At Dartmouth, going out during the winter is an extreme undertaking. With temperatures that often drop below zero and wind strong enough to invade even the warmest of frackets, only the strongest can survive.
Unfortunately, a fellow member of the Class of 2025 was nearly not one of these people. Last Saturday night, she was walking back after a night out when her foot caught a patch of black ice. Her unfortunate night out Saturday landed her in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Emergency Room on Sunday. The formal diagnosis was a sprained foot, but her real injury remains her shattered pride — broken enough that she requested anonymity for this article.
Though I can’t say I have experienced a night quite as extreme as this, I have had my fair share of slips and falls. Most Dartmouth students can say the same; the combination of nighttime darkness and the omnipresent black ice makes for a dangerous pair.
On more nights than I would like to admit, I have found myself opting to stay in solely because of the weather. As I have learned, the Dartmouth social scene pays no mind to the bitter cold. No matter the weather, students find ways to let loose.
Even though I thought I knew what I was getting into when I chose to go to school in New Hampshire, the temperature’s effect on my social life has been an unforeseen challenge. The thought of my heated dorm room, insulated by three walls of cinderblocks, and my cozy bed often sound infinitely more appealing than trudging through snow and ice.
For residents of the River Cluster, like Ellie McLaughlin ’25, going out in the winter months is an extremely “treacherous” endeavor.
“I have not really regretted ever staying in because the walk is a little too far,” McLaughlin said.
When going out, most people opt to wear “frackets.” A portmanteau of fraternity and jackets, this term describes coats worn specifically for going out with the understanding that they may get lost. Once you toss your fracket on the ground, there is no guarantee that it is the one you will be returning with. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lost fracket has dangerous consequences.
Earlier this term, Maya Resnick ’25 experienced these frightening consequences when her fracket was stolen.
“My friend told me to take someone else’s fracket because it was below zero degrees outside,” Resnick said. “But I decided not to and just ran in a tank top from Frat Row to East Wheelock.”
According to Resnick, the run was “freezing.”
“My body was literally numb by the time I got home,” she said.
Sometimes, a simple fracket isn’t enough. I often opt to wear a winter hat as well, and I know many people who even have froves (frat gloves?) and frarves (frat scarves?). For those that think a hat, gloves and scarf are extravagant, McLaughlin takes going out preparation to another level with her heated vest.
“The heated vest was a gift from my mom for when it got below 0,” McLaughlin explained. “She was worried about me and wanted to enable her daughter to go fratting more easily.”
Amid all the negatives involved in venturing out into the cold, dark Hanover nights, there are a few positives. Perhaps most of all, walking in from the frigid air makes steamy fraternity basements feel like comfortable saunas. Of course, this reward is only earned by completing that arduous journey through violent wind gusts and hidden patches of ice.
Running between fraternities is also a great way to include some extra exercise during the day. The run from Frat Row to East Wheelock can really get your blood pumping and even make you a bit winded. Just beware of ice patches — you don’t want to end up at DHMC.
For Alec Stern ’25, fresh snow offers a quick, comfortable place to rest amid the chaos of the night’s activities.
“Crawling out of a steamy frat basement and collapsing into the snow is like plunging into a cold pool after a workout,” Stern said.
Unfortunately, we still have some weeks of winter ahead — thank you, Punxsutawney Phil. Until warmer weather finally comes, keep your frackets near.