Dartbeat Investigates: Suspicious Campus Stains and Liquids

By PJ Bigley | 4/1/16 6:55am

Colleges are notoriously dirty places (in two senses, though in this post I’m really only concerned with the literal dirtiness of Dartmouth). I guess you could say that my fascination with this institution’s stains began in my freshman dorm room. Walking into my luxurious McLaughlin single, I couldn’t help but notice the gigantic red stain on the carpet splayed between my desk and the door. My mind went a million different directions on that one (not really, I just kind of like to think that the College tried to cover up a homicide in my room, but it was probably just a bleach stain). Since then, scoping out stains around campus and speculating about their origins has become a sort of “hobby” of mine.

I decided not too long ago that I wanted to share my love of stains with others. So when I got permission to write this article, I was over the moon. And then, in true “me” fashion, I forgot all about it. But walking toward Foco for dinner and seeing ketchup splattered on the ground, I suddenly remembered that I’d forgotten to write this story. I made a weird pterodactyl noise in response and began furiously snapping pictures of the ground. After a few of minutes of taking terrible, inartistic pictures and being stared at by passerby, I had all the evidence I needed. (I’d like to point out that the fact that it took mere minutes to find enough stains is a testament to how dirty this campus is and not how little effort I put into this article.) Regardless, having risked my dignity for all of our ten loyal readers (truly, thank you), I give you a gallery of some suspicious stains and liquids:

Location #1: North Mass


Here we have your classic college stain: a piece of gum. Origin: unknown. Flavor: probably mint. (I sniffed it, but it was hard to tell. The carpet kind of just smelled like feet.)

Location #2: Streeter


I am pretty sure this is vomit. I take that back—this is definitely vomit. We all know how this one went down: The stain’s proximity to the trash cans indicates that some poor soul almost made it. After a long night of MDF-approved partying, this (21-year old) student must have…gotten the stomach flu! No question about it! What remains suspicious, however, is the current nature of this stain. Why isn’t the stain more faint? Why didn’t the carpet return to its original color? More frighteningly, one might ask, “Was the carpet ever cleaned at all?”

Location #3: Trash cans


Ah, garbage juice, the most mysterious of sludges. This particular patch of garbage juice is quite interesting because it’s not altogether clear where this little stream of water came from. I’d like to think it’s leftover rainwater, or that someone turned on a hose or maybe just spilled something. The other possibilities are a bit more sinister. Luckily, this garbage runoff is probably safe given that it doesn’t come from the frat row side of campus. I don’t—and quite frankly don’t want—to know what drips out of those trash bags. It’s probably mostly Keystone, with an added hint of urine. Yum.

Location #4: Foco (Light Side)


Suspicious stains are anything but scarce in Foco. This stain seems to be liquid, probably the remains of some spilled soda or other caffeinated beverage. On the other hand, it is Foco so it could be any number of strange sauces or…actually, I don’t really know what else it could be. The food at Foco always keeps me guessing. Some things are best left to the imagination, I suppose.

Location #5: Foco (stairs to Narp Castle)


This is my favorite stain location. The stairs to Narp Castle never disappoint. To anyone who has made the long journey up those stairs, you know as well as I do that whoever designed them is a sadist. There must be something about the height of the stairs, or the distance between them or maybe even the material that they’re made from that makes it so supremely easy to trip on them. What kind of night would it be if you couldn’t start a chorus of slow claps as some unwitting freshman tripped up the stairs, losing his whole plate of food (and what little dignity he had) as he fell? Tonight’s victims were the green beans. It’s probably best. They tasted like farts.

Location #6: The Library


Last but certainly not least, library stains. These types of stains give me the greatest joy. They remind me that my life is not nearly as bad as that of the person who made the stain. The faint brown of coffee on the otherwise spotless carpet tells a tale of long sleepless nights in good old Baker-Berry. Interestingly, the faded color of these splotches is not the result of the carpets being cleaned, but rather that of students’ tears rubbing away at them over the years. A lesser-known library fact is that the stacks used to be carpeted. The carpet was taken out when it became one giant stain, the result of students going crazy and dropping food, burning notes and otherwise discoloring the floors of Dartmouth’s most-loathed study spot. (Clearly that is totally untrue, but the stone floors do make it easier to clean coffee and tear stains…oh, and the smell of suffering.)

Well, that’s all the weird I have in me for this week, but if you find an interesting stain on campus, please let me know. I’m the weird person squatting over that pile of green goop outside of Collis.

All photos courtesy of PJ Bigley for The Dartmouth

PJ Bigley