Robin Jayaswal contributed to this cartoon.
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Robin Jayaswal contributed to this cartoon.
Exploring an alternative grading system.
I spent the first week of my senior fall waking up early every morning determined to do work, only to remain in bed in the fetal position, paralyzed by stress. Thoughts of what I needed to do — apply for jobs, start my thesis, apply to fellowships — overwhelmed me. The weight of infinite futures lay heavy on my chest. And so the last rays of summer light were lost on me. If birds chirped, I did not hear them. If the grass gleamed, awash in early morning dew, I did not see past my bedroom window.
Hollywood actresses, including Asia Argento, Rose McGowan, Lupita Nyong’o and Mira Sorvino, recently came forward accusing producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment. The media regards these cases as milestone events that are “open[ing] the floodgates” to embolden women to speak out about sexual assault. In some ways, this is true, as many women have come forward on social media with the words “me too” as a way to highlight the widespread nature of sexual violence against women. But the reality is that the overarching issue of sexism against women in Hollywood and beyond was already apparent, but it was ignored until the relatively privileged started to speak up about it. Our slowness to realize the seriousness of the issue of sexual harassment in Hollywood draws attention to a greater problem — support for feminism in the abstract, but less so when it comes to reality.
“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.” This was the opening line for Marina Keegan’s final column in the Yale Daily News, published days after her graduation. Keegan was a magna cum laude graduate with a promising future as a journalist at The New Yorker. Already an accomplished writer, Keegan had received an award for her play “Utility Monster” for best stage reading at a playwriting festival in Manhattan.
The Atlantic’s Molly Ball wrote in September 2017 that many Americans “resent having to press 1 for English when they call customer service.” One might note that the mere motion of “pressing 1” is an odd action to complain about, but then, the complaint isn’t truly about phones or any number on their keypads. Instead, the objection to “pressing 1” is about the idea that, as an American, one should not have to undertake any effort to indulge in using the English language or indulge the outsiders coming in to hear — shock! horror! — Spanish.
Since the inauguration of what seems to be becoming a daily tantrum in a chamber pot, the previous administration and Congress appear more sophisticated and productive by a mere tweet. Currently, Washington D.C. is a circus of feckless sycophants working with an ill-coiffed buffoon. A greater degree of equanimity would sharpen the responses that are working to render this embarrassing moment in US history only four years in duration.
After racial slurs were found written outside of the dorm rooms of five black cadet candidates at the United States Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the head of the preparatory institution, addressed a crowd of cadets on Sept. 28. In a roughly five-minute lecture that neither minced words nor beat around the bush, Silveria said that “small thinking and horrible ideas” had no place at the school. Those who could not treat their fellow cadet candidates with dignity and respect had to “get out.” When addressing the crowd as a whole, Silveria said: “If you’re outraged by those words then you’re in the right place ... You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”
As a senior, I now get alumni and first-years asking for my reflections on my experiences and fleeting time at Dartmouth. Like most other seniors, I generally provide advice revolving around the intimate student-faculty academic relationships I have developed and on forging my own identity and academic and professional paths amid the conformist pressures and culture of our small, wooded campus. I would wager most students and alumni are aware of the pivotal importance of these factors, probably to the point of them becoming cliché. But one aspect of the Dartmouth experience that I think gets underplayed are the resources and programs Dartmouth provides to spend time studying abroad. Individual departments and the charming Off-Campus Programs office on College Street work incredibly hard to make studying abroad at Dartmouth accessible, inclusive, seamless and culturally enriching. Statistics are thrown around about how many students study abroad and how accessible it is, but it often is not conveyed just how eye-opening and life-changing spending time outside of your normal sphere of life can be.
Ask anybody what “violence” is, and they will most likely give you a straightforward answer. A Google search returns “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” Everybody agrees that there is no place for this definition of physical, bodily violence in public discourse and protest. Yet the ways in which perceptions of violence, barbarity and unruliness are deployed in the public sphere through protest, public engagement and policing in America do not always align with Google’s clear-cut definition.
At its surface level, the internet seems to be a website where marginalized communities and individuals can receive affirmation that their social worries are valid and comfort from friends who like their posts or offer compassionate comments. This is evident in trending hashtags about feminism, identity-based meme pages and long Facebook posts concerning individuals’ personal struggles. While it is important to have public conversations about sociopolitical struggles for many marginalized groups, the internet helps to disadvantage visibility-related issues.
