry, even from afar.
After I met Pete we ended up seeing each other for a few weekends in a row. Beta was having parties because the football team was winning. He told me he would ask me out but would ask me another time – not in a frat basement.
He came to my dorm room a few times to ask me, but I was always in the library. He wanted to ask me in person so he didn’t leave a message. But, it turns out another football player – quite a good one by the way, Shon Page [’91] – lived right across the hall from me. When I came home late that night he tipped me off: that Pete Chapman has been around a few times looking for you!
Was dating very commonplace when you attended Dartmouth? Did you have many friends who were dating, as well?
CC: Yes, and yes.
The unique structure of the D-plan means that many Dartmouth students have to do long-distance relationships through various off-terms and abroad terms. Did you ever encounter this?
CC: Yes. Pete graduated two years before me but would visit on weekends.
Was it difficult to stay in touch after Pete graduated?
CC: Not really, but we did have long distance. I looked forward to our time together.
How long after you graduated Dartmouth did you get married?
CC: Pretty soon! I graduated ’93. We were engaged December ’93 and married July ’95.
Did you have any other friends that met their spouses at Dartmouth? Are you still friends with them?
CC: Yes – two of my good friends are both married to Dartmouth guys that they dated senior year.
Only time will tell the role that hookup culture might play in long-term relationships (and even marriages) for Dartmouth students. It seems that the Dartmouth culture that Chapman experienced was more relationship-oriented, with lots of her friends dating, and a few even getting married after graduation.
Nonetheless, Chapman’s story – meeting a football player who had an eye on her in the basement of Beta, dating long-distance after graduation – seems applicable to the Dartmouth we know today. Perhaps, then, things have not changed all that dramatically between the Dartmouth of the past and the Dartmouth of today. Perhaps the no-strings-attached style that seems omnipresent on campus is not as commonplace as we think it is.
When you spend too much time at Theta Delta Chi past 12 a.m., it is easy to forget that there are plenty of students at Dartmouth who are crazy for each other: Dartmouth students who are dating, Dartmouth students who are engaged (or already married, even) and Dartmouth students who might one day meet their future husband in Beta without the slightest inkling.