Having arrived at Dartmouth as a 21-year-old freshman after waiting two years before coming to college, I can say that I have a somewhat unique perspective on college life. I’ve experienced the social life at multiple public universities, and so I came to Dartmouth with the opinion that college was all about house parties with a relatively small group of friends and maybe some studying here and there.
A month before Fall term, I discovered that Dartmouth’s social life revolved around fraternities. I thought about the stereotypical “frat bro” on TV and in movies, and all I knew was that I didn’t want to become that kind of person. It seemed like I was going to be in for a rough four years socially, but I thought it would be worth it for a Dartmouth education. After my first night on campus, however, I realized that my expectations of Dartmouth’s social life had been completely wrong. The open and inclusive atmosphere of fraternity parties at Dartmouth is, as far as I have experienced, unique. The College’s social scene is warm, exciting and most importantly open: a place to meet people, have a social life and make new friends. Here, you are invited to fraternity parties every night how could you not like that? I invite anyone to compare that to the social scene at other schools. Dartmouth’s social scene is special, inviting and something to be celebrated.
Looking at Andrew Lohse’s accusations, which bash Dartmouth’s Greek culture and claim hazing is propagating a culture of mistreatment, I could not be more shocked. As a freshman, I do not claim to know what goes on behind fraternity doors at meetings or during pledge term, but I do see the positive elements of fraternity culture. Lohse speaks about brotherhood in a mocking way, but when I look at fraternities, I see a brotherhood in the purest sense: members coming together as a result of their shared experiences.
The importance of brotherhood is often underestimated in the Dartmouth community. Look at the statistics about diversity at Dartmouth on the College’s admissions page. We have a student from every state and so many different countries. I believe that the Greek system is the catalysts that transforms this large and diverse body into such a tight-knit community. Dartmouth is a place where people from different backgrounds can come together and become friends or brothers or sisters. I’m sure I’m not the only one who met many of his friends in the basement of a frat while playing pong.
I feel that my college experience has already benefited from being around this brotherhood and, regardless of Lohse’s statements, I will rush next fall. While pledging, I am willing to participate in the events that build the brotherhood I feel is so important. My understanding is that no pledge is ever forced to do something with which he is not comfortable. If it turns out that my brothers or friends require me to swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, then I may reconsider having them as my brothers or my friends.
Eventually, it will be my turn to build the brotherhood that creates a strong community, and I will do so with accountability a part of fraternity culture that I admit is currently lacking. There seems to be an idea that just because one pledge class was forced to do something, that every successive pledge class should be forced to do the same. However, these are not the only traditions that build brotherhood. True brotherhood can be built by playing sports together or just by hanging out and having fun. I am willing to do things that make me feel uncomfortable as a pledge, but I will not necessarily subject future pledges to the same trials. All it takes to change the system is for members to evaluate themselves and their values and not cross their own moral boundaries when thinking of pledge tasks.
I hope that Dartmouth will not rid the campus of Greek life but rather will encourage accountability and morality within its student body. Allow the students to fix the system and the brotherhoods and sisterhoods will only grow tighter. We are a community of extremely gifted individuals, and we can surely find a solution without destroying the foundation on which we are built.