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The 2020 presidential election is rapidly approaching. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign war chest grows to over $100 million; meanwhile, more and more Democrats are announcing their campaigns to replace him. America is not ready for another round of the polarizing, tribalistic turf war that increasingly defines this country’s presidential politics. Tensions still run deep from the toxic 2016 elections, and little suggests that the entrenched party elite on either side of the aisle will jostle for power in 2020 with any more civility than last time.
When convicted illegal campaign contributor Dinesh D’Souza ’83 tweeted Tuesday morning about his lecture at Dartmouth Monday night, he had little to say about the content of his “A World Without Walls” speech. Perhaps D’Souza — who started his career as provocateur by outing gay classmates while editor of The Dartmouth Review and has since gone on in his numerous books and movies to make abhorrent statements that do not merit repetition — felt as though his followers already knew what his brand of hatred had to say about the border. More likely, though, D’Souza saw an opportunity to stir up his base. “...the campus leftists yelled, chanted, obstructed, & even cried!” D’Souza wrote. “Despite the best efforts of these little fascists-in-training, the event went on ...” Fox News reporter Heather Childs parroted this idea in her coverage of D’Souza’s visit, claiming on Twitter and television that protestors had “harassed” and “verbally attacked” him.
Four years ago, Dartmouth formed the Ad Hoc Committee on Grading Practices and Grade Inflation, and to quote Douglas Adams, “This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” Of course, the rationale seems both simple and unimpeachable: Dartmouth gives a lot of As, and if we keep going about it this way, soon everyone will have an A (and if that happens, Dartmouth isn’t doing its job). I added the part in parentheses because it’s an implicit assumption of Dartmouth’s approach toward education, and because I want the reader to read it in a stuffy bureaucratic voice that undermines it as a normative assumption about what Dartmouth’s job is. A giver of well-distributed grades is a terrible way to think about a college education.
In the op-ed “Red, White and Offended” published in The Dartmouth on Jan. 31, Peter Leutz delves into the issue of free speech in comedy and declares that infamous comedian Louis C.K.’s recent jokes and their offensive content “should be of little concern” as long as they’re for comedic purposes. I applaud Leutz for his defense of free speech and his analysis of modern comedic discourse, but as a person who both preforms and enjoys comedy, I disagree with his thesis entirely. While many comedians rely on “shock value” and often tread the grey area of “too far” and “just enough,” C.K. should be heavily criticized, and his jokes, such as his most recent mocking of Parkland shooting survivors, have no place in modern comedy.
If Mapplethorpe had Instagram, would his account get banned? In museums, nudity and emotional expression are well-accepted. But the account @artwerk6666, which often features twerking and seemingly baroque iPhone photos of the nude body, recently got deleted at 69 thousand followers for about the 17th time. Featured on Vice, Dazed 100 and a couple of smaller culture websites, Alexandra Marzella, the owner of @artwerk6666, is an artist, selfie taker and feminist performance artist — so what’s the issue? Nudity. Nudity is crass and unsophisticated, or so digital admins would have you believe. Her account, however, is one of many that intentionally misuses social media to display an affect of rawness that destabilizes the idea of a polished public face. An Instagram feed with different variations of golden-hour selfies would be a boring place to be. Social media spaces should take the recent Tumblr regulation initiatives as a sign to take a step back, since feminist performance artists rely on social media to destabilize the image of the perfect woman for consumption.
My inner monologue goes something like this. “Get over it! Twilight came out 10 years ago. Wait — am I really that old?” Yes, Twilight the movie came out in 2008; 10 years, one English major and several French New Extremist films later, and I still am a Twi-hard. I enjoy Claire Denis’ “Trouble Every Day” as much as the next girl, or as much as the next girl who really wants people to know she has “good taste” in films. But there is something to be said for the unrelenting melodrama of a film like “Twilight.” One thing that many feminists and blatant misogynists can agree on is that, put simply, “Twilight” is trash. I do not think “Twilight” is so easy to hate because it is corny; many campy teen or kid flicks are met with little hate, such as the “Harry Potter” series and the television series “The Big Bang Theory.” “Twilight” gets hate because of the way it confronts the reality of emotion. “Twilight” certainly is no feminist rallying call, but the hate it receives makes evident how people (especially women) are stigmatized for embracing their feelings. The growing popularity of auteur culture led to an overvaluing of intellectual control over emotional vulnerability. But pop culture representations of love, in the broadest sense of the word, remind us to forget about being cool; instead, it acknowledges that idealistic emotion can be cheesy and politically problematic, but can bring people together through a now-rare idealism.
