Title: Matriculation Ceremony
General Information about Item:
- Initiation Ritual
- Dartmouth College
- Informants: Fisher Katlin
- Date Collected: October 23rd, 2018
- Fisher Katlin is a senior at Dartmouth College, who has lived in Chicago for his whole life. He is a double majoring in Chinese and Chemistry and plans on going to medical school after college. He is an active member of the Dartmouth outdoors club and has lead Dartmouth freshman trips for two years. He was my trip leader and has remained one of my close friends at Dartmouth since then.
- Fisher has both been a trippee, which is what the freshman going on these trips are called, later served as an upperclassmen trip leader. His freshman year, he went to the Dartmouth grant on the “Climb and Hike” trip, where he was introduced to rock climbing. During his freshman trip, Fisher recalled becoming close with his upperclassmen trip leader, named Brad. Brad later introduced Fisher to the mountaineering club, a Dartmouth organization which Fisher is an active member of today. Fisher’s junior year, he led a “fishing” trip, and his senior year, he worked on “Grant Crew” and helped all of the “Hike and Climb” trips learn to rock climb.
- Every year, over 90 percent of Dartmouth first-years take part in a DOC First-Year trip, where they go on a five day outdoors trip all over New Hampshire. There are several different types of trips offered, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing, and many others. These trips are characterized by various rituals, pranks, and verbal lore that encourage trippees to learn more about each other and Dartmouth culture as a whole. Fisher Katlin fondly remembers the “Robert Frost’s Ashes” prank as being a memorable and effective tradition, where the trip leaders tricked the trippees into thinking hot chocolate powder was famed Dartmouth alumni Robert Frost’s ashes. Additionally, trippees are not allowed to bring any technology with them, which creates an acutely solitary environment in which the group is intentionally coerced into being constantly engaged with each other and being present in the moment.
- Initiation rituals consist of three stages: separation, transition, and incorporation. In this ritual, the separation stage occurs when the trippees leave home and embark on their trip. Next, the transition stage happens while the students are on their trip, as they both overcome the challenges that the New Hampshire wilderness poses and learn about Dartmouth’s culture and traditions. Finally, the incorporation process occurs when the students arrive back on campus with a stronger sense of understanding and belonging in the Dartmouth community.
Meaning and interpretation
- DOC First-Year trips serve as an important aspect of initiating freshman into Dartmouth. They welcome new freshman to campus and give them a chance to get their first taste of look into Dartmouth’s culture. While on the trips, the trippees and trip leaders are able to grow as they weather the challenges from the wilderness. Additionally, DOC First-Year trips allow Dartmouth first-years the make their first purely Dartmouth connection, both with their fellow trippees and with their upperclassmen trip leaders.
• Comparison within the subgroup: In this sub-group, we focused on Dartmouth College social initiation rituals. The main similarity with these initiation rituals is that they all have the three phases of initiation rituals: separation, transition, and incorporation. Another similarity between most of these rituals is that freshman experience. A student’s freshman year is a time learn about his or her new community and the traditions that form its unique culture. Freshman year is also the time that most students join the clubs or sports teams that they will be most involved in throughout their Dartmouth careers. Therefore, it makes sense that so many of the Dartmouth social initiation rituals take place during the freshman year, such as the matriculation ceremony. The homecoming bonfire and many of the rituals in our subgroup also involve helping freshman feel like they have officially become members of the Dartmouth community, and it also forms a connection with the leader of their community.
- Comparison with the rest of the subgroups: The subgroups differ dramatically across the board. One difference within our subgroup is who initiates and rums each initiation ritual. Sometimes these rituals are set up and funded by the Dartmouth administration, and sometimes, like in the case of DOC first-year trips, they are student-run. Another difference is the duration of each ritual. Some social spaces take a while to initiate into or involve various rituals to initiate new members, while others only require one short ritual.
- Fisher Katlin on how DOC first-year trips act as an initiation ritual “The most important thing trips does is it gives you that first group of people from Dartmouth that you know.”
- Collector: J.P. Mortenson, Dartmouth College, Russian 13, Professor Valentina Apresyan, Professor Mikhail Gronas, Fall 2018
• DOC first-year trips
• Freshman class