Woodland: The Frat Ban is Actually Good

The frat ban promotes freshmen class bonding.

by Ophelia Woodland | 11/14/19 2:15am

I’m a first-year, and I love the “frat ban.” Well, maybe I don’t love it, but I certainly understand where it’s coming from. 

Barring freshmen from open Greek spaces for the first six weeks of fall term is honestly one of the best things Dartmouth does for us. There are pros and cons — as with all policies — but I would say the frat ban is a net positive. It encourages class unification, friendship and gives freshmen a safer space to test their limits, in alcohol and otherwise. I’ve been here for only nine weeks, but I’ve been a freshman for all of them, so I feel confident that I’m mostly qualified to offer an opinion on this. 

The frat ban requires freshmen to bond with their class before they seek out relationships with upperclassmen. This isn’t to say that upperclassman friends aren’t amazing — they are. They can show you the cleanest bathrooms on campus and teach you how to send a flitz. They’re excellent mentors. The sad truth, though, is that eventually they’re going to leave you soon enough. Only your own class will be around to remember the fall of 2019 and the days of yore. These memories are important and only remain alive when relived through oral tradition and mutual reminiscence. 

Freshmen friends are vital. Recognizing this, the College insists on sophomore rush and makes great efforts to encourage class bonding during Orientation Week (class-wide assemblies, s’mores parties, class crafting activities, etc.). In Chef Hanlon’s kitchen, the frat ban is simply the cherry on top, the final garnish, the finishing touch for unifying the incoming class. I’m thinking of writing a thank you note. 

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve complained about the frat ban pretty much every night I’ve been out this year. I know it’s good for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun — like going to the dentist. It can be annoying! 

The frat ban necessitates six long weeks of dorm parties, and you’re only able to fit so many bodies in a dorm before things start to get sweaty — and that’s if you can find a dorm party to begin with. There’s no pong, no dancefloor and the music is coming out of some tinny bluetooth speaker. This is not what I would call the perfect party experience. However, dorm parties certainly force you to meet other freshmen. After all, how can you not when you’re somehow touching three of them at once? Getting to know members of your own class is essential for a happy Dartmouth experience.

Dorm parties also make frat parties safer. They naturally lead freshmen to find “Going-Out Buddies”: friends who look out for you and won’t leave the party without you at their side. These buddies become especially important when navigating a basement for the first time; it’s dark, loud, crowded and every surface is mysteriously wet. That can be disorienting — and somewhat disconcerting — no matter your level of intoxication. It’s nice to have a hand to hold and someone to walk home with. 

  Then, there is the alcohol issue. To put it gracefully, some of us really didn’t know how to handle ourselves at the beginning of the year. I’ve overheard several rather comedic Friday night snippets in my time here, including gems like, “How do you get vomit out of a suit?” and “If I drink a gallon of water, will that cancel out a hangover, like PEMDAS?” 

Lucky for us, we’ve had the tame environment of freshman dorm parties to learn about the joys and pitfalls of moderate to extreme intoxication. The stakes are much lower in a dorm full of friends than in the anonymity of a crowded frat basement; it is very easy to spot and assist a struggling classmate in the harsh fluorescent lighting of first floor Mid-Fay. The number of fellow freshmen I have coaxed into drinking a glass of water — or convinced to maybe slow down a bit with the Black Cherry White Claw — is staggering. 

his feeling of camaraderie in our shared tomfoolery has created a safe, judgment-free environment for us naive ’23s to make absolute clowns of ourselves and figure out what our limits truly are. 

But, after six long weeks of throwing up, poor decision-making, learning, growing, finding friends and throwing up some more, the Class of 2023 has emerged from our frat ban chrysalis, and we are ready to join the ranks of the rest of campus. We’ll see you in the basement.