Tales from the basement
By Jamila Ma , The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, July 30, 2010
Anyone who’s stood too close to a fraternity can tell you: basements are where hygiene goes to die.
“On my tour, a dad asked why the frats smelled so bad. The tour guide’s response was ‘I think it’s part of hazing — I heard they have to slaughter livestock and keep them in the closets in the basements,’” Haley Carstensen ’12 said.
Dead animals in the basement? I’d believe it. But how unclean are we talking about, really? AD brothers, you tell me.
“I like peeing in the basement,” one AD ’12 said. “It’s fun to size each other up.”
Good for them, bad for my olfactory organs.
While there isn’t a single fraternity on campus with the audacity to call itself sanitary, there are certainly some basements that are particularly offensive.
Pledge missions especially tend to have a serious “ick” factor. Some fraternities request that their pledges wear the same shirt or sweatshirt every day all term (by choice, of course) while other missions involve eating a variety of foods that make day-old sushi look delicious — warm boot anyone? Worse still are the tasks that are unfit to print.
While (most) bros seem to love their grimy basements, girls grudgingly accept the conditions. We’ve learned not to wear nice shoes to the basement — “frat flats” don’t mean Tory Burches, unless you want them covered in a mysterious grey slime that personally I’d rather never see outside a frat.
For whatever reason, the brothers don’t seem to mind the lack of hygiene too much. Or perhaps they’ve just learned to love the unavoidable.
“We like our basement dirty because we develop great immune systems — cleaning the basement only serves to detract from this endeavor,” Mike Hauge ’12, a member of AD, said. “No one wants to hang out with the sick kid all the time, think about it.”
And then there’s the credo many Greeks live by — “boot and rally.” Sadly, however, that motto does not always mean “boot and rally and brush your teeth.”
This brings us to another issue — pong in the basement. Whether you’ve had a little too much and are starting to lose your serve, or you’re actually just that bad at pong, we’ve all faced the daunting task of fetching a stray ball from a puddle of mysterious frat sludge deep in the heart of the basement.
Would you lick the floor? No? Because that’s essentially what you’re doing when that ball sinks in your cup. No worries, though — you’ll graduate with an army of white blood cells strong enough to fight a staph infection. And since you’ve probably gotten mono already, you’ll never have to worry about it again!
“I like to play pong barefoot,” one Psi U ’12 said. “You’re way more agile and your immune system has to be better off in the long run.”
For those of us less certain about the health benefits of frat grime, some basement-goers have developed alternative methods of keeping clean.
“I read on Wikipedia that beer kills all germs so I just wash anything that hits the floor in beer,” Brian O’Toole ’12 said. “And according to Michael Scott from ‘The Office,’ everything on Wikipedia is true because anybody can write anything they want.”
Truly words to live by, ladies and gentlemen.
In the end, there are certainly cleaner places on earth than a fraternity basement, but they’re not nearly as fun. I guess I’ll accept the lack of hygiene in the basement, as long as you promise to shower before sitting next to me in our 10A.