As if it were some sort of celebrity, Dartmouth has been the favorite subject of a large amount of gossip produced and regurgitated by our favorite media outlets. While we remain an esteemed institution, our most esteemed critics eagerly produce a superficial, perverse image instead, with a sort of tenacity that insists that our misgivings are our primary features. Though our research, academics and humanitarian activities give way to much content, our benefit and good will are of no interest to The Huffington Post, Gawker or any such outlet that celebrates not progress, but shame. As we are all entitled to our own opinions, I cannot question the authority by which our most esteemed critics draw their articles. However, the gaze of scrutiny should not be dodged we must try to understand its reason. It seems as if our reality diverges from the behavioral expectations that many hold, including those within the media, some parents and alumni, and those who have no affiliation with the College but criticize it anyway. I have come to conclude that these expectations are assuming and misguided, and we should pay them no heed.
I do not mean to address the gross and vile behaviors of a handful of individuals who perpetrate sexual assault and extreme hazing, as these transgressions are inexcusable and unacceptable. I mean to address the general confusion and disappointment that every Dartmouth student meets at some point or another following the mere mention of their current educational institution. Questions and jokes about Greek life and drinking arrive foremost, before talk of study, research and education. It is as if this duality just cannot exist. To be an Ivy League institution and possess a culturally dominant, inclusive and wet social scene seems absolutely preposterous, as if our rigorous academics simply must preclude any semblance of a party school.
My response to the general uproar is this: At Dartmouth, we are all normal people. We have the same inclination as most folks to work, relax, have fun and party. We face the same drama and cope with the same stress as all college students do. We are not perfect, far from it in fact, but each of us makes the best of what we have. Many choose to be involved in the Greek system and, by my observation, the overwhelming majority of these folks are excellent people. A current prospective applicant, after a night in Hanover, expressed to me how awesome it was that the extraordinary girl he met studying away in Baker-Berry library was playing pong several hours later. And to that observation, I thought, isn't that most of us?
To do all this and be successful is the paradigm of Dartmouth. "Work hard, play harder" are the words of advice I heard most as a prospective student myself. Now, living amongst four thousand undergraduate peers, I can definitively say it is possible, and even suggest that it is a fantastic mode of living. The general shaming from our most esteemed critics seems to arrive from a desperate desire for sensationalism, trying to evade the fact that we are successful and pleased in our endeavors, both in work and play. The criticisms from parents arrive from their succumbing to sensationalized media, mistakenly fearing for the worst for their children. And the criticisms from alumni, if I had to guess, arrive from a fear for their beloved Dartmouth, that it will fall to the vices mechanically repeated by our most esteemed critics.
To all of these concerned parties, I urge discussion with a Dartmouth student as soon as possible. I can assure you that the conversation will dispel any negative generalizations placed upon us as individuals who comprise the school. Do not be mistaken; there is without a doubt plenty of improvement that Dartmouth could see to. But let it remain that we students on the whole are passionate pursuers of both knowledge and happiness, and that our pursuit is our greatest pride. We merely stand amused by our most esteemed critics and their sensationalist schemes.