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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.
Jack-o-lanterns grin from Hanover’s porches in the last orange bursts of peak foliage, the year’s most anticipated horror movies premier onscreen and campus anticipates spooky festivities with candy and costumes. It’s time for horror enthusiasts like me to relish in our favorite genre. In the spirit of Halloween, many students scrounge for something scary to consume and find themselves looking at a foreign menu. For anybody with no idea what to order, I offer a few humble recommendations.
Before coming to Dartmouth, everybody had something to tell me about the Greek system: it’s the campus social scene; one can find friends outside of it; it’s pervasive; it’s a great community; it’s overbearing. Most of my peers told me that despite my reluctance, I’d probably end up joining a sorority — it’s just what Dartmouth students do.
The incoming freshman’s first exercise in college-styled time management presents itself at Orientation. Parents and regularly scheduled class times do not dictate the time dedicated to moving into dorm rooms and getting adjusted to life as a Dartmouth freshman. In fact, neither does the Orientation schedule. Sheets of paper that lay out the day in colored codes corresponding to words like “optional” and “mandatory” ought to mean little to a college freshman recently released from the binds of a high school agenda. What is a schedule during Orientation week? Merely a suggestion.
After completing my first year at Dartmouth, taking a step back from campus life was almost as overwhelming as plunging into it. Life back in the “real” world moves slowly, particularly if one’s off-term does not include an internship, a research grant or any other educational endeavor. Friends go home at the day’s end, and no regularly scheduled club meetings fill up one’s evenings. Students find themselves with a lot of free time and little idea of what to do with it.
Colleges breed social activism. Thousands of young people from every corner of the country and beyond live together on one campus, bringing with them unique perspectives on issues both personal and political. In this melting pot of opinions, viewpoints collide to create either unity or tension, and movements take root under the leadership of inspired activists. Students arrive here bursting with ideas that they’ve brought from back home, many of them eager to share these ideas with their new community. They’re fueled further by an expansive liberal arts education and exposure to all kinds of new people. Perhaps most importantly, perceived injustices within the very institutions people attend motivate them to create change at the local level.
Since the Jerry Sandusky scandal and Timothy Piazza’s hazing-related death early last year, Pennsylvania State University has walked on eggshells. Another safety infringement will send the university’s name right back into the news headlines while they cannot afford the negative publicity. Necessarily, they’ve examined safety procedures in organizations across campus in order to mitigate any future safety risks, assessed emergency procedures, set minimum requirements for medically-certified leaders to club participant ratios and reviewed the risks involved in each club’s activities. All of these measures may help keep the university’s name out of unwanted press headlines and ensure the safety of current and future Penn State students, but when precaution translated to shutting down of one of the university’s major clubs, the administration went a step too far.
There are a million and one factors that play into deciding where to go to college, but for me one reigned above all others: location. Like many Dartmouth students, and particularly those involved in the Dartmouth Outing Club, I was drawn here by the White Mountains, the accessible rivers and the hiking trails that run right through campus. Hanover’s Main Street even makes up a small portion of the Appalachian Trail, and thru-hikers regularly stop for some company and a place to rest in Robinson Hall. Dartmouth’s natural surroundings differentiate it from hundreds of other schools that prospective students choose between. Members of this community recognize Dartmouth’s environment as an asset through green initiatives scattered all over campus. As always, though, there is so much more that students could be doing to show their appreciation for the College’s natural surroundings. Fortunately, the positive environmental change we need could spring easily from small amendments to our on-campus dining spaces.
With the exception of several houses that hosted events promoting awareness of campus sexual assault, self-care and gender inequity, Greek life spaces closed this past Friday night in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Termed the “Night of Solidarity,” Friday evening was meant to encourage Dartmouth community members to reflect on the ways that Greek life perpetuates sexual violence on campus. The night’s sentiment encourages steps toward ensuring safety and support for everybody on this campus, particularly because of its union with Dartmouth’s “Take Back the Night” march. However, in demonstrating support by prohibiting entrance to students for a single night, Greek houses risk feigning action with inaction. While the Night of Solidarity recognizes the reality of campus sexual violence, it ultimately offers no solutions for impactful change on this front. As several houses mentioned in their emails of solidarity, the next essential steps toward aggregating campus social change include strict and enforced intolerance of sexual violence.
I do not believe in hurting others. It is important to me to live on a campus where the student body can feel safe and respected regardless of personal identifiers or beliefs, but I think there comes a point when political correctness begins to tread on people’s toes. When legitimate expression of political or otherwise controversial ideology becomes compromised or vilified on campus, students need to take a step back and understand the repercussions of responding with outrage. Equating disagreeableness with hatefulness intentionally smudges the line between exercising and abusing free speech, placing significant constraints on campus conversations.
Thanks to today’s media messages, people learn to feel ashamed of their bodies before they learn basic arithmetic. Disney films, magazine advertisements and sitcom television instill a false conception that self-worth is determined by appearance, particularly in females. Being lovable by mass media’s standards means flaunting a flat stomach, flawless skin and a million and one other supposedly ideal physical attributes.
Dartmouth likes to tout its commitment to providing opportunities for students to expand their horizons. From joining clubs to volunteering to interning, we’re constantly being recruited, mentored, probed to try anything new. While Dartmouth facilitates the discovery of different interests, for students like me, coming here was already a bound out of our comfort zones.
Since the launch of the Virginia Slims’ cigarette campaign in the late 60s, feminism has sold in the mass market. Feminists today wear our pussy-hats to the grocery store, plaster our laptops with popular feminist witticisms, layer our “smash the patriarchy” sweatshirts over matching t-shirts and pin buttons printed with the female sex sign onto our backpacks. Our wallets bleed feminism. It soaks into the soap we buy, the makeup we wear, the tampons we carry. But in a market where feminism is thrown at us from all directions, it begs the question: Are we actually feminists, or are we simply buying a label?
Discrimination is a learned behavior. Nobody is born with notions of the superiority of one group over another, nor would we even perceive much of a difference between people if these dissimilarities were not taught to us. But from an early age, we are segregated by sex, whether by direct grouping or by internalized societal pressures, so we grow up learning not to cross imaginary lines. The divide between the sexes is enormous and older than the human historical record. It’s high time the gap was filled, and what better place to start than the minds of America’s children?
Every woman deserves uninhibited control over her body. To question her dominion over her very self is to threaten her most intimate security, to impose inequity in interpersonal relationships, to inherently discriminate against her in professional environments and to put an essential element of her ability to lead a healthy, productive and happy life into the hands someone else. How can any person claim to know the best or most morally right path of action for anybody other than himself? Yet in opposition to what ought to be an unalienable right, a war for reproductive rights has been waged for decades, and on Oct. 6, President Donald Trump’s administration predictably stoked the flame.
Feminists are proud, independent women, but in order to further our cause, we do, in fact, need men. A major shift in the social paradigm is impossible when only part of the population is fighting for change. We need the other sex to fill the gaps, to help us form a united front and to project our voices in the places where we are not heard yet. This does not mean we are asking for charity.