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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.
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.
To the Dartmouth Class of 2022,
Despite my interest in politics, I have no plans to run for political office anytime soon. While I firmly believe that political participation is important at any age, the rush of millennials to run for public office in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency is an ineffective and reactionary approach, and it’s not what America needs right now. College-aged students are inexperienced, unprepared and are substituting legislation for political activism and protest.
I don’t mean to open old wounds, but it’s time to have a conversation about the 2016 election and its media coverage. In an age when various kinds of media have more influence over political campaigns than ever before, the 2016 election stands out. The vast and particularly damning negative coverage of Donald Trump, which did little to slow his campaign, seems to be reflective of an era during which the conventional wisdom of “no coverage is bad coverage” is correct. If this is true, how should the public consider and value the media coverage of campaigns, and to what extent do politicians themselves now play a role in creating their own press?
It didn’t fully hit me until I was asked by a prospective ’22 about what the day of a “typical Dartmouth student” looks like; a normal and routine question. Following my response about attending classes, going to rehearsal, attending meetings and finally giving this tour, her response changed the way I think about Dartmouth’s student body: “Everybody who makes themselves available to talk is so visible on campus, so busy all the time and involved with so many different activities; it’s really overwhelming.” After all, she was right. Dartmouth cultivates an image of the “typical student” as one who is always involved, always busy and always unpredictable. This image of Dartmouth students as strong multitaskers with a wide and diverse range of passions is not only largely false, but also creates a self-selecting and problematic precedent for future classes and generations.
I am privileged. This statement — rather, the implications of acknowledging its validity — have escaped the lips of countless individuals for whom the statement rings true. While some of us at Dartmouth may consider ourselves privileged, few rarely grapple with what that word means or its ramifications in our interactions with other students.
President Donald Trump’s mental fitness has come into question more than once. With his “bigly” vocabulary and “stable genius” behind the trigger of Twitter 24/7, individuals skeptical of the president feel that they have ample evidence to raise concerns. While many of my peers and I disapprove of the president’s actions and demeanor, is mental illness a just reason to remove Trump from office? The careless imprecision and accusatory tone we use surrounding the president’s supposed mental illness is frightening and further excludes those with mental illness from “normal society.” While one may not agree with or even disdain Trump, the reason for that opposition should not be his mental fitness.
In this age of political divisiveness, social unrest and social media prevalence, genuine human interaction is more important than ever, yet unfortunately overlooked and undervalued. Our conversations have become smiles in passing, our smiles in passing have become Facebook reactions and those have faded to the ever prevalent “let’s get a meal sometime!” texts. There is no debating that the way we communicate has changed greatly, and much of that change has marked a transition from valuable conversations conducive to growth and learning to simple transactional relationships and interactions. With 2018 just beginning, this resolution is worth your attention: Build better relationships.
As I head into the lobby of Baker-Berry Library before the 2A rush, I stop into KAF to peruse the seasonal drinks. The “tea of the day Palmer,” my self proclaimed secret drink, is no longer in season. The squeak of my boots is a familiar sound, one I haven’t heard since I last wore them in the thick winter mud. I try to find an open table, determined to work but fearing that without motivation from the groups of tours passing through, I would just binge-watch “Stranger Things.” An acquaintance sits down next to me, the kind that asks what I did last night and if I hooked up with anyone but doesn’t remember where I live or the name of “that group” that I’m in. “You’re taking next term off? You don’t know what you’re doing? Good for you!” Their congratulations seems unearned, as if taking a break is some sort of defiant and unusual practice. But that’s just it: At Dartmouth, the constant conditionality at the College, from your daily schedule to the KAF menu, puts things into perspective, for better or worst.
On Sunday, Oct. 1, the largest mass shooting in modern American history took place in Las Vegas. The usual questions came immediately to media attention: What was the shooter’s motive? Was this an act of terror? But no one second-guessed a critical part of the story: The perpetrator was a he. Since 1982, 91 mass shootings have occurred with more than four victims, and of those only three were committed by women. Mass shootings in America are a gendered issue, something that we need to acknowledge and question. What aspects of masculinity are contributing to mass shootings — and how can we take concrete steps not only to eliminate tragedies but also to change social attitudes surrounding gun violence?
In the fall of 2016, conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos came to Dartmouth to speak, despite vocal objections from many students and faculty. Last spring, Native American studies professor N. Bruce Duthu ’80 declined his appointment as the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences amid concerns over his support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Both of these events roused dialogue about Dartmouth’s commitment to supporting diverse ideas, but they also raised a larger question. What obligation does Dartmouth, as a private academic institution, have to uphold free speech and at what point should Dartmouth comment on and act upon the public actions of its students and faculty?
Like many Dartmouth students, I went through a transitional process from high school hopeful to nervous college student last fall, a shift that involved a great deal of uncertainty and doubt. As Eliza Jane Schaeffer ’20 astutely observed in her Sept. 13 article on adjusting to Dartmouth life, “The College on the (Northeastern) Hill,” ordering Collis pasta is quite the feat for a first-year. In that same article, Schaeffer pointed out the unique challenges Southerners face on Dartmouth’s campus, where they are heavily outnumbered.