If the Biblical sacrifice of Isaac were written today, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell might stand in for Abraham, and instead of the voice of the angel of God above, the faithful might read of the cries of disabled activists dragged in flex-cuffs from Congressional hearings. And our progenitor of nations, spared from certain death, is not Isaac but the Affordable Care Act. After the congressional GOP’s third abject healthcare failure, this is not the least apropos comparison, though it may verge slightly into the poetic.
I’m sure most of us at Dartmouth have heard of the Stanford Duck Syndrome — it’s frequently mentioned around campus, although rarely actually discussed. For those of you who may need a refresher, the Duck Syndrome gets its name from the fact that ducks appear to wade calmly through water, but underneath the surface they’re frantically paddling to stay afloat. When referring to people, we’re talking about those divine humans who seem to be flawlessly succeeding in every aspect of their lives, from looking well-dressed to getting 4.0’s to being a charismatic and talented leader all at the same time, while internally trying not to drown just to meet the demands of life.
In a crowded hall at the Cambridge Union over 50 years ago, some 700 observers at the world’s premiere debating club sat poised, eager to bear witness to an oratory spectacle. The motion of the day: “Has the American Dream been achieved at the expense of the American Negro?” Arguing in the affirmative, legendary African-American author James Baldwin stood at a podium in a dishearteningly white space. On the other side was William F. Buckley, conservative intellectual, tasked with defending the contrarian view of equal opportunity in America.
It was announced earlier this month that Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency, was hacked and the personal and financial information of consumers stolen. It was also recently revealed that Equifax knew about a significant breach of its network in March of 2017, five months before it was disclosed publicly. The company has stated that the hack in March was unrelated to the recently disclosed breach in which millions of American consumers’ personal information was stolen, which is questionable considering both incidents reportedly involved the same hackers.
After seeing “Antigone in Ferguson” on Friday night, I did not leave necessarily with mixed emotions but rather with numerous discrete, difficult-to-handle thoughts, ideas and feelings. The show itself — a modern reading of the eons-old Greek tragedy “Antigone,” interspersed and complemented by song — was spectacular, raw, powerful, vulnerable, thought-provoking, discomforting and (by design) cathartic. The parallels between “Antigone,” which tells the story of the young title character and her quest to bury her dead brother Polyneices after he is deemed an enemy of the State and left to rot in the streets; and the story of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and whose body was left uncovered in the streets for four hours, were clear. Even so, the cast of “Antigone in Ferguson,” which included established actors Tracie Thoms and Zach Grenier, as well as equally talented performers who were closer to the tragedy in Ferguson — two of Michael Brown’s teachers and multiple members of the Ferguson police force — did not explicitly equate Michael Brown with Polyneices. Rather, it seemed the intent was, as Bryan Doerries, the artistic director of the production, put it in an interview with The Dartmouth, “to set up the conditions for a conversation in which people will interrogate what the word ‘Ferguson’ means to them.”
They broke the law — plain and simple. It’s the common thread that runs through every argument directed at the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Even the phrase “undocumented immigrant” seems to irk conservative Americans, who more commonly prefer “illegal alien” as well as the crude shorthand: “illegal.” As if breaking a law in a broken system is all that defines a family seeking a better life. But I digress.
I recently returned from three months studying and interning in Beijing. I noticed something unsettling when I returned to America: I had stopped Googling things. When I had a question, I simply let it formulate and then vanish. In China, I did not have a VPN on my phone and relying on Bing is like being led by a blind guide through the ill-lit cave of the Internet. It once returned a WikiHow page on how to raise a child when I looked up some song lyrics. And so I stopped trying to find things out.
Betsy DeVos’ changes to the sexual assault portion of Title IX is understood by many as a deterioration of an already flawed system for survivors of sexual trauma on college campuses. This legislative action, announced last week, follows critiques of Title IX from men’s rights activists and from lawyers of students who felt they had been wrongly accused. Considering President Donald Trump’s administration’s track record with women, there is no question that the assessment is true.
Michel de Montaigne is widely considered to be the first modern essayist. “The Essais,” which in Middle French means “attempts” or “trials,” were the products of Montaigne’s sometimes messy ruminations. He freely admitted these were abundant with inconsistencies and contradictions. However, now compiled in books well over 1,000 pages long, “The Essais” is one of the most significant contributions to Western thought.