Touching the Fire – ’18s Edition

“Others in the crowd may maliciously yell out, ‘Worst class ever!’ or ’Touch the fire!’ Those are the chants of those misguided souls who may believe that tradition lives on in demeaning the experiences of others.”

It reads like a celestial warning but in reality, this is a quote from the 2013 Homecoming edition of the undergraduate dean’s newsletter, advising the Class of 2017 not to touch the fire. The warning was short-lived —  members of the Class of 2017 touched the fire, as did those in the Class of 2018 last week.

While not everyone approves of touching the fire, and even fewer students consider it a tradition, having the upperclassmen yell “touch the fire” at the running freshmen is something that has happened at Dartmouth for many years.

And this is not where the story ends.

Not only do the upperclassmen chant during the bonfire, but various freshmen deviate from their circular leaps to do exactly as they are told.

In the rush of the moment, they run toward the hot, blazing bonfire as if they were jumping in as a sacrifice to a mighty fire god (think about it, this is more similar to pagan rites than we would like to admit).

However, this is Dartmouth, and they don’t jump into the bonfire. Instead, they touch the fire, amusing the spectators and getting chased by Hanover Police.

See, touching the fire is illegal. It is considered a disorderly conduct offense, and lands you a night in jail and a fine of approximately $900.

Allegedly, three male freshmen including campus-known rapper Ill Fayze (Marcus Reid ’18 who doesn’t live in coats) succumbed to the chanting and decided to make their class proud while gaining some extra social points.

While Reid, who in an e-mail to The Dartmouth said he was the first to touch the fire, didn’t get caught, another one of the fire-touchers, Braden Pellowski ’18, didn’t have quite the same luck. Pellowski declined to comment.

After getting fined for the offense, Pellowski had the clever idea to start a GoFundMe campaign titled “Touched the Fire” in order to get the $700 s he was missing to pay his fine. In the description, Pellowski recounts how he thought he had gotten away from the police only to be caught later. Within a day of his online funding campaign, he had already reached his goal.

Various students claim to have seen a third ’18 touch the fire as well. However, we received no direct confirmation from him.

While many are questioning if “touching the fire” is worthy of a Dartmouth tradition, I am faced with another question — do they burn their hands? I personally haven’t seen any burns, which makes me wonder if we should start calling it something else, like “close-enough-to-the-touching-the-fire-but-I’m-not-burning-myself.”

One way or another and whether we like it or not, adrenaline-pumped occasionally tipsy freshmen attempting to touch the fire is just another part of Dartmouth’s Homecoming bonfire. 

Dear old Dartmouth, set a watch. Lest the old traditions fail. 

Dartmouth Admissions: Part Four


I have decided to officially nominate Kanye West to be the unofficial frontman of this column.  Not just because my friend sent me this the other day, but because he never gets embarrassed, he is honest with himself and he always loves himself.  He doesn’t take shit from anyone and he never fails to let people know how he feels about them. If Kanye went to Dartmouth he would dance like no one was watching at Sig Ep’s Pop-Punk party, be that kid who corrects the teacher in the middle of class, and generally do “dope shit.” I am most certain Kanye would admit something to me with his face like this to drive home the point that he is a god.

What is most important about Kanye is that no matter what he does and no matter how much people criticize his life choices, he remains proud and happy with who he is as a person.  We could all learn to accept our mistakes, claim them as our own and love ourselves because of our flaws, rather than in spite of them.  I’m thankful to every person who was willing to admit to me this week: Keep doing you, and keep telling me about it.

Bonus picture from a brave alum during Homecoming:

All photos by Grace Miller, The Dartmouth Staff.

Texts From Last Night: Homecoming Edition

Well, it’s happened. The big fall weekend has come and gone, the fire has been touched, the miles have been run. And the late night texts have been sent. We’ve found some of your best texts amid the Homecoming frolicking and although the weekend is over, the texts will live on (even if you don’t remember them).

The perils of Late Night Collis.

415: Drunk for Dumplings, no DBA
415: Hey that rhymed

When does the networking end? (Hint: it doesn’t)

617: I’ll actually try to wingman though the fact that I shadowed his father for a day and am connected with him on linkedin might be hard to suppress
617: Just subtly punch me in the face if I seem like I’m about to bring it up 

The real meaning of anarchy.

603: cocoa butter kisses
781: anarchy

Precaution taken to the next level.

603: Walked my bike because I didn’t want a DUI

DroCo is the only way to FoCo.

443: wait nvm. you probably don’t want dinner with drunk me
443: unless you do

The futile apologies of late-night munchies.

252: I ate so much of ur bread last night I’m sorry


17 Hours at Dartmouth College

Portsmouth, England. Oct. 17, 1714, 8:00 p.m.
My time machine is finally complete! Now I must travel 300 years into the future to discover a cure for the smallpox that has been plaguing the village. I need to do so quickly — this thunderstorm is growing bigger as we speak. I have the date and location programmed into the machine. I will write again from the future.

A grassy field, Portsmouth, England. Oct. 17, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
It worked! I barely made it away though; a tree branch came flying through the window and hit the controllers right before I left, but it didn’t seem to have affected anything. Portsmouth has changed quite a bit in 300 years, however. I am now standing on the edge of a grassy field, and a large wooden structure with the number 18 on its top is in the center of the field. People walk around me, some alone, some in small groups. Many are wearing green shirts with the number 18 on the front. While they all speak English, they do so with a strange accent I have never heard before. But no matter, I’ll just turn off the time machine and then go find the cure.

