A Question of Initiative
How many of you actually know what the big yellow trucks behind Baker are doing? For the first three months they were there, we only noticed the construction because it forced us to take a detour en route to fraternity row on Saturday nights. If we did stop to think about what was going on, we just figured that the library expansion was already underway.
Only a few days ago did we realize what the real purpose is -- the building of new steam tunnels. Steam tunnels? There is apparently an invisible underground network of them connecting the entire school. Say that again?
We often walk around without understanding why so many changes are taking place here and we don't think that we are the only ones who feel left out of the decisions. Recent changes in Dartmouth Dining Services riled up almost every person I know and the revamping of the New Dorms had people saying, "a super cluster?"
The point isn't to say that it is the administration's duty to constantly inform us. It is really up to the students to seek out the information that they need and to try to make the changes that are important to them.
The College is a business, and as such it is run by the administration as they think is best. However, when students take the initiative and try to work within the system to make changes, the system as a whole works infinitely better.
It is totally possible to work within the system. One example (with which we are very familiar) demonstrates this -- the allocation of space for a coffeehouse/24-hour study area in the library expansion. A member of the '99 Class Council fortunately found out that important initial plans for the library expansion were being made this spring. Although it took a lot of convincing, the Class Council was able to take advantage of the opportunity to help make a change that everyone can enjoy, students and faculty alike, although it probably won't be finished until our class has graduated. As happy as we are with the success, we realize that we could just as easily not have heard about these early plans and missed out on the chance to have what students need in a $25 million expansion. If someone hadn't taken action in 1996, the library would be a bigger, better library in the year 2000, but without a place to get coffee and study that is as close to you as a blitz computer.
The administration will listen to students, but they have to hear them at the right time. We only have four years here, and people often take an individualistic outlook on the development of the college. Projects are being developed all the time, but we don't even see them until there is a mound of earth as high as the trees next to some odd building, or Full Fare turned into Chicken Fare.
It is easy to forget that there is a huge future ahead for this school, and we can have an impact on the direction that the College takes. We have heard comments like, "that group? Do they even DO anything?" We sometimes say it ourselves. But if you are asking that kind of a question, how do you really know what they do? Students should and can work within the system to create places for themselves and for students to come. The only time it is too late is when the jackhammer sounds.