Dartmouth A Lonely Crowd
Once upon a time many years ago, the good towns people of Hanover decided to impose a residence tax on the Dartmouth men who lived there nine months each year. The Dartmouth men responded by turning out en masse to a town meeting, waving signs of "Taxation Without Representation." Overwhelmingly, they voted that the town erect an eighteen-story city hall, one-foot square.
While the retaliation was unusual, the heralded Dartmouth unity was not. Needless to say, the combined effort succeeded, and neither a tax nor a city hall resulted. Now, at a time far removed from the legendary past, that Dartmouth spirit is beginning to diminish. No longer are the Men of the Green content to find their entertainment in fraternities or outing clubs.
Since the penertration of Henry Ford to even the wilds of New Hampshire, the Dartmouth man is no longer snow-bound. He is mobile, restless--eager to exchange the fraternal camaraderie of Hanover for the more appealing relationships of Smith or Mt. Holyoke. He is indeed, tragically eager at times: in the last year, six Dartmouth men have been killed in auto accidents on their way to or from girls' colleges.
Increased mobility, then, presents a somber problem to the Dartmouth officials. When a student was killed last spring, his demolished car was displayed on the college green. This was followed only by another fatal accident. So, despite mumblings from the student body, increasingly stringent auto regulations are being imposed on the 30 percent of the students who drive.
The Bowlers and the Chubbers
The difficulty of preserving the famed Dartmouth esprit d' corps is perhaps less immediately serious, but more difficult to resolve. Dartmouth officials hope that by making the school itself more appealing, they can keep students in Hanover--safely. To this end, President John Sloan Dickey began a $5,000,000 fund drive in 1946, which included among its objects the building of an elaborate student union. This would have featured bowling alleys, game rooms, and lounges; but the primary objection from a student view-point was succinctly expressed by a cynical undergraduate who asked; "It won't have any girls, will it?"
The cynicism, if not the reasoning, was evidently adopted by the alumni from whom funds were being solicited; they responded with less than 30 per cent of the goal before the plan was tabled, and the emphasis turned to scholarships. But the student union is still a goal of some Dartmouth administrators, who feel it should be a capstone to the general success of other Dartmouth activities.
The most popular of these is perhaps the most exaggerated one, for the "chubber" is almost a Dartmouth stereotype. No one seems to know the origin of the word "chubber". Evidently it originated in the '30s, but no one is yet sure whether it was intended as a derogatory, cynical, or laudatory term. One thing is certain: it refers to the Dartmouth outdoorsman. And that being the case chubber refers to almost 800 Dartmouth men, members of a vast organization known as the Dartmouth Outing club.
Including townspeople, the group numbers over 1100, obviously too large to fulfill the promise of "The Hanover Winter song":
"For here by the fire we defy frost and storm.
And the cup is at the lip is the pledge of fellowship.
Religion on Fraternity Row
So the chubbers, first organized as the DOC in 1909, have split into various sub-groups. The three major subsidiaries are Winter Sports, which sponsors the College ski team, Cabin and trail, which maintains a chain of mountain hostels, and a Carnival division. In addition, there are the Ledyard Canoe club, the Ski Patrol, the Mountaineering club, and Bait and Bullet.
The single division which has, perhaps the most significant influence on the college as a whole is the Carnival group. It is responsible for planning and administering the school's fabled Winter Carnival, held annually in the first week of February, after winter finals. While the fraternity revelry and other unrehearsed entertainments are not problems for the Division, the 35-foot snow statue in the "center-of-campus", events like Outdoor Evening, and the coronation of the Carnival Queen pose definite planning difficulties. Winter Carnival, however, is more than the Dartmouth equivalent of the Harvard-Yale weekend, says the DOC. "It means the realization that now you are a part of the production which is Dartmouth as it really is."
Be that as it may, the College administration encourages more in the way of activities than slalom-skiing and salmon fishing. President Dickey believes that "it is not the business of the college to intrude on the established religious beliefs of any person but it is the duty of the College to the moral and spiritual ingredients of a good life."
