Imagine This

by Tom Leatherbee | 4/13/99 5:00am

No one would run for Student Assembly President who didn't love Dartmouth. But no one would run for Student Assembly President who loved all the things about Dartmouth. I know Dartmouth well enough to see its flaws. I love Dartmouth enough to be committed to addressing these flaws and making Dartmouth better.

The way I see it, one of the greatest flaws we currently face is the fact that students have no institutional voice. The Student Assembly, which is supposed to be the voice of the students, must lead the fight in not only making students' voices heard, but in making students' opinions a strong, institutionalized aspect of College decision-making. There are two things that the SA must do to accomplish these goals. First, we must truly respond to the needs and concerns of students, proving to everyone that we are the representative voice of the student body. Then, with the support and power of the student body behind us, the Student Assembly must fight the trustees and administration and must not back down until they give us the institutional voice we deserve. This is our Dartmouth. Imagine this:

Next year, if I am President of the Student Assembly, no student needs or wants will go unrecognized. I want to expand the A-Lot shuttle service to run more frequently. I want to continue the strides that this year's Assembly has made with addressing the problems of student fees and fines. I will continue to hold Dick's House to being more accessible and accountable. I am the perfect person to carry on the torch of this year's Assembly because I am such an active part of it. I fully understand all of the projects we are currently undertaking, and have the vision to see them through in the following year.

But no one should vote for a candidate simply because he vows to carry on what is already being done. A good president must be able to imagine new concepts for the future. I imagine a Dartmouth where no event fails to be put on because of lack of space. The SA must fight to get a replacement for Webster Hall. We also need more small programming spaces with fully equipped kitchens for student organizations. And if we are going to give student organizations places to program, we need to provide them with the money to program. The Student Assembly's Student Organizations Funding Task Force has already taken great strides in doing this, but the SA must go farther. We must tell the administration that we will no longer stand for a ban on outside fundraising for student organizations. The College must not only allow, but also encourage and support such fundraising.

I can also imagine a Dartmouth where we don't need to go to scheduled events to socialize. We need more casual social options. I have already secured a commitment from the administration to build a sports bar/night club in the former Hovey's Grill space. But that is not enough. The SA must fight to renovate dorm lounges and establish snack bars and excursive rooms. We deserve better and different residential options.

We deserve a better dining system. We need to continue the fight for Kosher dining, as well as push for increased vegetarian options. We need to bring back the delivery service that Food Court used to offer. We deserve a 24 hour dining hall. Speaking of late nights, we also need our gym to be open longer and our library to be open 24 hours a day. Remember, this is our Dartmouth, shouldn't it be awake as late as we are?

As the Student Assembly earns the trust of the students by catering to their needs, we must then all move forward together to address the trustees and administrators. So, they want to make Dartmouth more substantially coeducational? Then why on earth should we let them take away sororities, the safe space for women that provides both a social outlet and leadership opportunities, let alone fraternities that, as of now, provide the most popular space for interaction between the genders. Furthermore, if the trustees are as committed to coeducation as they say they are, we should tell them to put their money where there mouth is and build a new women's resource center, one that is visible, open and accessible to all students. While we're at it, why don't we tell the trustees to really address one of the biggest gender problems at Dartmouth -- sexual abuse. Sure we now have one whole month dedicated to the issue, but anyone who has been touched by sexual abuse will tell you that one

month is not nearly enough. Hey, they challenge us, isn't it high time we challenged them? Remember, this is our Dartmouth, not theirs.

Finally, we need to ensure the future of student involvement at our college. We cannot stand idly by and allow future classes to go through the feelings of lack of empowerment we have suffered ever since the Trustees issued their edict on how we ought to spend our own social time. We must fight for and win an institutional voice. By that I mean the following: All students must be allowed to vote in Trustee elections. We must have student Trustees. Students must be allowed to select, not just recommend, which of their peers will serve on college committees.

We need an institutional voice and we need to represent you.