That’s What Friends Are For
By Mackenzie Bohannon, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, June 29, 2012
Ask anyone on campus what their favorite part about Dartmouth is and at least nine times out of 10, the answer will not be the professors, the course offerings or the horrendous dining plans, but the friendships they’ve formed here.
And why not? They’ve been with us since the beginning, with some relationships forming as early as Dimensions.
They’ve sat with us and talked shit about our evil profs till the wee hours in Baker-Berry, got us through 6 a.m. practices, held back our hair on those rough nights and woke us up for our recruiting interviews.
Julie Ocampo ’14 said she places friendships among the most important aspects of her college experience.
“College is the last time in your life when you’re going to be surrounded by people your own age at all times — you gotta make the most of it,” she said.
Students’ opinions vary, however, when it comes to how unique this phenomenon is to Dartmouth.
“I don’t know if they’re unique relative to all other college students, but I think that kids at Dartmouth are definitely more invested in being Dartmouth students,” Ocampo said. “There’s more excitement about being at the school that you’re at, and there’s a lot of emphasis on making sure you do certain social things while you’re here, like the Ledyard Challenge or sophomore summer. People really want to remember Dartmouth and what their experiences are and, consequently, friendships, mean to them. At least more so than at a bigger, more anonymous school.”
Dartmouth is unique in its structure, which is designed so that interpersonal relationships are built and tested. The structure here “tries to make you really bond with the people who are there and tries to make them be your best friends for life,” Ocampo said.
Students accomplish this in a multitude of ways. Because our vacations don’t match up with those of most other colleges, making it nearly impossible to regularly see our high school friends at semester schools, this isolation facilitates increased interaction between Dartmouth students.
There’s also the D-Plan, the famed sophomore summer and the ever-intense focus on groups and clubs.
Tausif Noor ’14, who studied abroad during the Fall and Spring terms, said his friendships remained strong despite his time spent away from Hanover.
“Especially in a setting where you’re on the D-Plan and people are off and on and off, it’s definitely hard to maintain friendships,” he said. “You just have to find people who are on the same level so you can develop those meaningful friendships, because everyone has those superficial friends — the ones where every interaction goes no deeper than, ‘Oh hey, let’s pregame!’”
Noor also attributes his strong friendships to structural elements of Dartmouth.
“I think that here I’ve especially found I’m closest to the people who were on my freshman floor, despite the fact that I’ve been basically off for a whole year,” he said. “We’ve still maintained really strong friendships.”
Ocampo attributes some of those deeper friendships to her studies.
“I’m an engineering major and I definitely spend a lot of time with kids in my classes,” Ocampo said. “I’m also lucky in that most of them are really awesome and everyone works together on everything.”
This, ultimately, seems to be the best reflection of friendship at Dartmouth — to succeed, you have to bond.