Khan: We're the Worst

It’s time to do what’s best for our community.

by Osman Khan | 2/4/20 2:05am

Ask people at Dartmouth how they spend their time out of class. Specifically, ask them how they feel about the non-academic aspects of Dartmouth. You’ll hear a lot of responses. Some will tell you this school is no good anymore compared to its fabled glory days. Others might complain that the House system is ineffective and completely fails to compete with the Greek system. Then there are those who believe the administration hates the Greek system, coupled with the students who feel the administration’s policy toward Greek organizations is far too lenient. The particular gripes might differ, but the general sense of dissatisfaction remains.

If you have a problem with social life at Dartmouth, you’re in good company: It seems like everyone around here does. So, given all these problems, what do all of us opinionated crusaders that comprise the vaunted student body actually do about it? Based on the amount of change — or lack thereof — this school experiences, the answer is not a lot.

Don’t believe me? Let’s talk about the snow sculpture. It’s an over-95-year-old Dartmouth tradition that’s perfect fodder for the “my-great-grandfather-went-here” people who spit righteous flames about Homecoming’s current impotence. And what’s more, it also happens to be completely alternative to the Greek system, alcohol-free and safe — it’s also perfect for the “everything-mainstream-at-this-school-is-fratty-and-horrible” types. Despite the sculpture’s wide-ranging appeal, its deep historical roots and the bevy of incredible sculptures produced by Dartmouth students — including a fire-breathing dragon in 1969 and a Guinness World Record tallest snowman in 1987 — student interest in helping build the sculpture, at least from what I’ve seen, remains minimal.

Gone is the excitement around Winter Carnival, gone are the thousands of visitors and feature-length films, and gone is the sense of community that old alumni will tell you the Winter Carnival fostered in bygone years. At the risk of sounding like a worn-out “Lest the old traditions fail” article in the Dartmouth Review, I’m begging you to help change that. Let’s do something more than complaining for a change and actually promote the kind of community we want for the College. Building the snow sculpture is a great way to do that. 

It’s fun to help build something massive for your school with your own two hands. It’s exciting to actually be invested in Winter Carnival, rather than write it off as another night of drinking, studying or hanging out. It’s also a great chance, whether you think Dartmouth students have gotten soft or you desperately want some sort of alternative social space at this school, to work together on a tradition that also carries us into the future.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of my own cynicism. I’m exhausted by endless conversations about how we don’t like it at the school we spent 18 years trying to get into. Is it too much to ask that we put our thoughts into action and try to do something great together?

There are only three days left until Winter Carnival. There’s an email in your inbox asking for help with the sculpture. Open it. Answer the call. Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your club, bring your Greek house, bring your crush from Anthro class. You know, you can bring your professor, too.

But what matters is that you show up. Show up so that you can have some easy fun at a what’s otherwise hard school. Show up so that you can tell people you helped build a colossal snow sculpture. Show up just because it’s fun. Show up for tradition, show up for progress, show up for whatever it is that motivates you. But please, show up.