Because of Dartmouth’s extreme isolation and veritable lack of alternative social outlets, the College’s Greek system has remained a powerful and enduring campus institution for decades. Fraternities—and to some extent sororities and other coed social clubs—at Dartmouth have historically stepped in to fill the after-hours void in most students’ schedules—a fact which shows little sign of changing as time goes on. While fostering friendships and facilitating relaxation are certainly positive contributions in a high-pressure environment like Dartmouth, the Greek system is ultimately a negative force on campus, simply because it is so unsupervised. At least this is the administration’s take on the matter, much to the chagrin of many alumni who support Greek life and its many appertaining excesses. If you were to ask most thoughtful Dartmouth students how they honestly feel about the Greek system, many would probably express ambivalence and perhaps a little bewilderment.
Most Dartmouth frat houses are in appalling physical condition. They are positively unsanitary and probably a little unsafe—certainly not the kinds of places parents would want their little Ivy Leaguer spending too much time, much less living in. Dartmouth is unique among its peers in many respects, and its approach to partying is certainly no exception to the rule. The extent to which Dartmouth’s obsession with frat life and alcohol detracts from its status as a serious, academic institution is probably the most disturbing thing about the Dartmouth Greek system. While the old Animal House days can only be relived on celluloid, Greek houses still have a commanding presence over the Dartmouth social scene. Frats remain a trenchant and entrenched part of Dartmouth culture, despite administration's efforts to diminish their influence through a somewhat weak-willed Student Life Initiative. Upperclass students, especially girls, find themselves a little jaded with the frat scene, but, for the most part, underclass students consider it a blessing.