Dartbeat Investigates: Vanity License Plates

By Julia Vallone | 2/24/16 6:54am

Last week, during my daily monthly walk from my dorm to the gym, I stumbled across something peculiar: CARCAR. OKYDOK. NEWGAL. What are these cryptic, six letter jumbles, you ask? Typos? No. Riddles? Sort of. Nicholas Cage-esque clues to unlocking the mystery of the universe? Probably.

I introduce to you the new phenomenon sweeping the nation town of Hanover: vanity license plates. From Hop meal shout-outsto sweet declarations of spousal commitment, these plates are popping up all over campus. But why? Dartbeat investigates!

I had three guesses as to why vanity plates are so common in Hanover:

1. The plates are either free or relatively cheap.
2. There is a secret jail yard beneath the Green producing vanity plates.
3. Hanover residents (especially Dartmouth students) champion individual expression and originality in all areas of life, including their license plates.

According to the State of New Hampshire, vanity plates cost at least $40 per year, plus the town, city and state registration fees, as well as an $8 one-time plate fee. In other words, acquiring a vanity plate can be a pricy endeavor, especially if you’re interested in moose plates, which cost a whopping $30 more. With this information, I crossed guess number one off the list.

I moved on to guess number two and searched long and hard for some underground access from the ice-covered death trap that is the Green. But alas, after hours spent scouring the basement of Rauner Library and the catacombs of the Hood Museum, I came up empty-handed. I had no choice but to declare guess number two kaput (which, honestly, I did with some relief because if facilities existed under the Green and weren’t being used for either a disco club or a roller rink, I would be incredibly disappointed).

Then I was left with guess number three: Dartmouth students are incredibly creative and encourage originality in all areas of life, including car bumper decor. But I was skeptical. How original can Dartmouth students be? After all, this year’s Winter Carnival theme was, for the eight-millionth time, about Dr. Seuss. Some of the vanity plates I found around campus were, nevertheless, hilarious. So in usual Dartbeat investigates fashion, in which I investigate little and come up with nothing, I’m going to go ahead and chalk these vanity plates up to Dartmouth kids being Dartmouth kids — weird and funny with money they don’t know what to do with. I leave you with a few of my favorite campus vanity plates:






All photos courtesy of Julia Vallone for The Dartmouth

Julia Vallone