I don't claim to have all the answers. But I do have a vision. Before I decided to run, I started to think about why I came to Dartmouth. More than the professors, the classes, or the scenic campus, I came to Dartmouth because of the people -- because of you. The reality has been that the people at Dartmouth have been even more amazing than I expected. We are so diverse, so talented, and have had such incredible life experiences. Too often we forget this. But think for a second about some of the remarkable people you have met. Think about your own accomplishments. When we leave this school, I hope that we have had as many opportunities as possible to have shared these experiences with each other.
Unfortunately, this doesn't happen as well as it should. The campus is too often segregated along racial lines, along lines of Greek and non-Greek, and otherwise. This is a sad reality, and the Trustees have a point when they talk about increasing diverse social interaction.
Clearly, breaking down these barriers is an issue that goes beyond Dartmouth to society at large, and there is no single prescription for solving this. However, there are definitely some general approaches we can take on campus.
First, the Student Assembly should not be part of the problem.
Unfortunately, the Student Assembly is often seen as being cliquish and unapproachable. Many tell me that it is not representative of campus views.
In all fairness, the Assembly certainly has made some strides. It has made attempts to help break down barriers by providing $1,000 each term towards a campus-unifying event. Its membership has increased in both size and diversity.
But let's not be content with what has been done. The Assembly can undoubtedly be more open, active, and visible. It is so extraordinary that all of these general themes can build on each other to achieve tangible results. The more people represented and involved, the greater the legitimacy of the Student Assembly will be. It is this type of strong, active Assembly that can mobilize students and administrators alike. As a unified voice, we can make sure that the administration is accountable to us. If we get our act together, this ideal can be reached.
I've been here long enough to realize that there can never be one unanimous campus opinion, that there will always be people who hold minority viewpoints. These are the types of people the Assembly needs most. We need people to question the traditional role and perspectives the Assembly takes. More importantly, we need the Assembly to be a place where everybody feels comfortable voicing their opinion. Like I said before, when people think of ideas or issues they want addressed, I hope they will turn to the Student Assembly before they write a column in The D. If you have a problem, tell me. I may not agree with you on everything, but you can be sure that I'll be willing to hear whatever you have to say. I want the Assembly to be the campus pipeline of ideas, interaction and results.
It's important to emphasize that this "Assembly" I keep talking about is not some obscure club that's hard to reach. It's you. It's me. It's us. Not all of us might choose to join it, but all of us should feel like we are represented in it.
I could have provided a laundry list of services and changes that the Student Assembly should provide -- obviously we need to work to reduce the ludicrous fines, create a student-based course/professor evaluation guide, and increase student space. These are things that people in the Student Assembly have worked on and will continue to work on in the coming years. But the underlying necessity that will allow these projects to become reality is to create a more broad and inclusive Student Assembly that will be legitimate in both the eyes of the students and the administration. As president, that is the framework I will work to create.
Thanks to The Dartmouth for giving all of the candidates an opportunity to talk directly to the students this week. I hope you all come out to speech night tonight in the Commonground, and I hope you all manage to vote next week.
We're in the midst of a revolution at Dartmouth. We were forced to stand on the sidelines and watch as the trustees dictated to us their five principles for our school. Let's not be in a position where we stand and watch while others dictate their plans to implement those principles. Student participation and interaction is what this campus needs most, and I'm confident we can get there together. It's Our School, Our Assembly.