Monday, December 22, 2008

Interfraternity Play Contest

I am not sure when the Interfraternity Play Contest become a late winter ritual at Dartmouth, or, for that matter, when it ended. I do know that the IPC was going strong as least as early as the late ‘40’s right after WW II.

The Contest worked like this. Each year all fraternities were encouraged to put on a one act play. In the late ‘50’s when I was at Dartmouth, I would say about 10 or 12 fraternities, roughly half of all houses, participated in any given year. The plays presented ranged from original one acts written by one of the fraternity members, short plays written by well known playwrights, or excerpts of traditional length plays presented in abbreviated form. In all, each participating fraternity was allowed up to one half hour to present its production.

It was required that only members of the fraternity could participate in the production. No ringers! And that all the tasks necessary to put on the play had to be performed by those members. The only exception to this rule was that a fraternity could uses actresses as the casting needs of the play dictated. Since Dartmouth was not co-ed in the late ‘50’s, faculty wives, townies and nurses from Mary Hitchcock Hospital would often be involved. (Thank heavens we did not have to wear drag as is the custom at certain other Ivy institutions!) Fraternity members were the actors, directors, stage managers, lighting directors, and set designers for these productions, although in most cases whoever opted to be the play’s director usually wore several other hats. Each participating fraternity would be assigned a faculty advisor from the ‘theater’ department who would hold one or two preliminary rehearsals with the cast. Then we were given time for one ‘dress’ rehearsal, complete with lights, set and props, in the Little Theater, located on the second floor of Robinson Hall.

When I say ‘Little’ Theater, I mean just that; this space was tiny! It sat perhaps 150 people on the world’s most uncomfortable wooden chairs. Actually, there was no formal theater department at Dartmouth in the late ‘50’s even though there was a very active, and I like to think, successful theater program. Each year the Dartmouth Players mounted four or five major productions under the guidance of Warner Bentley, Henry Williams and George Schoenhut. We did some very challenging plays: “Waiting for Godot” was a particular success in Hanover and won huge praise at the annual Yale Drama Festival in 1958. Warner Bentley oversaw the construction of the Hopkins Center, opened in 1962 I believe. The Hop has had a most positive effect on all the arts at Dartmouth.

The IPC ran over the course of three or four nights depending on the number of entrants and we performed in front of an audience. Not many people came as I remember, but there was always an audience of some size. A panel of judges (usually Warner, Henry and George) would then select a ‘winner,’ as well as ‘best actor’ and each participating house got ‘points.’ I am not sure what these points counted towards, but I know we got points for doing lots of activities” such as ‘Hums,’ interfraternity sports, the house’s academic ranking, and so forth.

The Interfraternity Play Contest was great fun. It was always interesting for me to see how much creativity would come forth each year from fraternities where one least expected to find it.

Bob Caulfield
San Francisco
December 22, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paper-Bag-On-The-Head Time

Dartmouth 2008:
No Rhodes scholars
#54 in U.S. News's list of best worldwide colleges and universities
Alums disenfranchised themselves
0-10 in football
Students going gaga over Obama's election
In growing financial difficulty

President Wright can't leave soon enough.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

U.S. Snooze and World Report Rankings

As I remember it, Dartmouth and Princeton were once peers. Well, at least we're better than Northwestern!! See -- U.S. Snooze

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dartmouth Dead

Here are a few of the Class of 1960 who did the old girl in:

James Adler, Tom Andrews, Charlie Butler, Elliott Carr, Steve Carroll, Dick Chase, Jonathan Cohen, William A. Colton, Jr., Walter E. Daniels. Dick Davidson, Robert M. Derderian, Howard Frankel, Walter Freedman, William Gould, William E. Gundy, John T. Guy, Robert Hager, J. Roger Hanlon, John Hannon, Michael Heitner, Russ Ingersoll, Chuck Kaufman, Kenneth E. Johansen, Eugene Kohn, Phil Kron, Richard Levy, Marty Lower, Barry MacLean, Spencer Morgan, Richard Ossen, James M. Pollard, Rick Roesch, Tony Roisman, Dan Rosen, David Sammons, Peter Schwartz, Dudley Smith, I. Thomas Stone, Allen Stowe, Mickey Straus, Seth Strickland, David Vaules, Tom Wahman, and Roger L. Zissu

Please no flowers.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Next Prexy

What qualities would I like to see in Dartmouth’s next President? (Not that anyone is holding their breath waiting for my input.) I would like our next Prexy to trim our obvious administrative bloat ... to reinstall a rigorous set of academic minimums to insure that undergraduates get a true liberal arts education ... to create diversity in a Dartmouth student's every-day social and political interactions rather than just in the student-body demographics ... to create well-rounded graduates with a solid physical, logical, spiritual and intellectual grounding ... to push undergraduates (and faculty) toward distinction with a stated goal of winning more national and international academic awards ... to move Dartmouth back into the forefront of a cyber-science (as well as in other meaningful academic areas) … and to pay more attention toward preserving Dartmouth traditions? Enough? I guess that this might be too much to expect from Dartmouth’s current power structure.

George Potts '60

Monday, March 24, 2008


One of the oldest traditions at Dartmouth is that the Alumni(ae), since 1891, have been able to elect half of the College’s Board of Trustees. This, to me, is an essential check and balance that has kept Dartmouth from charting its administrative and pedagogical course independent of the leavening element of the collective wisdom of its graduates. Now this prerogative is being threatened and it is time for those graduates who cherish this tradition to make a stand against this portent. The Dartmouth administration has attempted to pack the Board of Trustees with additional acolytes who believe that this and all future administrations are infallible and can perpetuate themselves without independent input and oversight.

