Hopes and Hesitations on Greek Life

Beta Alpha Omega at Dartmouth, one of the many Greek houses that the Class of ‘19 has just  become free to explore.

Beta Alpha Omega at Dartmouth, one of the many Greek houses that the Class of ‘19 has just
become free to explore.

Editor’s note: The following is a collection of refelections offered by The Review’s crop of freshman about their preconceptions of the Greek system They’ve covered their memories as prospective students and also recollections of the the six-week period of freshman fall  when they were barred from entering Greek houses.

Johnathan L. Postiglione

Truth be told, a huge reason I came to Dartmouth College was the frats. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no party animal, but in my opinion, students in college need a way to cut loose once in a while. I took tours of 36 other schools on my road to application, and one of the things that struck me was that often times a stellar education and a thriving social scene seemed to be mutually exclusive (I’m looking at you, every other Ivy). In high school, one of the things I always looked forward to was the weekend and the fun that came along with it. While weekend days were a time to relax, the nights were sometimes a way to let all the frustrations of the week go. Here at Dartmouth, I expected plenty of frustrations to be thrown my way. I knew the rigors of a top college would dwarf those I had faced just last year. Through speaking with current students, I found out how fun and welcoming the distinctive fraternity culture was at the school. Before I even set foot on campus, I knew that having the option of going to a frat would be good for me. Yes, I had heard about some of the trouble the fraternities got into on campus, but it really didn’t bother me. I knew that if I wanted to go out and socialize, I had a place to go, and if I didn’t, I knew that there wouldn’t be any pressure from the system to avoid staying in for the night. All in all, no matter what people say about the frats here, I think that they serve an important role in campus culture at Dartmouth.

Karina E. Korsh

Entering college, I felt unique in understanding how important it is not to generalize and stereotype Greek life, believing that much criticism today comes from inaccurate associations of Greek life overall with the reprehensible actions of select houses on select campuses. To me, Greek systems are different on every single college campus, and are just as much shaped by their schools as they can be a force in shaping them.

One reason I chose Dartmouth was that I recognized the uniqueness and positivity of the Greek system here, a sentiment I felt before even applying that has only been reaffirmed since I have come to campus. I had known for years how inextricable Dartmouth’s culture and traditions were from its Greek houses through everything from Animal House to anecdotes from friends, but upperclassmen here have shown me that participating in the vast offerings of Greek life is entirely adaptable, with houses providing professor talks, panels, philanthropy, concerts, and more. Just as integral and unique is pong, and I feel immensely lucky to go to a school in which a freshman’s Friday night out offers opportunities to make actual connections with other students, not just sweaty and semi-anonymous dance parties (although you can find those too). I find the Greek houses at Dartmouth to be unique and accessible, and to not only reject and defy stereotypes of Greek life, but actively subvert them and seek to create positive change on campus.

However, my observations can only come from the opaque lens of a freshman in the age of the 6 Week Ban. To me, this policy presents a an unnecessary barrier to one of the reasons I came to this school and one thing that makes Dartmouth truly great.

Eva D. Sullivan

Although I still think the six-week ban was a ploy implemented by fraternities to make the Greek night life seem more exciting than it actually is, I must admit that I see the merit behind it. The reasons behind blocking freshmen from the Greek scene seemed well-intended, potentially effective, and not all-together unfounded. Looking at my fellow freshmen, I’m neither surprised nor offended that freshmen may be seen as a liability.

The turnout at the few Greek events we were able to attend reaffirmed the perception that freshmen tend to be overly keen and rowdy upon coming to college; understandably, Houses want to guard themselves against that. Why freshmen should feel entitled to get blacked-out in the Houses of brothers they don’t know, in the first few weeks of school, is unclear to me. For a system facing incessant scrutiny, this attempt to skip over the precarious sloppy-freshmen-phase seems only logical.