Dartmouth accomplishes this aim, in great part, through the activity of the Dartmouth Christian Union, large enough to serve as the social service center for the entire Hanover community, and high enough in prestige to draws the captain of the football team to its presidency.
Supported entirely by the College, the DCU occupies an entire wing of College Hall, with office, meeting and counseling rooms, a lounge, and a work and supply room. It is directed by an ordained clergyman, the Graduate Secretary. In spite of the name, Jewish students at Dartmouth participate actively on an equal basis with the Christians in committees, councils, and other projects. Only for worship do they separate.
Religion itself is experiencing a revival of interest at Dartmouth. Several plans, similar to those at Harvard, call for election of a college preacher-professor and renovation of the antiquated Rollins chapel. All these plans, naturally, are supported whole-heartedly by Dickey: "There is the opportunity now as there always has been in the independent liberal arts college for men of sincerity to consider freely all subjects of human concern, and there must be room in this consideration for those who seek growth and strength through honest reexamination either of their beliefs or of their doubts."
While the undergraduates seem to take their religion seriously, they find a social balance in the fairly extensive Dartmouth fraternity system. The red brick and white frame fraternity houses which stand in a semi-circle around the dormitories and class buildings are the centers of both undergraduate life and discussion.
A Code for the Greeks
They are thus a vital part of Dartmouth, for almost 75 percent of the eligible upper three classes belong to them. Relative equality between Greeks and independents is achieved, however, by a rule which allows only 18 of the 65 men in each of the 23 houses to live in. Most of the membership, consequently, continues to live in the college dormitories. Neither are the fraternities allowed to serve meals, so that the members eat either in Thayer hall, where all freshmen are required to take their meals, or in the various restaurants in Hanover and White River Junction.
But in spite of these restrictions, the fraternity is still the focus of undergraduate life. It is a place to relax to entertain dates, to talk, and to engage in the drinking for which Dartmouth is famed. This too is limited by the college, however, despite its support of the fraternity system. Drinking is allowed only from noon until 1 a.m. and women are permitted in the first floors of the houses daily until 11 p.m. and until 1 a.m. Saturdays.
But if the Dartmouth host becomes so entangled in conversation with his date that he forgets the deadline, he must pay his penalty. (A charge of $10 is made for the first hour past curfew, and $1 for each additional hour.)
Because of the importance of the fraternities to college life, the administration is on constant guard lest national affiliations force unwelcome practices on the Hanover scene. During the past year, Dartmouth--like many fraternity schools-- has been involved in a controversial fraternity segregation debate.
Last spring, after months of discussion, the undergraduates voted to require fraternities to do away with any "written or unwritten" discriminatory clauses. As Dean Eugene Hotchkiss, Jr., admits, the non-discriminatory rule' will be almost impossible to enforce, especially in the case of unwritten rules. That discrimination may well continue under such a guise is indicated by the fact that a majority of only four students passed the non-discriminatory referendum.
Six of the Dartmouth fraternities, in accordance with national constitutions, still contain discriminatory clause, primarily against Negroes. Any who refuse to do away with such clauses by 1960 will be forced off the Interfraternity Council, and will consequently lose rushing privileges.
Unlike most schools with fraternities there is no enduring "most popular" or "most prestige giving" house. The fraternities fluctuate widely in popularity from year to year, and most maintain a varied membership, although there are two predominantly Jewish houses.
Although the main argument for removal of the discriminatory classes has been that Dartmouth men should "free themselves from outside influences," many members are wary that the anti-clause campaign has been only the first stop in a college attempt to localize the houses. Three of the fraternities are now local groups with no national ties.
Housing in the dormitories varies widely from dormitory to dormitory. Some buildings, like Yard dorms, offer only communal bathrooms; others have private baths, Generally, they are functional Georgian buildings, without dining or library facilities.
One housing experiment, patterned roughly after a Harvard House, is being conducted this year in Cutter Hall. It has a resident tutor, a large, comfortable common room and the very beginnings of a library. Dartmouth, however, has no plans for conversion to anything resembling the House plan, for the fraternities offer the social facilities of a House, and the Hanover restaurants are nearby.
