We Didn't Start the Fire
On a chilly winter night, there is nothing quite like sitting around a crackling fire with your dearest friends. In addition to enhancing the ambience of the campus, fireplaces are an asset to the community and are a symbol indicating that students can be trusted to act in a safe manner. The College must act quickly and efficiently to end the moratorium on their use although ORL's actions were understandable -- the lack of fire insurance is not an option on a college campus.
Insurance companies are quick to insist upon stricter regulations in the wake of dorm fires such as the tragedy at Seton Hall last winter. Dartmouth student fireplaces do not meet current code and their use is not monitored by the College, but the Seton Hall fire was caused by arson, not an unwatched fireplace. There are plenty of other potential fire hazards -- an untended pot can as easily cause a kitchen fire as an unsafe fireplace could trigger a problem. Dartmouth must put forth a strong effort immediately to make the fireplaces available for student use as soon as they are physically safe and negotiate with its current insurance company -- or else find another insurance company to work with.
The Best Things in Life Aren't Fees
The administration's decision to reduce some of the fines and fees levied against students was a good one, and the Student Assembly deserves credit for its efforts in bringing this about.
That said, the fees and fines system still requires a major overhaul.
Fines should be imposed as a deterrent -- not as a method for the College to raise revenue. Many unreasonable fines still exist. For instance, a student should not be fined for failing a physical education class after having paid to take the class. Students can decide whether or not to attend -- and whether to deal with the consequences when they want to graduate.
Students perceive the current fine system as abusive and devious -- abusive, in that students must pay significantly higher parking tickets than faculty members do; devious, in that students often are unaware that certain fines exist. Students must be better alerted about what fines exist -- and just as importantly, they should be notified when fines are levied against them. A student should also have the clear opportunity to appeal fines that they receive. While steps have been made in the right direction, the College has far to go in the effort to make this system fair.