Our College

by Marc Fenigstein | 4/13/99 5:00am

For an unknown reason the students of Dartmouth College have decided that they are not important and that they cannot make a difference. We have resigned ourselves to apathy and inaction. We were presented with a choice last term: create our own social system or let the Trustees and the administration (henceforth referred to as "the system" because I think that's funny). Some of us have been inactive in the hope that they will choose what we think they're going to choose, and I guess the rest of us have decided to be inactive in the hope that they won't choose what we think they're going to choose (the logic is astounding). Do we care that little how we live our lives, that we leave this kind of decision in the hands of bunch of middle aged WASPs? (no offense intended, just aiming for shock value)

The administration wants something radical, and if we don't decide something we're all going to have little microchips surgically implanted up our butts, so that doors automatically unlock for us, we never have to swipe a card at Food Court, and the college knows our BAC at any given moment. We will all live on campus, and be assigned to random roommates in random locations. We will be required to consume exactly the US recommended daily allowance of all registered vitamins and nutrients, and will get electric shocks and migraine headaches if we skip class. My point is that we have no idea what they're going to do. That may be the reason that you haven't gotten involved thus far, but it is exactly the reason you need to get involved.

We don't know what the Trustees' principles really mean, so we need to give them our own meaning. We need to come up with ideas. Anything you want; it can be an idea for a single building or lots of them, a general philosophy, a new governing body, or a way for you to meet new people. Here's some ideas to get you're juices flowing:

  1. A giant Lone Pine where students tend bar and you can pay in cash. The booths (of which there'd be more), pool tables, and stage (which would be bigger) would be in the same room. A large variety of really good beers would be available in bottles or on tap roughly at cost. S&S would be banned (or be forced to wear pink and lace so that any sense of authority they may think they might have would be out the door) and students would regulate. You could drink as much as you want, but in that type of environment what are the odds of someone wetting their pants and vomiting on themselves while two sketchballs engage in premarital unprotected sex in the corner.

  2. Dorm clusters could have a party room and a party budget. Alcohol would be allowed but not necessary. Four guys and four girls would live together in a monster room, with huge party capabilities. Groups of eight would apply for the room at the beginning of the year and then be responsible for throwing ragers for the rest of the year. If they failed they would be ridiculed mercilessly by their neighbors for wasting the cash and making the cluster look lame.

  3. Any room that houses three or more people could be coed. The "System" wants "substantially coeducational" and "increased interaction" (and lots and lots of "quotation marks")? They can start by letting us live with our friends regardless of class or gender.

If I can't inspire you to start thinking about this, maybe scaring the bejeesus out of you (everyone has bejeesus, regardless of religion, and they CAN be scared out of you) will light a fire under your collective asses. Here's the gist of a little idea I've heard is floating around the "System:" there will be twenty houses available to student groups every year. Your group has to apply for them with a statement of their members qualifications, their mission statement, and their programming plans. The decision of who gets the houses would be made by (you guessed it) the "System." They would decide who gets to be a strong group and who gets to be a weak one, and continuity would be out the window because the houses could change hands every year. This is only one idea of many floating around and it will probably never happen, but they ARE considering it. For crying in the mung, I know we can do better than that.

So start thinking and start writing, I don't care if it's barely literate rambling or a doctoral thesis, as long as it's English or something close. Send it to me (co-chair of student working group on principle 3, which meets at 7 p.m. Sundays in 101 Collis), send it to jenp (she's the other co-chair), send it to the Task Force (but Carbon Copy it to us, because we're better), send it to your friends (who should then send it to us), or send it to your ex (I'm sure they'd be psyched to hear from you). Just don't let them think that we don't care. It is the students (and the remote Northeastern location) that make Dartmouth what it is, don't let them take that away from us.