This administration stratagem has been thwarted by a lawsuit by the Dartmouth Association of Alumni which has so far been successful in the New Hampshire courts. But unfortunately, authorization for this suit was voted for by a paper-thin margin -- six out of the eleven in the Executive Committee of our Association of Alumni. Now, the administration’s tact is to overturn this decision by changing this Association’s Executive Committee membership to a group that would likely rescind this lawsuit. Thus, there is an upcoming election (April 28th through June 5th) that pits a group of independent petition candidates to the Executive Committee of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni against the administration’s hand-picks. This therefore is a critical election that cannot be ignored by any alum who believes that Dartmouth will only remain strong with a modicum of independent oversight. To get more details about this kafuffle and find out what you can do to keep Dartmouth stalwart go to Association of Alumni ... and vote FOR the petition candidates to the Executive Committee of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni (see Dartmouth Parity).

If, on the other hand, you believe that a self-perpetuating group of elite alums should now and forever have a hammerlock on the future course of Dartmouth by disenfranchising their fellow classmates, go to Dartmouth Undying

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shucking and Jiving

May I here list a set of Dartmouth traditions as candidates to be shucked by the growing list of those jive nihilists who are charter members of the Here and Now Society:

- Graduation ceremonies (with caps and gowns, proud parents, and boring speeches)
- Memorial Field and its football games … particularly the Homecoming Weekend one.
- And while we are at it … Homecoming Weekend itself (and the Dartmouth Night bonfire)
- The Hanover Inn (to be replaced by a fancy Hilton Hotel)
- Old dead white-man majors such as History, Philosophy, English Lit, Religion, etc. *
- Dartmouth Row and Baker Library (to be razed and replaced by high-rise dorms)
- “Dartmouth Undying”
- The Greek system of fraternities and sororities (this time for sure)
- Winter Carnival and Green Key weekends (including ice sculptures and golf course trysts)
- Chubbing and the Dartmouth Outing Club
- “The Dartmouth” and the “Jack-o-Lantern” (oops, already gone)
- The Hopkins Center and Hood Museum
- Membership in the Ivy League
- The Hovey “Indian Maiden” murals (another oops)
- The Dartmouth Skiway
- The freshman trip to Moosilauke lodge
- The Dartmouth Glee Club and the Aires choral group
- The graduate schools … Tuck, Thayer, and Dartmouth Medical School
- The Orozco murals
- Dick’s House (and while we’re at it, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center too)
- The Ledyard Canoe Club and its Spring canoe trip to Long Island Sound
- Hard science majors such as: Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geology, etc. *
- Alumni(ae) reunions
- The school color, green … let’s make it fuchsia
- The Rollins chapel (“Gothic dropped from a great height”)
- Senior secret societies (C&G, Sphinx, F&S, Dragon, Phrygian, etc.)
- Any reference to Samson Occom, Daniel Webster or Eleazer Wheelock
- Vox Clamantis in Deserto

* From a recent Dartblog "[Trustees] indicated that Dartmouth is hesitent to hire new professors in departments that were not popular five or ten years ago because in six years, professors are eligible to become tenured faculty. Dartmouth could then have too many professors for an unpopular department." QED

Are you pissed off yet?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


A Dartmouth classmate (and fraternity brother) of mine recently sent me the following observation about traditions and their fleeting permanence:

The "old traditions" move with the times. If you go back and read either The Dartmouth or other written sources about D you'll find that every generation of alumni bewailed the passing of the "old traditions," totally forgetting in the process that they themselves ended a few "old traditions" while they were students. The passing of "old traditions" is the way of human progress. It doesn't mean, of course, that we shouldn't bewail their passing . . . wailing feels good. But let's keep in mind that traditions must change if we want to progress. And when you look at and talk to today's undergraduates, there is no question that Dartmouth has progressed.

Although, emotionally, I agree with these thoughts, I cannot bring my intellect into full concordance. Clearly traditions add color and texture to our life’s experiences and there is surely some value to their persistence. Witness that British jurists still wear their powdered wigs to court. Bavarians still sport lederhosen and slap each other around in their touristy dance. The Japanese spend enormous emotional energy with their tea ceremonies. The examples go on and on. Even at Dartmouth a few traditions still survive – Winter Carnival, the Homecoming bonfire, and the Greek system (despite numerous efforts to kill it). The question then becomes – which traditions deserve to persist? I offer that, if the rationales for a tradition have not been maintained (such as why Dartmouth seniors smoked and then broke their clay pipes at the Bema), then this tradition deserves to die. However, I also conclude that the maintenance of the reasons for such traditions is not the responsibility of the students but of the overseers of these institutions. And, if these powers have not continued to educate and explain the backing for any tradition, then they are culpable of lassitude or PC thinking aimed at killing such traditions. And as a consequence they are also guilty of devaluing the transcendental worth of said institutions.

If, as my classmate opines, traditions are will o’ the wisp and come and go with the passing of generations of students, then I suggest that they are not traditions but merely fads. Traditions have been tested with time and deserve to have some lasting power. They need not die to achieve progress. Yes, they may be replaced by traditions of greater worth or meaning, but they should not be sacrificed in an orgy of nihilism. Many traditions will in fact compliment institutional progress such as those that promote social benefits … group cohesion or critical thought or the dispelling of prejudice. They should be encouraged and cherished like an elegant antique.

One last thought about people holding onto the past. It seems strange to me that those who are so ready to throw over old traditions (generally, liberals) are most often the ones who wring their hands when one obscure species of plant or animal may go extinct. Many of these lefties would move heaven and Earth to preserve the snail darter but not lift a finger to hold onto our National Anthem.