Sophomore Summer: The Unaffiliated Edition

Unaffiliated sophomores express excitement and anxiety for the upcoming term.

by Jayanth Uppaluri | 5/18/22 2:10am

Sophomore summer is approaching, and with it comes the promise of easier classes, warmer weather, river dips and a campus left just to the ’24s. Yet, as I’ve discussed sophomore summer with upperclassmen friends, bonding within Greek spaces has been a common refrain. This presents a particular problem for me, as I’m part of the 39% of Dartmouth ’24s who are unaffiliated, according to the latest statistics from the IFC and ISC.

I would be lying if I said this didn’t worry me, at least a bit. While I’m not opposed to Greek life, I was unable to rush this year due to COVID concerns. And though I belong to a socially active jazz group, I sometimes feel like Dartmouth’s larger social scene is inaccessible. Since my music ensemble is inactive during the summer, I wonder whether I will have the same social experience as my classmates.

On the other hand, Ginger Link ’24 was never interested in rushing, noting that this disinclination came from her “anti-establishment” attitude. Instead, Link found community through the DOC — specifically Cabin and Trail — which will be active during the summer.

“[The DOC] has many traditions exclusive to the summer… with lots of stuff up at Moosilauke [and] Fourth of July hikes. There are so many things that happen in the summer, and a lot of it happens in social groups that come from Cabin and Trail, and I’m excited to experience that,” Link said.

Link also noted that thanks to the organization of Cabin and Trail, she won’t need to rely on Greek houses for the structured social events that she recognizes as one of their benefits.

“[The DOC] has organized trips and activities that I can do with a group of people… I’m also a leader for Cabin and Trail, so if I ever feel like I’m lacking in social opportunities, I can literally make my own by leading trips,” Link said.

Laurel Pitts ’24, a fellow member of Cabin and Trail, previously participated in sorority rush but ended up dropping. While Pitts still spends time in Greek houses with her affiliated friends, she noted that these events can feel walled-off.

“Sometimes I wish that I had that always-available social space that Greek life provides… that there’s something happening every night that you can go to if you want, but you don’t have to,” Pitts said. “I think that’s a nice aspect, but for the most part I really don’t regret my decision and I’m not worried.”

For Deborah Jung ’24, events hosted by co-ed Greek houses have helped her be socially active in Dartmouth’s Greek-dominated environment.

“Alpha Theta has Mellows and Phi Tau has milk and cookies… you can go to most tails if you are unaffiliated, so if I want to go out, I will!” Jung said.

Jung noted that this sense of openness might be because many of her friends from other groups, like Marching Band, are in co-ed fraternities. Jung said she doesn’t feel the need to rush because she already interacts with her friends in these other social spaces, a point also echoed by Link.

Besides Pitts’ point about the large number of Greek social events, no one I spoke with mentioned other drawbacks to remaining unaffiliated over the summer — and Jung bluntly pointed out the benefits of not having to worry about paying dues.  

When asked about how she would deal with any social pressures coming from the dominance of Greek life, Pitts focused on the importance of spending quality time with friends over membership in campus organizations.

“My friendships on campus are important to me… a set group or club isn’t necessary. I’m [also] really excited [for sophomore summer] because I get to see my friends who I haven’t seen in a while, and I’m looking forward to these changes in my personal social life,” she explained.

In general, students noted that there were many positives to the summer that have nothing to do with Greek life. Link explained that for the first time, she’s been able to sign up for classes with friends. Pitts hoped that the nice weather would help people relax, making the notoriously stressful quarters a bit easier. Link even added that sophomore summer would be the perfect time for her to experience the Greek system for the first time, with smaller numbers and “people [she] already knows.”

Jung summed it up nicely, saying, “Regardless of whether my friends and I are affiliated, there will be many things to do, and if [me and my friends] are going to want to do something in a Greek house, then we can do that!”

In the end, the summer will be a time of bonding for all ’24s, affiliated or not. For unaffiliated students who want to hang out in Greek spaces, that avenue remains open, but other social options abound. After all, it’s Dartmouth, and it’s sophomore summer — there will be plenty of revelry for everyone.

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