The Great White Father
Regardless of housing differences, or lack of anything resembling House libraries at Harvard the Dartmouth undergraduate boasts an impressive center of learning in the imposing Baker library. Part of his regard for the academic center dates back to a day in 1932 when Jose Clements Orozco, world famous Mexican muralist pushed through the crowd in the basement of the library and dramatically climbed the scaffolding.
After months of preparations, he was finally ready to begin his series of murals for the library. Prominent visitors, alumni, officials students, and townspeople watched attentively from the long basement study hall. Orozco carefully prepared his colors and began to paint. But the deft strokes of the master muralist began to trickle down the smooth plaster wall. The crowd snickered; Orozco fumed.
After the onlookers dispersed, Orozco discovered the source of his embarrassment. A few days earlier, the University's plasterer--eager to contribute his best toward the success of the mural--had installed what be described as "the best water-proof plaster in the world."
Eventually Orozco got his paint-holding plaster and by 1934 Dartmouth got its far-famed murals. These freezes, which cover over three thousand square feet of wall space, depict the Aztec legend of Quetsalcoti, the Great White Father both modern counterpart.
Persian Rugs, Public Affairs
The modernity of these murals forms a singular contrast to the white-toward Georgian beauty of the library, which Dartmouth candidly claims is the largest college library in the world, with 750,000 volumes. Rising Lowell-House-like above the "green", Baker Library houses a variety of treasured, including such outstanding author collections as those of Robert Burns, George Ticknor, Stephen crane, and Robert Frost and such regional libraries as the Stefannson Collection on polar areas. Since Dartmouth prides itself on a "teaching" faculty, most professors there do comparatively little research. Thus, the library is considered easily adequate for their needs as well as those of the undergraduates.
The structure also houses a magnificent main hall, checkered with marble flooring and dark chestnut-finished catalogs, the "tower room," a super-sized. House-library type room with ever stuffed chairs, paneled bookcases and alcoves, and Persian rugs. In the basement, too, there is the Public Affairs laboratory of the Great Issues course.
Lest the Dartmouth men are left so fascinated with narrow academic interests or intoxicated with the diversions of small-town, small-campus life that they fall to appreciate the perplexities of modern living all seniors are required to take the course in Great Issues.
Apparently operating on the philosophy that a Dartmouth man is known by the dilemmas he keeps, the "G. I." administration tosses a different human quandry at the seniors each week. This lightning survey of the world's problems is designed to "provide a common intellectual experience for all men in their last year of college to bridge the gap between formal classroom instruction and the average adult experience in learning; and to encourage in seniors a sense of public purpose and a heightened public-mindedness."
Each Thursday morning a member of the Dartmouth faculty introduced a significant current topic--from foreign affairs to existentialism--to the assembled seniors. The following Monday as outstanding guest lecturer develops the theme and the next morning conducts a discussion on his lecture. This question thus polished off a new dilemma is introduced the following Thursday and the cycle begins again.
Perhaps the most telling criticism of the plan and indeed, of the Dartmouth intellectual atmosphere, comes unwittingly from the Great Issues administrations themselves. In a mimeographed pamphlet the committee writes; "During the last two years of college the student body tends to be split into groups and as often as not choosing electives to augment rather than supplement their major work. This results in the failure of many students to maintain a broad awareness of the basic issues of our times which they will soon have to confront as active citizens."
"Majors is one said," the pamphlet continues, "have been able to speak together in their own particular jargon, but beyond the weather six, and athletic and social topics, the class as a whole has been without a community of intellectual interest or purpose."
Indeed, if Dartmouth men by the beginning of their senior year, have nothing more in common to discuss than Hanover weather, and last Saturday's football game, it is questionable whether a weekly discussion of a current issue will instill profound thought into such apparent intellectual douldrms.
Dartmouth sincerely tries, however, and assigns such reading for the course as a daily perusal of the New York Times. Infrequently, especially when the course turns to philosophy, literature, of the arts, an occasional book or magazine will be assigned in addition.
