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Dartmouth Traditions

Dartmouth traditions are something we hold dear at the College on the hill. It is because of our many traditions that you are able to create an instant connection to alumni and other students when you come across them in the 'outside world.'

The Alma Mater

After the completion of your DOC trip and Orientation, you will come to know all the lyrics for the Alma Mater, as well as all of the accompanying mini-choreography ('Lest the old traditions fail!), sound effects (The hill-winds in their veins), and class-year shout-outs (Their old undying faith). But, it wouldn't hurt to get a head start. For a detailed account of the origins and history of the Alma Mater, go here.

Dear old Dartmouth, give a rouse   
For the college on the hill!
For the Lone Pine above her,
And the loyal ones who love her,
Give a rouse, give a rouse, with a will!
For the sons of old Dartmouth,
For the daughters of Dartmouth.
Though 'round the girdled earth they roam,
Her spell on them remains;
They have the still North in their hearts,
The hill-winds in their veins,
And the granite of New Hampshire
In their muscles and their brains.

Dear old Dartmouth, set a watch
'Lest the old traditions fail!
Stand as sister stands by brother!
Dare a deed for the old Mother!
Greet the world, from the hills, with a hail!
For the sons of old Dartmouth,
For the daughters of Dartmouth.
Around the world they keep for her
Their old undying faith; (THIRTEEN)
They have the still North in their soul,
The hill-winds in their breath,
And the granite of New Hampshire
Is made part of them till death.

DOC Trips

You’ll realize that a humongous percentage of your fellow Dartmouth family has participated in the welcoming DOC first-year trip. When you meet people during your initial weeks at school, many conversations begin with “What trip were you on?” Most trips have reunions throughout the school year and you’ll enjoy running into your trippees around campus as your time at Dartmouth quickly slips by.

The Dartmouth Outing Club has the longest standing tradition of first-year outing trips and it is indeed a wonderful custom. You will come to realize that the welcome, acceptance, and bonding that occurs on a DOC trip typifies the full-spirited school unity that defines your Dartmouth experience. It’s a cyclical pattern of communal goodwill – older students welcoming new students who turn into older students who then welcome new students. The spirit that is Dartmouth is passed from generation to generation in this manner.

Homecoming Weekend

Homecoming is an amazing experience for first-year students. Festivities begin on Wednesday night and continue through until Sunday. There’s a football game and other athletic events. Dartmouth alumni come from far and wide. Your class will complete the building of the bonfire which will be lit the night of the First Year Sweep. The Sweep is nowhere near as frightening as its name denotes. While first-years at other campuses might suffer from all manners of hazing, Dartmouth’s Sweep is the event that demonstrates the excitement the Dartmouth community (current students and alumni) feel about the matriculation of a new class. During the Sweep, all the first-years from all over campus parade from dorm to dorm, collecting more members of their class. You walk through the streets of Hanover and up onto the Green in a huge GREEN mob. Alumni and upperclassmen line your route – cheering for their beloved school and welcoming you to your new community. Old alums unite with first year students as chants of Dartmouth resound all around campus. Everyone gathers around the bonfire and, as it’s lit, the first-years begin their tradition of running in a circular, yet somewhat harried, manner around the mighty flames. Prehistoric? Perhaps…but this is your official introduction to the school at large.

Below is a great video that gives you a little taste about what happens on the first night of homecoming.

Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival is a welcome break from the cold, grayness of winter term. Though slightly less energetic than Homecoming, students by no means lack in enthusiasm for partying. Additionally, everyone takes advantage of the respite in classes to enjoy the wintry playground of Hanover, New Hampshire. People show up at the Dartmouth Skiway daily for fun skiing, make the trek to Occom Pond for ice skating and the (in)famous polar bear swim (which entails jumping INTO the frozen pond), traverse campus even farther to the golf course for quality skiing/sledding, or assist in the construction of the themed Snow Sculpture on the Green. Fraternities participate in a competition for building the best snow sculpture, and further their enthusiasm by throwing great parties. The Student Activities Office usually schedules a concert and a plethora of other activities for the weekend. The main focus is to give your mind a break from the tedium of daily studying during the freezing cold, intense winter term. You also are encouraged to learn to love your surroundings as, after your years (and winters) spent at Dartmouth, you are expected to truly know what is meant in the Alma Mater when you sing:

They have the still North in their hearts,
The hill-winds in their veins,
And the granite of New Hampshire
In their muscles and their brains.

Below is a video of just one of Winter Carnival's traditions: The Carni Classic 3k Cross Country Skiing Race.

Green Key Weekend

After winter term (and the cold beginning to spring), you will be astounded by the number of students that actually attend your school, and flabbergasted further by the sheer number of people outside. Green key is a big party weekend in late spring, and is characterized by a very large number of people OUTSIDE enjoying the spring weather. The weekend starts out with a toga party, a block party on frat row, a lot of free food, bands, and beer. Some people literally start partying after fraternity meetings on Wednesday and don’t stop until Sunday. AD and Theta Delt both have lawn parties – Theta Delt’s is famous for its pig roast, AD’s for its band. The Student Activities Office has food offered on the Green, Student Assembly usually sponsors activities. Green key is basically an action-packed weekend that allows for some hard playing before the final studying push of spring term.


Fieldstock is a newer tradition, where each summer, students celebrate their sophomore summers by holding a carnival weekend on the Green, preceded by a week of summer Olympics. The highlight is the chariot race, where students race across the Green in homemade chariots, reliving an old Dartmouth tradition. Still in its infancy, Fieldstock definitely has some room for new ideas and traditions to form. Who knows, maybe you (during sophomore summer) will be the one to come up with the next polar bear swim!

While not unique to Fieldstock, students during the warmer months like to swim/jump into the river. Watch the video below:

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