Dartmouth is a college with character. From the bonfire and Keg Jump to Baker Tower and the BEMA, there exists a sense of community here that extends beyond any student's four years of study. In an effort to attract more and "better" people to this campus, recent decisions reflect a broad administrative desire to make Dartmouth more like other Ivy institutions. But no one should be making decisions about Dartmouth based on what other colleges are doing because Dartmouth is quite simply not like other colleges.
Instead, the College must preserve the uniqueness of Dartmouth and improve those qualities that other schools lack. With ever-increasing competition in higher education, every school must successfully differentiate itself from its peers. Oddly enough, many at this College seem intent on diminishing the role of currently abundant defining attributes and the built-in advantage they provide Dartmouth.
Dartmouth's rural setting is its most instantly recognizable distinction from the other Ivies. Yet even this is not left untouched in plans to separate the College from its own place in the academic world. Plans for the architectural overhaul of this campus include the combining of Thayer, Robinson and Collis Halls, a move which will enclose the open space through which student traffic now flows at all hours. This plan also threatens to displace the DOC from its central campus location, a decision that would hide away one of Dartmouth's strongest assets.
But the uniqueness of the College is not limited to its geographic location or structural design. What truly defines the College are the people it attracts, the atmosphere they create and the traditions they continue. Dartmouth students possess a sense of satisfaction and happiness. Unlike many other colleges, Dartmouth students do not thrive on ruthless competition -- one doesn't find missing pages in reserve readings or classmates unwilling to share notes. Just as the campus has character, so do its students.
Students already recognize the distinguishing qualities of Dartmouth that led them here and will keep them coming back. The administration must understand the importance of these qualities to the College's future success.