Answer the question
Are things at Dartmouth College better than when you first got here?
Students and professors, employees and administrators, alumni and the Board of Trustees should all pause for a moment or two of introspection.
How is Dartmouth College doing these days?
The question is asked often by college guide books and national media surveys of American schools, by prospective students and their parents.
In a discussion about his years as College President, James Freedman said, "You go to bed thinking they may not say anything about you 25 years from now. You have to work for the moment and you hope eventually people say you strengthened the place."
The burden of responsibility for strengthening this place lies as much on the shoulders of each student as it does on the desks of the officers in Parkhurst.
Hope for a general improvement in the condition of society is certainly not a new concept. The citizens of ancient Athens swore an oath dedicating themselves to obeying the laws and to improving their city.
The oath was later taken by students enrolling in the Ephebic College and has been adopted by many American schools in a variety of forms. The crux of the Ephebic oath is "I will not leave this city any less, but rather greater and better than I found it."
The citizens of Dartmouth should be equally accountable. They should not leave this campus any less, but rather greater than they found it.
Practically, what does this mean?
It means putting aside the silly political squabbles and selfish motivations in campus organizations and working to accomplish real goals. Stop the personal bickering and get on with it all.
It means professors concentrating on teaching course material, on increasing the knowledge of their students -- not indoctrinating them with political leanings of one sort or another. Students should take control of their own education, but the College must develop a formal academic advising process to facilitate interaction between teachers and students.
It means administrators taking proactive roles to improve the College, not escaping with politic excuses. There should be gender equity in the gym and in social organizations.
It means honest discourse and fair discussion on issues that affect the entire community. Dean of Faculty James Wright should release the report on the education department.
It means a refocus on educational purpose. Too often Dartmouth students divide college life into worktime and playtime. More effort should be devoted to carrying the lessons of the classroom out into real life. A true love of learning means finding practical applications to intellectual concepts. At Dartmouth that means more time applauding in the arena of books and less time worshipping at the shrine of the keg.
Cheers to Karl Furstenberg and the high quality of students being admitted. But it also means remembering pure intelligence does not substitute for ambition, motivation, interest and desire and, most of all, a sense of purpose and dedication.
Dartmouth, ask yourself: are you working for the moment? Will you leave this place better than you found it?