April 26, 2010

Daniel Webster dinner sucks rotten eggs.

Take a look on Banner Student, the college's student information system, and you'll see a link for "Daniel Webster Reception Registration." This senior-only, registration-required-dinner dangles in front of every student on banner student for all four years of enrollment; I could only expect that it would be some classy way of honoring the students and seeing them off into the bright world beyond. Instead, I found myself overdressed at the worst cocktail party in town, in the hottest room at Dartmouth. And there are no chairs.

This "reception" -- which I swear to god was a "dinner" on my banner student in previous years -- is little more than "snacks for seniors". Students of age jump through hoops by bringing government ID and putting on plastic bracelets for the privilege of drinking champagne only a step or two better than André. Odd selections of edible, but not great, finger food are put out on small tables for hundreds of '10s to swarm around. Alumni from the class of 1960 are there to mingle, but with no specific purpose.

The event begins with a 'few remarks from our fellow '10s' and we soon discover that the entire evening is just one big selling of student government after college. We meet the SEC (senior executive committee) and watch a video they produced in which the twenty or so of them describes at painful length who they are and what exactly they are suppose to do. The video ends with bloopers, which could only be funny to the people appearing in them and are almost as long as the entire preceding presentation. A lull in the speeches emerges and you continue your marathon of standing awkwardly, waiting for Jim Kim to come at end and save you from having to continue standing awkwardly listening to more speeches. Someone gets up and extols the virtue of giving back financially to the school. He points to the oft-quoted statistic that even full-tuition-paying students have half their tuition subsidized, and you wonder in amazement how on earth Dartmouth could possibly cost $100k per year per student. The more you think about it, the more Dartmouth's tremendous fiscal shortfall makes sense.

Another alum comes up and gives his top 10 list of advice for young alums: numbers 7 though 9 on the list are 'not being Joe Asch'. As all the tables run out of food and lemonade, your legs get more tired, and the speaker comments on how nice the evening is and how many of these exact events you'll get to go to when you're active in alumni affairs. yippie.

Jim Kim takes the stage and for the first time in the evening everyone is silent. He talks about dimensions and cracks a few jokes about how easily Dartmouth alums cry when thinking about Dartmouth, and how silly "Brown people" are (he means the Alumni of Brown University). The program ends, and though you are invited to stay and continue to mingle, you leave immediately so you can go to Foco and get some real food. As you look around foco, you notice everyone else from the Daniel Webster reception is there too. Oh, and they never explain why the thing is named for Daniel Webster.

For the love of god, don't waste your time going to this event. The whole thing is so half-assed, I'd rather just cut it entirely and save Dartmouth the money.


  1. I would be curious to hear more about "[steps] number 7 through 9." What did he say, precisely, Mr. Bruschi?

  2. Something along the lines of "we don't have to all agree with Parkhurst... but we should express ourselves in ways that don't make a lot of fuss. The college changes and we need to accept that it will be different for future classes" For me, the subtext was clear.

  3. Chris Kendig10:59 PM

    Brilliant...a truly inspired article. One of the funniest things I've read in quite a while.

  4. Dartmouth '085:45 PM

    Hey, Dartmouth, your budget cuts are showing!

    Daniel Webster dinners were much, much nicer in the past...

  5. Anonymous8:38 PM

    Looks like simply a PR effort on behalf of future Alumni Council toadies, and maybe the Annual Fund.

    Dartmouth is a great experience, but is $100k of expense per year really necessary?