From the perspective of a freshman, as well, the ban seems to have had our best interest in hand. It’s reassuring, as a girl, to know that I’ll be going out with people with whom I have established relationships. I’m not at all worried, now, that I’ll be put into a precarious situation by being abandoned at a fraternity. There is something to be said of the “we’re all in this together” mentality that serves to bond the freshman class.

All in all, I doubt there are many freshman that would say they would prefer staying in dorms or apartments all night rather than go out to a party, but I also think most students will come to see the ban was put in place for the best. A little class hierarchy and freshman misery is to be expected in college.

Justin T. Snyder

My first experience with the Greek system at Dartmouth involved reading “Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy” in Rolling Stone magazine as a sophomore in high school. I was in the process of learning about the school, and I was horrified. In the ten minutes it took me to read the article, Dartmouth had been transformed from a prestigious academic institution to one obsessed with anti-intellectual, and vicious, hazing rituals. Luckily for me, my perception of our college did not end there. By chance, I spoke with an alumnus, the parent of a friend, who spoke fondly about his experience with the fraternity system. He reassured me that the system shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment to the college, but one of its greatest assets. My next source of information about the Greek system was my trip leader, an affiliated ’16. While tramping through the wilderness, he described to me a system that was generally built on a sense of community and inclusivity. Since matriculation, I’ve learned that male freshman typically have no trouble getting into fraternity events. This inclusivity stands in stark contrast to the anecdotes relayed to me by high-school friends. Friends at other institutions have told me that it can be extremely difficult to find a house that will take them or even let them into a party. I feel lucky to be at a place where Freshmen are welcomed into the school and valued as members of the community.

Cristoforo Coppola

Preconceptions of Dartmouth’s Greek System start long before the first day on campus.

“Elitist”, “disturbing” and “hazing promoters” are just some of the words that any interested applicant, browsing on the Internet, might read about Dartmouth’s Greek System. Talking to alumni and current students however, I soon realized that there was another side to the coin. They described the Greek system as “ a true community of values” and the various houses as “places where you forge your best memories”. Some even went as far as saying that it was “a part of the heart and soul of this college”. These two very contradicting images leave me uncertain of what to expect of Dartmouth’s Greek system. Who is right?

Preconceptions are often a bad thing. They mislead us, making us think like the masses and not as individuals, not allowing us to make our own conception of reality. Of course, it is preferable to believe the words of the people who have lived through it instead of some articles read online, but even then, it is up to the individual’s own experience to judge it by him or herself.

The freshmen have only just gained the chance to enter the frats and sororities for the first time, and only now we will able to judge by ourselves who was right. I have a feeling that it was the students.

Vibhor Khanna

I had heard the stereotypes, read Lohse’s ramblings in Rolling Stone, and heard the spiel about the inclusivity of Dartmouth’s fraternities. As a Southerner, where fraternities could not be more exclusive, the idea of an open Greek system was a major factor in drawing me to Dartmouth. After matriculating, but before the lifting of the so-called “frat ban”, I felt that I had been lied to. As every other ’19 eager to experience the frat scene did, I flocked with my schmob to Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Pop Punk, and later to Branchez at Bones Gate.  At BG for Branchez, we were told flat out not to waste our time waiting outside; the day after, most of the conversations I had with ‘19s began with “Did you get into BG? No? I didn’t either!” At Pop Punk, brothers faked an S&S shut-down to clear the ‘19s out, at which point I was finally able to get in. It seemed as if you could only get in if you knew a brother, and that I would be stuck going to dorm parties in Russel Sage until I got in’s with upperclassmen. I resigned myself to playing pong on makeshift stolen tables from Thayer, avoiding UGAs on their “community walkthroughs”, and dorm hopping. Once I thought I was going to a pre-game in the River, and I ended up in Alpha Phi Alpha, a small fraternity held in Channing-Cox. That was my last straw; I decided I would wait until this weekend to go out and experience Dartmouth’s night life in earnest.