Homecoming Reflection

Coming Home 2014

Coming Home 2014

The idea of Homecoming is nothing new for the majority of Dartmouth ’18s. Most had their own experiences with high school Homecomings for years before. Returning alumni, dances, and that Friday night football game are one thing. Homecoming at Dartmouth, however, was something different, and something much more special.

In essence, Homecoming is a time for people united by the common experience of having attended a certain school to come together, reflect on their time at the institution, see how things are today, and maybe even meet up with some old friends. Dartmouth’s Homecoming, particularly because of its sense of welcoming towards the freshman class, was a whole different animal. The bonfire and running of the freshmen certainly lived up to a reputation as appearing like something out of some arcane pagan ritual. Those most moved by the power of the Homecoming spirit seek immortality by attempting to touch the flaming structure, hopefully avoiding both immolation and criminal conviction.

Running around the fire felt nothing like hazing, or even an annoyance. Instead, it was a unifying, enjoyable experience all around. There was solace to take in the fact that ultimately it did not matter how many laps one ran. One, eighteen, or all one hundred eighteen, everyone was still part of the same Dartmouth family. Running around the fire brought the class together. As time went on, the circle of runners thinned out as people succumbed to fatigue (or else just decided to move on to something else) and the raging inferno dwindled.

After the bonfire, there were a number of prospects for the coming night. Homecoming inspired a certain air of exhilaration and celebration. Finally, we ’18s had truly become part of something bigger than ourselves. Dartmouth is going to be the next four years of our lives, and the excitement at that fact manifested itself that Friday night. Our options were numerous. Different fraternities had different gatherings, from a variety of live musical performances to Heorot’s packed and sweaty dance party, which drew massive numbers, attracting a line that stretched from the door to the street. Based off the reaction from many ’18s, the party was a success. Whether one’s night was spent hanging out in a dorm room with friends, crammed in the basement of Heorot like a can of sardines, or pigging out at Late Night Collis, memories were made on the freshmen’s first Homecoming Friday.

It is quite fitting that the infamous freshman fraternity ban ends the day after Homecoming. After six weeks of grueling schoolwork, fitting into new social groups, and exploring our new home, we ritually enter this community through the bonfire. Once Homecoming Weekend is over, we are true Dartmouth students, and are granted the privilege of entrance into the College’s most prominent social clubs. ’18s have bonded as a class, and now the time has come to bond as a whole school. This weekend was one of new experiences in many different spheres, and after six weeks of attending this storied institution, ’18s can comfortably call Dartmouth home. Having passed (or perhaps failed) our first midterms and written our first papers, and comforted by the fact that the iron curtain around the fraternities will have opened, a single thought crosses one’s mind: it’s going to be a great four years.

We may not all have touched the fire, but the fire certainly touched us.