Going Green, not Greek; or Why Fun is Universal
I am a creature of habit animated by twenty hobbies and a continuous supply of mocha-infused espresso drinks, armed with the sleep schedule of a demigod. Understandingly, since I was last roaming the Green and haunting Baker Library, campus has chilled quite a bit, but this hasn't prevented my friends from frequenting their favorite fraternities, nor has it stopped my floormates from walking Frat Row until dawn, nor has it stopped the various functions that often happen in Greek spaces ranging from dance group performances to a cappella concerts. That being said, I have one confession to make: I've yet to step foot inside a Greek house.
For those curious, Greek houses are both communities and physical spaces on campus. Different houses belong to different fraternities and sororities, some composed only of men, some only of women, and some coed, often with specific methods to acquire membership in a process divided between "rushing" and "pledging." In summation, they're social clubs often with storied histories that extend to the founding of American universities. Anyway, don't get me wrong: it's been much more than ten weeks since I first arrived on campus. I've seen a lot of places and amaze myself with my instinctual knowledge of shortcuts, hideaways, and cozy study spaces without giving it too much conscious thought: I'm actually a Dartmouth student, and I can confidently rely on the compass of my sleeping mind to drive me around attending classes and making moves. I already feel like I've been here forever, which, according to my friends, is both amazing and horrifying — like I've said before, Dartmouth is in a time zone of its own.
That all being said, I probably should've at least visited a Greek house in my time to scope out the scene or to attend a function, but the reality is that I've never needed nor felt pressured into going: I've simply found a really fun niche outside of Frat Row that has perfectly satisfied my idea of a fun Friday night and/or perfect evening. You might be thinking: "How is that possible? Dartmouth's Greek scene is one of the hallmarks of Dartmouth culture and married to the college experience there!" I'm certain alumni will tell you that; I'm certain other applicants will tell you that; I'm almost certain that some of my fellow bloggers will tell you that. And I can see why that might be true. But if you truly want to know if partaking in the Greek scene is essential to have fun here, I volunteer as tribute in saying that that isn't my truth. My friend Azariah '23 has been to a Greek house twice, and Mariah '23 was at a frat dance party just a day from the writing of this post. Your participation = your decision. You'll love it here regardless. "Woah, Gabe, do you have a life? Do you ever leave your dorm?" I am never in my dorm unless I'm attending a floor meeting (where you and all of your neighbors chat and plan events together) or sleeping (where you close your eyes and dream of doing homework only to realize upon waking you still need to do your homework).
In my first week of Winter term, I watched the performance "And So We Walked" featuring Delanna Studi telling her story as a biracial Indigenous woman rewalking the Trail of Tears with her father, caught the tail-end of a Bachelor watch party two floors above my room, and accrued an addiction to King Arthur Flour's hot apple cider (just inside Baker-Berry library, you can find King Arthur Flour aka KAF and partake in their treasured beverages). That's a lot of action for Week One and I'm already enjoying myself more than Fall Term. I've already made plans to try out alpine skiing with one of my Native Pre-O mentors who's on the Club Ski Team, am thinking about spending a week at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge where Dartmouth actually owns Mt. Moosilauke, and will most definitely be trying to be more active on Dartmouth's political activism scene. If you want to have fun without going to frat parties, it's not only possible but made easy by the eternal omnipresence of activities on campus that always leave me wishing for more hours in the day.
Fun isn't constrained to a frat house basement, even if that's a space you decide to enjoy on campus, as do many of my friends. And I don't feel separated from them because we have different ideas of a night out, either. There's a concept I've become more familiar with on campus that's known as FOMO, or fear of missing out. Because of Snapchat stories, Instagram posts, and live-tweeting, I think we all brush shoulders with this idea that we're missing out on something overwhelmingly enjoyable just a few blocks away. In honesty, that feeling was strongest during the first few weeks when I was still exploring and before I discovered the confidence that arrives when you've found your niche. I think I've found it, and I couldn't be happier making my own Dartmouth happen. Will my opinions change? It's highly likely. And so will yours. Don't let the idea of something deter you from enjoying the bigger picture, and most definitely don't let the prevalence of something like Greek life distract you from the other quintessential elements and hallmarks of the American college experience. Raw, unbridled fun lives in every habitat, and it's always waiting to be found. I hope this guides your decision and gives you just a tiny bit clearer picture of this place I'm happy to call home. Aloha until next time.