A grassy field, Dartmouth College. Oct. 17, 2014, 8:12 p.m.
Oh. I am not in Portsmouth after all. It seems that the tree branch changed the location to “Hanover,” a village I do not recognize. I only have enough power to return once to 1714, however. I cannot waste it getting back to Portsmouth. They must have had the smallpox in Hanover as well. I can surely find the cure here. A massive crowd has begun to form around the wooden structure; I will go there to investigate. An even larger group, all wearing the green 18 shirts, is approaching as well.

Behind a building, Dartmouth College. Oct. 17, 2014, 9:06 p.m.
I barely escaped with my life! As the green shirts approached (many with green markings on their faces and glowing circles on their heads and necks), they formed a circle around the structure, which was then lit on fire. Everyone watched it, hypnotized, then began to run around it in what was clearly a satanic ritual. The crowd around it began to yell things like “Run faster,” “Touch the fire” and “Worst class ever.” I watched in horror as the green shirts slowly began to leave the circle, likely searching for someone to sacrifice to the massive fire. I noticed one looking at me strangely, who then said to the girl next to her something along the lines of “creepy alumni.” Sure that this was the start to my slow, painful death I ran away until I found myself in safety behind a large building with many windows. Wait — I hear voices approaching, I must run again!

In a small room, Dartmouth College, Oct. 17, 2014, 10:32 p.m.
The group, this time dressed in strangely bright colors, approached me before I could run again. As they were entering the building I decided my best bet was to blend in with them — standing alone will simply make me more conspicuous. I joined their ranks and followed them to a small, cluttered room with loud music playing. One of them smiled and hugged me, introducing herself. I decided she seemed safe enough, so I asked her about a cure for smallpox. She smiled again and handed me a red cup with a liquid inside — the cure! I drank it quickly, feeling a warm sensation in my chest as it went down. I tried to ask for more of it, but she had turned away and didn’t seem to hear me over the music. The cure is making me a bit lightheaded, so I’ll wait until later to get enough for my family and friends back home.

A crowded underground room, Dartmouth College. Oct. 18, 2014, 12:19 a.m.
I sat and nodded my head to the music until the group began to file out the door, talking about a “party” and “Heorot.” As we left I grabbed the bottle that the cure had came from, hiding it inside my jacket. Nobody seemed to notice. We walked until we approached a building with a crowd around the door trying to enter. After a short wait, we went inside and walked down a flight of stairs. A horrible smell emanated from the room, and it seemed to get strangely warmer as we descended. Slightly worried that this was an entrance to hell, I swallowed my fear and followed the group anyway. A large mass of people, all dressed in the same strange bright clothing, are moving around, some grabbing at each other, perhaps a bizarre form of dancing. The music is so loud I can barely think, and the cure I drank earlier is making it hard to stand.

A bush. Oct. 18, 2014, 1:05 p.m.
I woke up hidden in a bush, with a vague memory of stumbling out of the building and falling asleep here. I can see a huge crowd all dressed in green headed in the same direction, but I don’t want to risk anything after last night’s near sacrifice. Plus, I have a pounding headache, and the loud screaming from the arena-like place they’re all headed is making it even worse. I will head back to Portsmouth with the cure now; I’ve had enough of this bizarre place called “Dartmouth.”​

Dartmouth Admissions: Part Three


This is the third week of Dartmouth Admissions and I have effectively run through my list of people who owe me favors. So I’ve become that crazy person standing outside the admissions building yelling at people innocently trying to get lunch at Collis to “COME ADMIT SOMETHING TO ME.” Let me tell you, sounding like a crazy person is exhausting.

From what I can tell from heckling, the Dartmouth community is either comprised of: a. immensely self-confident people who truly are too proud of everything they have done to “not be able to remember anything embarrassing,” or b. a bunch of liars. I guess there is the ever-possible c. people who don’t enjoy telling their deepest secrets to strangers. That being said, while writing this article, I have met some incredible people who were unafraid to admit to hysterical things.

This weekend was Homecoming, a time filled with alums, students pretending to care about football, pong (real pong, not that root nonsense in the Mindy Project this week) and of course running laps around a giant fire. So I hope you went out, had fun, got a little crazy; you can always admit to me later this week.

All photos by Grace Miller, The Dartmouth Staff. 

FoCo Joe: Homecoming French Fry Bonfire

Happy Homecoming everyone!  What better way to celebrate this wonderful weekend than with an exciting French Fry Bonfire straight from FoCo?

This week’s dessert is French fries topped with “the fire” – no, it is not spicy, nor is it the predictable ketchup-mustard combo. This is a dessert fire, if you will—a sweet and creamy concoction of vanilla soft serve, orange soda and (since it is fall) a touch of pumpkin ice cream.  This week’s dessert, unlike last week’s Apple Burger, is incredibly easy to replicate.

Step 1: Grab a handful of fries, around 20 or so, from the grill station. If you want to make a giant bonfire, by all means go for it; this dessert is intended to serve one to two people (also unlike most of my other dessert creations — woohoo!).

Step 2: Stack fries “log cabin” style — two parallel French fries to start the first layer, then another pair of French fries on top as another “story.”  The second pair is perpendicular to the first “story.” Use longer French fries at the bottom of the bonfire, and shorter ones toward the top.

Step 3: Mix vanilla soft serve (or ice cream — it’s just a preference thing for me, though ice cream is creamier and thicker in texture) with a small scoop of pumpkin ice cream and some orange soda.  To give the “fire” the hot color it deserves, veer toward the orange soda bias and use the vanilla more conservatively.

Step 4: Dip fries into the “fire” and enjoy!  This dessert is not quite as savory and amazing as the McDonald’s French fry-McFlurry combo, but at least you can finally “touch the fire” safely.