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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Green Key From Outside the Woods

One writer interviews visitors who came to campus for what some might call Dartmouth’s best weekend.

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From Duke Ellington to the Grateful Dead, Neon Trees to this year’s headliner, Shaggy, Green Key — Dartmouth’s annual spring concert — has hosted artists representing nearly every genre of music. Thanks to the performers and the accompanying weekend events, Green Key is widely considered the most exciting weekend of spring term. Unlike most terms at Dartmouth — fall devolving into barren trees and fading tans, winter becoming numbingly cold and inconceivably slushy — spring seems to get better and better, with Green Key acting as the light at the end of the tunnel. 

But what does this look like to students from other schools, who aren’t used to experiencing this bliss in the middle of their academic quarter or who are already on summer vacation? 

Shar Shojaian, a member of the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2022, noted that there were musical differences between Spring Fling — her school’s spring celebration — and Green Key.

“I was really excited to see another school’s [version of] Spring Fling,” Shojaian said. “I feel like it was similar in the way that there were frat events that were hosting stuff, and the Block Party was super fun. That was pretty similar to something we have, except that you guys had live music.”

Shojaian added the strong presence of live music, experienced and, in some cases, performed by students, is part of what makes Dartmouth’s community special.

“Music brings the people together at Dartmouth,” she said. “Live music is a bigger thing at Dartmouth than it is at Penn, and the type of music [Dartmouth students] play is also different. It was much more indie alternative music, as opposed to just straight rap and pop.”

Sarah Meigs, a first-year student at Rice University, also believes the student bands were a unique aspect of Dartmouth’s culture.

“It seems like you guys have bands that are doing something a lot of the weekends, and that’s so not a thing at Rice,” Meigs said. “I’m definitely jealous of that.”

Shojaian added that Green Key turns out a much larger percentage of the student body than Penn’s spring concert, while cultivating a more enthusiastic environment. 

“We also have concerts that the school sponsors, we bring artists in, but we only have that for one evening, and the turnout is usually really bad,” Shojaian said.

Even outside of the Green Key concerts, Shojaian added that Penn’s Greek spaces are not as open as they are at Dartmouth — according to her, “the culture is just so different.” 

Bridget O’Grady, a first-year student at Northeastern University, also highlighted the inclusivity of Dartmouth’s Greek life, which she expressed “can be very exclusive” at other universities. 

“Some things were invite-only, but at most of the parties anyone could show up, and everyone was very nice and very talkative,” O’Grady said. “No one seemed closed off.”

Henry Banner, a first-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, added that he felt like part of the Dartmouth community during his visit over Green Key weekend.

“I felt pretty included,” Banner said. “We were out on the Green playing spikeball and throwing a frisbee and stuff, and random people were coming up to us and playing with us.”

Dartmouth’s Programming Board, which helps organize Green Key, works to make the weekend accessible to visitors. According to PB’s website, there were “a limited number of guest tickets [to the Green Key mainstage concert] for sale at $20 per ticket, with a maximum of two guests per student and a total max of 1,000 guest tickets.”

Additionally, students could pick up guest wristbands at the same time and place as Dartmouth students, providing entry into the same spaces as regular students.

“I had my [Dartmouth] friend pick up my wristband, and no one gave us trouble,” Shojaian said. “Logistically, it was super easy.”

Some visiting students, like O’Grady, were also impressed with how many Dartmouth students get all of their work done before the concert. 

“You guys have a lot of fun here, and I really wasn’t expecting that,” O’Grady said. “When you think ‘Ivy League,’ you just think academics. You don’t really think that there’s a big social scene and that you hang out all the time. I just thought you all would be studying.”

Clearing time for the concert speaks to Green Key’s unique standing in the community, which some visitors learned stands apart from most other weekends on campus.

“I was thinking that Green Key is every weekend at Dartmouth,” Meigs said. “But someone [told me], ‘You’re literally seeing the best weekend. Sometimes we go out and there’s nothing happening.’ Which is comforting because I feel like sometimes that’s the case at Rice.”

Though the weekend might be the height of spring at Dartmouth, the newly initiated to Green Key said they would come back.

“I loved it,” Banner said. “I thought it was a super fun, cool campus, and I’ll probably be back for another Green Key.”

Although Dartmouth’s spring term continues through early June, students do not let academics hinder their love of live music and community — a feeling so palpable that visitors are left craving a second visit.

“I think the culture is the most special,” Shojaian said. “And the fact it’s in the woods — I think people literally touch grass more. People are really down to earth and super nice.”