I sit here writing in retrospect about my Fall term, which was only a short 10 weeks but felt much longer. Indeed, the last few weeks were quite a drag, as everyone was getting ready for the much-anticipated Winter Break yet we still had finals to go.
It’s an interesting dynamic at Dartmouth, one which I see the advantages of now. Colby’s Thanksgiving break coincides with the conclusion of our term, which means at Dartmouth we get an extended break. I think this makes sense because at Colby, after Thanksgiving, you only have one week of classes left before exams anyway. Also, Fall Break and Thanksgiving break are somewhat too close together. In terms of flow, I think Dartmouth’s timing makes more sense.
However, I think that the 10-week terms are indeed quite rushed, and even though I learned a lot throughout the term, I wish at times I had more time to meditate over what I’d just learned.
I guess I’ll talk briefly about frats and sororities here.
I’m not involved in Greek Life, and nor do I want to be. But, the matter of fact is that 70% of students on campus are involved with Greek Life, making it very normal to see people wearing sweaters emblazoned with their Greek house letters. Initially, this was quite a shock to me, because Greek Life is heavily stigmatized at Colby. Initially, I associated people in frats with the stereotypical “macho” male, as portrayed on movies and such. However, people at Dartmouth have a wide range of interests and personalities, and so it became obvious that frats and sororities also had different characteristics. Hazing definitely exists, but not all frats do it. I would guess it’s in the minority – and even the frats that do haze, it’s not nearly as bad as you see in some state schools. Again, it’s hard to know without being involved. Sororities, as far as I know from talking to friends in them, are simply meant for bonding and sisterhood.
In terms of the exclusivity that Greek life creates – yes, to some extent Greek life means you hang out with people in the same frat/sorority. That’s the point of them. However, most people here, whether they are involved in Greek Life or not, are quite open, and will even invite you over to their house – not because that means you’re one of them or anything, but simply because that’s where they live.
All in all, I think Greek life at Dartmouth isn’t as bad as I thought. It’s simply a way to bolster friendships, not to signal status (as in some state universities). Colby basically has psuedo-frats in the form of sports teams, anyway.