Gart: Wednesday Night Fever
Thanks to Dartmouth’s peculiar nightlife schedule, Wednesday nights have become a unique learning opportunity for students.
This column is featured in the 2022 Green Key special issue.
Green Key weekend is a mythological occurrence at Dartmouth. For a short window of time, people from all backgrounds set aside their differences and unite in a common goal: partying their hearts out. Big-name artists bump their music across the campus, academic pursuits grind to a screeching halt and students are able to bask luxuriously in the glory of Green Key before the impending doom of finals sets in. Yet there’s one aspect of the weekend that’s unavoidable in its double-edged nature: the drinking.
Fridays and Saturdays are cause for celebration around the world. With the triumphant end to the workweek, exhausted citizens from Stockholm to Singapore raise their beverages of choice towards the sky and begin drinking. While college students usually push the gas pedal a little harder than the average person, Friday and Saturday nights are still universally known as the nights to celebrate. And while some hangovers may be fierce, the openness of the weekend allows ample time for recuperation. But with Dartmouth’s nightlife schedule, Wednesday nights present a valuable learning opportunity for us to learn our limits before we graduate.
Once we graduate from the idyllic Hanover bubble, there will no longer be “on nights.” There will be no tails, and the only Masters we’ll watch will be golf — not pong. When it comes to drinking, we’ll have the free time and financial means to go out as much as we want. If we don’t learn how to regulate ourselves responsibly before entering adult life, there could be serious consequences for our future careers, relationships and lives.
Of course, students regularly push the limits of their alcohol tolerance. The concept of college is deeply tied to drinking. At Dartmouth, drinking games are the bread and butter of the Dartmouth social scene. Although there are certainly exceptions, there are generally three nights a week that drinking is concentrated around: Fridays, Saturdays and the anomaly — Wednesdays. Push yourself too hard on a Wednesday, and you could sleep through your morning midterm, drill session or club meeting. Wednesday nights aren’t universally recognized as party time, and as a result, we are forced to reckon with the consequences of our actions the morning after.
This is the importance of Wednesday nights: It’s up to us. Unlike in high school, we’re no longer told what to do at every hour of the day. If we feel like hitting Happy Hour hard and not stopping until the sun rises, that’s our prerogative. If we feel like staying in and grinding out an inhuman load of homework, well, we can do that too. Just like every night of adulthood, we’re the only people who can control our Wednesday night shenanigans in a manner that’s best for us. And if we mess up (as we often do), then we see firsthand the consequences of our actions.
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge that Wednesday nights are far from perfect. Dartmouth’s drinking culture already has a plethora of problems, and what might start as a once-a-week cycle of drinking could easily spiral into seriously unhealthy habits if left unchecked. At this school, it’s dangerously easy to find people having boozy fun on just about every night of the week — and Wednesday nights can be a gateway into irresponsible drinking behavior. However, this problem lies within a greater culture of alcoholism in college — a subject for another article (or book!) entirely.
Even with this deeply imperfect culture, Wednesdays still provide one night during the week in which students are welcome to have a few drinks, rather than go too hard during the weekend due to pent-up desire. Wednesdays can be risky, but they serve as an important opportunity where students can learn their limits.
Growing up, I remember having two friends whose parents raised them with entirely opposite philosophies regarding something extremely important to our elementary school selves: candy. While one kid was entirely banned from eating any processed sugar whatsoever, the other had an entire drawer chock-full of Skittles, Snickers, Starbursts and more. Predictably, when the sugar-deprived kid got access to candy, he went crazy. By being forced to regulate his own candy intake, my sugar-comfortable friend quickly figured out that eating twelve Milky Way bars isn’t exactly a recipe for success — and as a result, he began to learn how to eat candy responsibly.
Sure, Dartmouth might not be filled with third graders (even if our eating habits might offer evidence to the contrary). But Wednesday night gives us all the chance to try out the concept of unlimited “candy” for ourselves. We’ve all had nights where we’ve indulged a little too heavily, and had a nasty stomach ache as a result. But after a few quarters, students begin to learn their own limits, and imbibe in a safe and responsible manner.
Without Wednesdays to teach us these valuable lessons, we could end up just like our prepubescent counterparts: buzzed, annoying and with the education of a third grader. College is a place of learning, both intellectually and socially. Yes, we’ll likely make a laundry list of mistakes by the time we (hopefully) graduate. But by being conscious of the lessons we learn along the way, even something as trivial as a Wednesday night can make us into better post-grad people.