College That Inspired ‘Animal House’ Bans Liquor on Campus

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

In a case of life coming full circle, the college that inspired the film Animal House, Dartmouth College, will ban hard alcohol on campus due to what Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon called “extreme behaviors,” adding that “it is hard alcohol — rather than just beer or wine — that lands students on a hospital gurney.”

Animal House, largely based on the experiences of writer Chris Miller at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth, follows the experiences of the fictional riotous Delta House, led by Eric “Otter” Stratton, as it does battle against its enemy, Dean Vernon Wormer.

Hanlon spoke Thursday morning to the students that in addition to the alcohol ban, six residential communities will be formed using a cluster of residence halls as a home base. He said each community will “organize and host social and academic programs… will have dedicated space for study and social interaction… will have a faculty advisor and graduate students in residence.”

Last April, Hanlon, concerned about campus behavior, urged the entire Dartmouth community, comprised of students, faculty, and alumni, to come up with ideas as to how to combat the problem. In 2014, applications to Dartmouth fell 14 percent, the biggest drop in 20 years.

The parallels between reality and the film are striking:

HANLON: “The vision is a campus where students are free of extreme behaviors … where sexual assault and high-risk drinking are eradicated from our campus.”

WORMER: “The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.”

HANLON: “To clarify what we expect of individuals, every student who enrolls in Dartmouth will be required to sign a Code of Conduct beginning next fall.”

MARMALARD: “But Delta’s already on probation.” WORMER: “They are? Well, as of now, they’re on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!”

HANLON: “Today, I ask every member of this community to ask yourself (pause): will your actions … and will your decisions … elevate our community and advance our mission? Or will they set us back?”

WORMER: “Cut the horseshit, son. I’ve got their disciplinary files right here. Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.”

HANLON: “If the Greek system as a whole does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, we will revisit its continuation on our campus.”

OTTER: “But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

Hanlon did acknowledge in his Thursday speech that the Greek system of fraternities and sororities had jettisoned its probationary period for prospective inductees in order to stop the practice of hazing. He said he wants a college “where students are 24/7 learners, where intellectual growth occurs outside the classroom as much as inside the classroom.”

Some of the recommendations to be implemented include: required sexual violence prevention programs for students; a code of conduct pledge signed by students; fraternities and sororities to have one female and one male faculty sponsor; and earlier classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.