The Public Affairs laboratory operated by the course, is little more than la replica of a periodical room in any good library, with the addition of staff offices and exhibits which change weekly according in the topic under discussion. Recently, when Mass Media was being discussed, sections of the Times were tacked on bulletin boards around the room. Each sections was marked in heavy crayon with such advice as "The sports section: for leisure and relaxation," or "Financial section: we don't have to tell an Economics major that this is a valuable part of the paper."
A Turbulent Transition
There is no question that Dartmouth brings important men to speak to its seniors. Speakers who have appeared in the past few years include such named as Dean Acheson, Sherman Adams, Crane Brinton, Dean Bundy, President-Emeritus Conant, Raphael Demos, Irwin Edman, Erich Fromm, Wilbur K. Jordan, Owen Lattimore, Archibald MacLeish, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Paul J. Tillich.
But there is some doubt whether a man, regardless of his competency or insights, can avoid being super field if he gives only one lecture on his field. How can the student avoid touching only very high points of a problem or a philosophy by such hasty and touchy sampling? Dartmouth's Great Issues course, admittedly still in the experimental stage, must fact this sort of probing. Because it is probably fair to say that the Dartmouth student generally seems to be less critical than his Cambridge counterpart, it is possible that he benefits more from this sort of course.
The Dartmouth course does achieve a very significant goal: every student, regardless of his interests, is thoroughly subjected to current affairs, even if he does not always appreciate their deepest significance. Not everyone agrees exactly as to what these affairs should be. Most concur, however, that a great issue is a problem which has a "moral core as well as historical depth, meaning for the present land a projection into the future.
'What it Was About'
As well as offering this form of transition to the outside world for seniors this year Dartmouth has established a common course for freshmen, "The Individual land the College," designed to help incoming students make the sudden transition to academic life.
All colleges face the problem of awakening their bewildered, often unsophisticated freshmen to academic life. Harvard's solution of busy professors or inexperienced graduate student advisers is not wholly satisfactory. But whether or not Dartmouth's guidance program is more desirable is a question with which college administrators must soon deal.
The freshman course is designed ostensibly so students cannot say "I wasted the first year or so of my college erudition before I really began to understand what it was all about."
But it is less of an outline of the purposes of liberal education than it is a discussion of social adjustment under pressure.
The course opens with a series of five lectures on the history, traditions, and functioning of Dartmouth; this is followed by a one-lecture discussion of the intellectual life, its motivations, and rewards. Two lectures on reading land study habits follow succeded by several talks on the relationships of diseases and human physical breakdown to emotional and academic pressure on the body.
Next may come a discussion of the advantage of planning one's life career while still in college, followed by a review of the religious life in college and talks about social responsibility.
The most striking thing about this program is the lack of importance of the liberal education, intellectual experience, per se. More stress is put on the practical aspects of college success which are important enough, but which are already prompting Dartmouth undergraduates including freshmen to wonder whether or not the college has missed a few things in its experiment. They wonder whether the difference in capabilities and background of students has not been overlooked. It is questionable whether all Dartmouth freshmen need equal amounts of instruction in reading and study habits and in health education.
If Dartmouth is to continue its common freshman course many students feel that the instruction in reading and medical problems should be left to those who need it. Instead, it should provide booklets, newspaper writer-ups and optional lectures on Dartmouth history and tradition, and spend more course time on the traditionalism of liberal education.
The Wearing of the Green
At present certainly, rather than stimulating individuality, the freshman course seems to be a mere mechanism for furthering the administration's program of keeping Dartmouth men interested in Dartmouth tradition, informality and intimacy.
While green sweaters and chinos seem to be the clothing standard at Hanover, there are places where students wear coats and ties. This is a paradox. While being Collegiate seems to be the intellectual standard at Dartmouth, there are places where students wear sober expressions. This is even more of a paradox.
For while Dartmouth proudly proclaims that one of its distinguishing--and distinguished--features is that "it is predominantly an undergraduate college and not a university," there are three graduate schools on the Hanover campus.
The Tuck School of Business Administrations, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Dartmouth Medical School all have a straight and narrow row to hoe. While they are independent of the College, they are all guided, as Karl A. Hill, Assistant Dean of Tuck puts it, "by a full awareness of our responsibilities to