I recently purchased a tote on Instagram with the words, “The cyborg in me recognizes the cyborg in you.” With the enthusiasm somewhere between that of a hypebeast and intellectual nerd, I told my friends how it fell into my hands; the bag is sold by Instagram meme account @sighswoon, who created the phrase after reading a text by digital and feminist studies professor, Donna Haraway. My cyborg tote is one product within a larger trend of not only text-heavy apparel, but simple pieces that reference moments in high culture. Some fellow theory lovers have dismissed this as sad and reductive, while some of my more fashionable friends encourage me to resist the urge to read into it. But Theory Garb, as I’ll coin it, demonstrates the pop culture potential of theory when it does not take itself too seriously, and serves as a reminder that it is the beginning of a question and not an answer to one.
I don’t always notice it — when trying to beat the KAF line or, in the opposite direction, rushing to my history classes in Carson. But, when not confronted by a menacing time crunch as I progress down First Floor Berry, the year 1968 can’t help but catch my eyes in its bright red lettering.
Wearable technology is expected to be one of 2019’s biggest fitness trends. Many major companies and institutions are interested in promoting innovation in these areas, such as universities across the country. For instance, Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma requires students to purchase a Fitbit and walk at least 10,000 steps a day for a letter grade. As of September 2018 the insurance company John Hancock now provides discounted premiums to individuals enrolled in their Vitality life insurance program who use activity trackers and opt to report this data to the company. Individuals in the program automatically receive 20 to 40 percent discounts on these wearable fitness devices. While linking fitness to one’s health is a positive goal, however, insurance companies should not have access to fitness data because of data errors, privacy concerns and the negative impact of fitness trackers.
The emails seem to roll in on almost a daily basis, offering thousands of dollars to students looking to pursue “design your own” internship programs with Dartmouth organizations. Deans, professors and fellow students encouraged me to apply for programs with Rauner Library, the Center for Social Impact, the Dickey Center, the Rockefeller Center or even individual departments to secure funding for my upcoming off-term, which I had filled with an internship at a nonprofit law office in New York. Both the candor with which they spoke and the seemingly overwhelming number of resources available made me feel confident when applying for funding that was critical to me being able to take up my offer in Albany. However, not only was I declined funding during the initial application round, I discovered that many of my friends who depend on these funding sources had also been dismissed — highlighting a pernicious consequence of pursing nonprofit internships.
Until July 20, 1969, a human being who gazed at the light of distant stars perforating the night sky had to do so on Earth. Neil Armstrong changed that forever. To him, our planet was a small blue dot mostly alone in a vast expanse of darkness. After Apollo 11 landed to unprecedented worldwide acclaim, the moon and everything else out there seemed like something we could do more than look at from Earth. Unfortunately, much like in any other place humans have landed, human apathy and thoughtlessness did not leave the Moon as it had been found.
Congratulations! You made it another year, another leap through time and space around the sun into a momentous 2019. As we approach this new year of life and experience, some of us take a moment to make resolutions that — hopefully — will stand the test of time. These resolutions reflect us with a rare authenticity — they are our highest hopes, our deepest insecurities and our most honest appraisals of our own selves.
By now the world knows, or at least many of us do, that Thanksgiving is a holiday tainted by its unethical historical context. In tasteless celebration of the white man’s massacre of indigenous peoples, Americans gorge themselves annually on factory-farmed turkey, GMO-riddled green bean casserole and squash, artificially-sweetened cranberry sauce and all other sorts of American delicacies. Younger family members are told gilded tales about Squanto and falsified stories depicting the colonists and the indigenous peoples living in harmony. Swept under the carpet are the European diseases, the unjust exploitation of natives and the sick reality that the foundations of the world we live in today were ripped from the hands of the people who called this land home before us.
I stared at question number 6 on the form.
With the United States’ midterm elections looming, the push to “get out the vote” is in full-swing. As it should be — only 61 percent of registered voters went to the polls in 2016. Perhaps even more surprising is that 2016 set the record for voter turnout in a presidential election. If we take a closer look at the 137.5 million voters who actually, well, voted, we see something else surprising: close to 90 percent of people reported they would vote along party lines. This tribalistic divide in the American civic body mirrors the partisan divide in Congress, where party unity voting has increased from sixty percent in the early 1970s to 90 percent in 2017.
I received several attention-grabbing emails in my inbox last week. The messages advertised that conservative commentator David Horowitz would be coming to campus to discuss “Identity Politics and the Totalitarian Threat from the Left.” Potentially provocative email subject lines containing quotes by Horowitz included “Israel is the victim,” “Angry voices of the left” and “Identity politics is racist.” The planned format of the event was 40 minutes of prepared remarks, followed by a 20-minute question and answer session.