Attend Pelton's 'Town Meeting'

by THE DARTMOUTH EDITORIAL BOARD | 1/26/95 6:00am

Being part of a community carries certain responsibilities.

For this reason, students should attend the "town meeting" at 8 p.m. in Collis Common Ground tonight to discuss the "Report on the First-Year Experience."

The meeting, called by Dean of the College Lee Pelton, will provide the first opportunity for the entire student body to voice its opinion concerning the plan, which will fundamentally change the Dartmouth experience.

The "town meeting" is not a one-sided public relations stunt; Pelton called tonight's meeting to provide students with an opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposal.

The report's critics and supporters will debate the program in a public arena, informing community members in a structured setting.

Even though Pelton's plan will not directly affect anybody who attends this meeting, students should attend because the First-Year Report will shape the larger Dartmouth community of which everyone at this school is a part.

Some students seek to reduce the Committee on the First-Year Experience's 32-page report to simple sound bites -- "freshman dormitories," "new housing arrangements" and "residential classrooms." But the report is more comprehensive than such simplifications.

Students must have the facts before true debate can begin. While many students do not have the time to read the full report, the "town meeting" will provide this information.

For those students who cannot attend the town meeting, the pamphlet, "Enriching the First-Year Experience," released in September, provides a viable alternative. Students' first option should be to attend Pelton's meeting. But if they cannot, they should take the time to read the pamphlet, so they can make an intelligent contribution to the debate.

Students must not rush to quick judgment -- either positive or negative -- on the report. As members of the College community, every current College student must become a critical thinker and objective participant.

Each student must evaluate his or her own freshman experience and decide if Pelton's alternative experience is better. Tonight's meeting is the first step in making this decision.

Students should go and debate the merits of the First-Year Report tonight. They owe it to themselves, the community and future freshman classes to be informed participants in this debate.