Welcome to Column 16 of Stuff Dartmouth Kids Like. Has it really been that long? Why has no one commented on any of my articles? Do you guys not think I’m funny? Oh God, are people pointing at me with lasers in their eyes when I walk across the Green to class, thinking, “That’s that chick who thinks she’s hilarious but really is just an obnoxious loser”? Oh God oh God oh God I can feel the hyperventilation coming on. Somebody get me a paper bag.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Dartmouth. I love it so much I’m still writing this column even though I’m not even on this term. I love Dartmouth in all its beer-soaked, mung-covered, new-meal-plan-random-walkthroughs-no-more-funding-for-Green-Team-is-the-administration-just-blacked-out-all-the-time? glory. But Dartmouth, I have a bone to pick with you.
This weekend marks the beginning of hunting season. With the return of Bored at Baker last week and the beginning of girls’ rush, ‘tis the season to be judgy.
I’m not writing about B@B and rush because I want to talk about those two things specifically. God knows enough people have complained about B@B in formal and informal settings, and even though rush is far from perfect I don’t have any ideas to fix it (short of making all houses local, but that’s a totally different issue). It’s just that girls’ rush and an anonymous gossip website are two of the best examples I can think of to represent exactly how judgy and catty this school can sometimes be.
Let’s start with Bored at Baker. Ignore the commentary on current events and the random NSFW pictures and you’ve got a ton of posts ranking fraternities, labeling student groups and people “A-side” and “B-side,” asking if this girl’s dress is ugly or whether that boy is gay. Posts asking if it’s social suicide to join a house without the perceived coolness of the author’s other option, which she likes less but has more social cachet. Posts that are nothing more than a student’s name, which people can vote up or down depending on how lame/cool/terrible/great the unfortunate named one is.
What about rush? Why does it cause so much stress at a school with probably the most open Greek system I’ve seen? Girls freak out about whether they’re going to pref the “ragey” house or the “domestic” house or the “bro-y” house. I can’t speak for the men of Dartmouth, but my girl friends and I agree that being an unaffiliated woman at this school is – in terms of social options and how your peers treat you – not all that different from being an affiliated one.
I think part of it is human nature. Obviously a huge percentage of B@B is farce – students who are parodying stereotypes surrounding our Greek system and sports teams and extracurriculars or just trying to get a rise out of people to rack up virtual points. As for rush, I went through it twice, and I know what it was like to go into a process with high hopes and an open mind, only to feel completely excluded by the system I wanted to join until a term later. Everybody wants to be liked, and it’s almost guaranteed that during rush you will feel unwanted by somebody. I get that.
But there’s something else, too. We frantically search B@B for our own names – just look at the updated Dunyun 102, #70. We have reservations about doing what we feel is right for us because of what other people might think. It’s not just Dartmouth but for the sake of comparison, other Ivies have Boredat sites and I’ve heard time and again that our version is by far the most used and the most vicious.
Maybe it’s because we’re in the wilderness with few social options besides the highly structured Greek system. Maybe it’s because we’re such a small school that it becomes literally impossible to avoid hearing about other peoples’ personal lives.
I refuse to believe that Dartmouth students are just catty and malicious, because I have met so many of you who are absolutely wonderful. But I can’t figure out what’s causing it. I haven’t decided what I think yet, but I do know that there are aspects of Dartmouth’s culture that I would like to change. When you describe someone as a “total AD bro who went to Exeter,” all I’ve learned is that that he plays double-stem tree and is probably from the Northeast. If I ask you about somebody, and you tell me, “Oh, she’s a swimmer,” what am I supposed to get from that? Nothing, except that if we had a Ledyard Challenge race, she would win. (P.S. Challenge completed! Eat my dust, law enforcement! #12Xbucketlist)
Judgment can be a good thing. Philosophers will tell you that the fear of judgment is the only thing that keeps selfish people from doing terrible things, but at what point does it become too much? Where on the continuum are we?
I want to hear what you have to say. But not anonymously – tell me if you hated this, if you think I’m an idiot, or if what I said made sense to you too. Blitz me. Mean it.
But even if Dartmouth can sometimes be less accepting than we would like, I have faith that when we’re all back for our first, fifth or tenth reunions, none of that will matter anymore. We’ll remember all the good things and the reasons we loved Dartmouth in the first place, and we’ll know that we’ll never be voices crying out alone in the wilderness again.