One of the biggest venues of social life during the weekends is fraternities. Although there are many other activities going on (performances, movies, programming board events, lectures, DOC trips) many students spend time in fraternity basements and at dance parties.
Navigating Webster Ave.
So what exactly goes on in frats?
Since one of the main “free-time” activities is going out to the frats, the brothers at various houses seem to embrace their responsibility of providing entertainment. There is usually communication so as to ensure that one dance party occurs at some point every weekend, some of which are themed (like Sigma Nu’s Eighties, Tabard’s Disco Inferno, or Alpha Chi’s Beach Party). Occasionally bands are invited to come play (AD and Psi U are frequently known for hosting live bands). Frats also sponsor events by opening up their space to be used for guest lecturers, performances by a capella groups, and performances by dance groups (like Sheba). At some point in the year, most frats have a semi-formal and/or formal, during which people dress nicely and are taken in buses to a pre-designated dinner/dance location. Semi-formals/formals are activities that provide a definitive break in the normal Dartmouth routine. Highly organized events, however, are by no means the most frequented frat activity. For the most part, playing pong and just hanging out with friends are the main attractions.
So what do I do?
For many, the first step into a frat can be slightly intimidating. What door do you go in? What do you do once you’re in? Will anyone care that you’re a first-year? Ahhhhhhhh…..Fret not, however…it’s supposed to be a chill activity…not one resulting in stress!
The best advice is to go out with a relatively small group of people (2-4 is probably a good number). Avoid at all costs the “Shmob” mentality. Go up to the front door, and give the handle a pull. It should be unlocked. If it’s not, it’s probably locked for a reason. If it’s a big night, or a registered party, there may be a brother standing guard to check your Dartmouth ID to ascertain a) whether or not you are indeed a Dartmouth student (not a Hanover High kid) and b) whether or not you’re 21 (in which case you’d be given a bracelet). Once you’re in, however, the best bet is to head for the basement. The basement is where just about everyone hangs out, unless you’ve been invited by someone to hang out in one of the rooms upstairs. You’ll find that people are very welcoming of first year students – don’t be ashamed to answer that you’re an “Eleven” when someone asks your year. If you’ve made it safely to the basement, talk to people around you, and observe the nearby pong game (but be sure to stay out of the way). You may even be able to get someone to teach you to play the game that all Dartmouth students seem to love. If you get tired of the particular location you’ve frequented, check out another house, following the above mentioned steps. If you decide frat-hopping is not exactly you’re thing, you’ll find that there are many other activities in which you can partake in the immediate area. Do what feels right to you.
So what about rush?
You may be in contact with some of your friends at other schools who, in the fall of their first year, are in the process of rush/pledging. Dartmouth switches things up a bit, by stating that rush has to occur during fall of your sophomore year. This ensures that the student has a pretty clear idea of whether they want to be involved in the Greek system, and which fraternity/sorority they might want to be a part of. You’ll notice crazy things happening during winter and spring terms for students making their way through their pledge term, but for you, rush is a phenomenon distant in the future.
So that’s basically the frat approach. There are also co-ed fraternities and several sororities, but it’s the frats around which the social life usually revolves. You may find yourself hanging out at some of the co-eds, or attending a dance at a sorority. During your first year, you should definitely make an effort to meet people from all of the Greek groups to see if it’s something you may be interested in pursuing.
Besides holding events, parties, and pong, Greek organizations also focus on philanthropy, holding charity events, raising money, and helping out with the Upper Valley community. For many upperclass students who join Greek houses, the organizations can become a cornerstone of their Dartmouth experience, where they can build lifelong friendships, and personal and academic support.
In addition to these activities, the Greek community also provides an outlet, via the fraternities houses, for socializing on weekends. Although there are many other activities going on (performances, movies, the Lone Pine Tavern,) the fraternity houses do tend to be one of the larger venues for social events on the weekends.
Below are the 15 fraternities recognized by Dartmouth College. The names in parenthesis are what each is commonly called on campus:
Alpha Chi Alpha
Alpha Delta (AD)
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Bones Gate (BG)
Beta Theta Pi (Beta)
Chi Gamma Epsilon (Chi Gam)
Chi Heorot (Heorot)
Gamma Delta Chi (Gamma Delt or GDX)
La Unidad Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc.
Kappa Kappa Kappa (Tri-Kap)
Phi Delta Alpha (Phi Delt)
Psi Upsilon (Psi U)
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE)
Sigma Nu (Sig Nu)
Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep)
Theta Delta Chi (Theta Delt)
Zeta Psi (Zete)
Below are the 8 sororities recognized by Dartmouth College. The names in parenthesis are what each is commonly called on campus.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Alpha Xi Delta (AZD)
Delta Delta Delta (Tri-Delt)
Epsilon Kappa Theta (Theta)
Kappa Delta Epsilon (KDE)
Kappa Kappa Gamma (Kappa)
Sigma Delta (Sigma Delt)
Below are the 3 co-ed fraternities recognized by Dartmouth College.
Non-Greek Undergraduate Societies
Below are the 2 undergraduate societies recognized by Dartmouth College. The undergraduate societies are non-greek, and have open membership. Although they are not greek, they are included here as they function in a similar way as a social space for the campus.