Greek Life at Dartmouth

Hi,

Coul anyone kindly explain duirng the college selection process how much attention do we have to pay considering the fact that over 50% of the college students are part of “Greek Life”. It’s fist time I am hearing about it. I would highly appreciate if you can explain the pros and cons of this.

Hi there! I can speak to those. Disclaimer I’m a current Dartmouth sophomore who hasn’t actually rushed yet but I plan on going through the virtual rush process this year.

I certainly think you should consider the prevelance of Greek Life in your decision. Like it or not Greek Life has a large impact on campus and if you abhor the idea of it you might not like Dartmouth. That’s not to say Greek Life is the only social opporunity or that you even have to be affiliated; the DOC, extracurriculars, LLCs etc offer other social outlets and for many Greek Life is just one part of their social experience, but even unaffiliated students tend to enjoy spending time at frats casually from what I’ve seen. I’ll do a Pro-Con list like you asked

Pro:

  • Creates a social scene in the woods. Dartmouth is isolated and hanover lacks night life, the frats step in to create a robust social scene. Different frats have different vibes, but they often throw different types of themed parties or concerrts or casual pong and dancing.
  • Very Open. Unlike other schools I've been to you don't have to worry about gender ratio or exlusivity. If a frat is open that night they'll let you in 99% of the time unless it's at capacity.
  • Opporunities for professional and personal development. Frats create netoworks for job and internship opporunities, and provide a strong sense of belonging. They build close relations between brothers/sisters and often do activities and trips together.

Con:

  • Some frats feel very wealthy, white, athlete-dominated, and heteronormative. I still feel the dominance of the wealthy eastern prep school stereotype within the brotherhoods of some frats and believe they have work to do to create more inclusive memberships. This also extends to getting in to formals and semis to an extent.
  • Drinking culture. Depends on you if this is a pro or con but alcohol dominates the frat scene from parties to pong. Nobody pressures you to drink (saves the frat money if you don't) but you'll be in the minority.
  • Hierarchal. For a certain percent of the student body, frat/sorority hierarchy, ranking, popularity matters. It can create a little snobbery and is inducive to social climbing. If you're confident in what you like and have good friends not an issue, but it's easy to get wrapped up in.

Overall I love Dartmouth for MANY reasons and I overall enjoy Greek Life. I hope i helped and feel free to reach out if you want clarification or have more questions :slight_smile:

Thank you for this thoughtful answer. Do you know how Greek Life affects housing. Do most kids move into frats/sororities? What happens to upperclassmen who don’t?

Greek life at Dartmouth is awful. Check out my post history for some more info. Most people don’t move into their Greek house as an upperclassmen and instead live in on-campus dorms or off-campus housing. A lot of Greek houses only have spaces for their exec board and not too many others (eg: sororities usually have 15-25 beds for 150 members)

In place of “[a] lot of Greek houses,” @“leave dartmouth” should have said “all Greek houses.” Each fraternity and sorority has far more members than rooms in the house. They are gathering places – gasp, sometimes for studying – and party places, not primary residences. Honestly, I never expected my Berkeley D to join a sorority, but she did and enjoyed it. It was not a big part of her Dartmouth experience, but it was a part of it. Some people hate it [see above]; others love it; I;m willing to bet that most accept it for it is [see response #1].

I’ve recently had the opportunity to compare Greek life at Dartmouth vs other schools (i.e. Vanderbilt, U of South Carolina, etc.) and there are some pretty significant differences. Unlike many schools, Dartmouth students don’t rush until Sophomore year. Most parties at frats/sororities are open to everyone with a Dartmouth id - you don’t need a specific invitation and, unlike some places, unaffiliated guys can go to frat parties.

In addition, many of the houses offer financial aid for membership dues.

Housing within the houses is usually based on a point system where points are awarded based on your contribution to the house. For example, President gets x points, House Manager gets x points, etc. During Sophomore summer, sophomores have the opportunity to hold leadership positions and often that translates into leadership roles in Junior year. Roles are held based on the calendar year so you’re elected in Jan and hold that role until Dec. Also, rooms within the house are for 1-3 people, not the barrack like dorm rooms at some other schools.

Freshman and sophomores generally live in dorms, Juniors can live in the house or dorms and Seniors live off campus. Dartmouth Financial Aid can be applied to any of these options.

This Rolling Stone article discusses potential cons of Dartmouth’s Greek life: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/confessions-of-an-ivy-league-frat-boy-inside-dartmouths-hazing-abuses-238604/.

The Rolling Stone article was written by someone who did not understand Dartmouth. I have posted this before. I will post the same thing every time this disgusting article is referred to. OP, please pay attention to the posts from people who have actually been to or are at the college – not this hack job.

@merc81 that article is completely untrue as multiple students have spoken up about, including this article in the wall street journal by an alum who, unlike Lohse the author of the rolling stone piece, didn’t have to take a “voluntary” leave of absence from the college for multiple offenses of our code of conduct:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/book-review-confessions-of-an-ivy-league-frat-boy-by-andrew-lohse-1408742685

The wsj article pretty much sums up what most students think about the rolling stone piece.

How would you rate the housing in Dartmouth, does the popularity of Greek houses cause a lot of kids to live their

Very few people live in the houses. The fraternities and sororities has far more members than rooms. The rooms are generally occupied by officers and others doing work of some sort for the group. The dorms vary. D moved off campus her third year and preferred it, although it was annoying that she still had to buy a meal plan. Not sure if that is still the rule, although I expect it is, since the meal plan is a definite money tree for the college. Not blaming them. Just calling it like it is.

Hey @TDREE I’m copy/pasting a comment I made to someone else on this same topic.

Hey! To be clear, every elite school had a frat centric or finals club centric social atmosphere of something of that nature like 40 years ago. It was just very white guy dominated at the time. Dartmouth is only known for it due to the Animal House movie, based on a now ended frat.

In the last few decades, finals/eating clubs and frats have reformed at top institutions, and Dartmouth has really led the way on that. We had to, since that ridiculously overexaggerated movie made us unfairly “known” for frats.

As a result, unlike most schools, almost all parties and events at frats have become open to everyone with a Dartmouth ID. This is important, since these spaces cannot be dominated any longer by the same demographic. Places like finals clubs at Princeton on the other hand, are largely exclusive i.e. you need to know someone on the inside to get into events.

Furthermore, a lot of frats have changed or popped up which are very different from traditional frats. Many are just like student societies, focused on social justice, or playing board games or video games together. The general use of the term greek life does not really represent the majority of societies we have here. Several are even gender inclusive.

Also, most students involved in greek societies don’t live there, also unusual. Most live in college housing. As a result, people’s involvement in greek societies generally only represents a fraction of what they do at Dartmouth. So, it’s quite easy to have an active social life at Dartmouth without rushing a society. I don’t plan on it, for example, and I’m not all worried. I will always have access to parties if I want it, and besides there are tons of other things going on in the weekends, like movies, theater productions, game nights etc. These are all very well attended, and I’ve often chosen not to go to a party to attend some of these

Of course, like any college, the party scene is alive and well. So the majority of your daughter’s friends will be going out on the weekends. But as I said, there’s always other options, and plenty of people who don’t choose that. But people at these schools are a lot more interesting and less traditional party people than in high school. I never parties on high school but now I do on most weekends for one night at least. And the first few times, I didn’t even drink, and there was NO pressure on me to do so.

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