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Saturday, November 15, 2003

It looks like my alma mater hasn't changed that much.

Check out this story from a newspaper I actually used to work for about some group of pranksters putting up phony Howard Dean posters with Confederate flags on them.

I suspect freshmen Dartmouth Review staffers. It's practically their stock in trade. It strikes the right tone of pseudo-clever, of quasi-offensive-but-really-more-inane-than-anything-else, of questionable taste to be a Review stunt. (And yes, the left, especially the anti-Greek left, would from time to time pull similar stunts with some of the same hallmarks.)

I had always assumed that these sort-of-below-the-belt nasty political posters were de rigeur on all college campus settings. Then I discovered that on other college campuses (campi?) people had better things to do, either because:

1. The student body leaned so overwhelmingly to the left that the conservatives didn't bother. (I suppose it's the opposite in some other places, but I've never seen them first-hand.) Dartmouth is not as conservative as its reputation or its history would suggest, but there's this constant pitched battle for the "soul" of Dartmouth between faculty and alumni, between/among students, and such you don't really see elsewhere, even at other Ivy League schools.

I'm not kidding. Even the way a student or alumnus sings the alma mater is inherently a political act. I'll explain later.

2. The student body is so overwhelmingly apolitical that even those inclined to such shenanigans direct things in a different direction. I mean, apolitical may be a majority at Dartmouth, but, at least when I was there, even many the apolitical had this sense that they should be paying attention to the larger world, easy at it was there to shut it all out.

3. The campus is not in a bubble in the middle of nowhere, and there are just better things to do - culture, nightlife, or whatever. (In Hanover, nightlife more or less consists of sucking down cheap beer in fraternity basements.) But more importantly, there's a whole world to interact with in a city like Washington.


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