Surrogate Parents

For many students, transitioning to college and separating from one's parents spells independence for the first time. It's a sweet liberation for some. But for many others, parents are such treasured resources that the sudden parting leaves many 18-year-olds feeling as though they have no place to turn. Dartmouth has a funny way of filling this gap with people, places and things that snugly fit the roles our parents used to play, however imperfectly. Here are a few of them.


The face of law and order changed when you went to college, and we’re not talking about Christopher Meloni’s replacement on “SVU.” Just when you thought you could get away from finger-wagging reprimands and time-outs, Safety and Security quickly stepped in to fulfill the role of disciplinarian. From boisterously pre-gaming freshmen to regulation-breaking frat stars, no one is safe from Safety & Security. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doles out more citations than an MLA handbook. We’ll admit, maybe your parents didn’t wear uniforms when they asked you to turn your music down. And maybe they never broke up a party because they found an unregistered keg. But the principle is just the same: punishment, then and now, is “for your own good.”


A day in college goes by too quickly for a home-cooked meal. But fear not, for we have Dave. Any frequent diner at Collis Cafe recognizes his smiling face behind the stir-fry station, tossing pans of steaming veggies as they simmer in aromatic sauces or fattening up an omelet with your favorite fillings. Your meal also comes with a free and genuine inquiry about your day and a cheerful goodbye as you head out. Dave certainly has a knack for bringing the warmth of your mom’s kitchen to DDS.


Our hats go off to the modern banking system, which ensures that our spending habits are no longer defined by outstretched palms and pleading eyes. Rather, debit cards provide all the funding we need in a pocket-sized plastic rectangle. While we do miss the warm touch of cash and the feeling of triumph as a bill passes from father to child, we do not miss the incessant questioning as to how last week’s allowance was depleted so quickly. For that, we have Bank of America online alerts.


Beginning at a very young age, our parents taught us to always be respectful, kind and hardworking. It is only through continuous reinforcement that these principles become habits. Team captains can provide such reinforcement in college. With strong personalities that propel them to positions of leadership, team captains serve as role models for younger athletes, encouraging cooperation, fairness and mutual respect. We are never too old to be reminded of the Golden Rule.


Our parents would not be pleased if they knew that beer fills a void that they left behind. But let’s face it after a few cans of Keystone, who needs mom to tell you that your dress doesn’t make you look fat or to reassure you that you have a chance with that really pretty girl? That being said, turning to alcohol in times of trouble is not a healthy practice. For your dignity’s sake, sip responsibly.

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