Dartbeat Mythbusters: Episode One

By Cody Fujii | 10/3/14 6:00am

Ever considered keeping a cute chinchilla to show off to your friends? Or wondered whether the streaking traditions like the Ledyard Challenge were not only “totally Dartmouth” but also totally legal as well? Welcome to Dartmouth Mythbusters, where we prove or bust all those burning myths you’ve heard about life at Dartmouth.

So can you keep an awesome chinchilla in your dorm room? Well, in short, no. The Office of Residential Life guide clearly statesthat “[s]tudents may not at any time be in possession of animals, even for short term visits, in College owned or operated residential facilities, except for fish,” due to the potential “health or emotional risk” they pose to residents. And not even all fish are allowed — they must be kept in a 10-gallon or smaller tank.

Since “fish” is a very vague word that includes all kinds of animals, I decided to call ORL to see what “fish” meant. Assistant director of residential education for living learning programs and academic initiatives Katharina Daub confirmed that, as the policy states, only “fish” are allowed as pets. No jellyfish, crustaceans, salamanders, turtles, shrimp, et cetera. Just because something can live in a fish tank does not mean you can keep it.

Up next we have the legality of the Ledyard Challenge. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it is a Dartmouth tradition during which students strip at the Ledyard Canoe Club, swim naked across the Connecticut River into Vermont and run back across the bridge to the safety of their clothes. These students are always worried about (humiliatingly) running into the police, but is it actually illegal? New Hampshire law states, that one “is guilty of a misdemeanor if such person fornicates, exposes his or her genitals or performs any other act of gross lewdness under circumstances which he or she should know will likely cause affront or alarm.” Basically, being naked in New Hampshire is illegal.

However, Vermont law statesthat “[a] person guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $300.00, or both.” Lewd behavior in public is illegal, but nudity is not strictly prohibited. So yes, the Ledyard Challenge is as illegal as it is Dartmouth. But you won’t necessarily get arrested in Vermont if you’re naked — the only problem is crossing the state line to retrieve your clothing.

Check back next week when we tackle a few more famous Dartmouth myths.

Cody Fujii