Year 2000 brings news worthy of millennium to Hanover

by Alice Gomstyn | 11/22/00 6:00am

It hardly seems possible that the year that began with Peter Jennings anchoring 24 hours of global News Year's Eve coverage could have sailed by almost as quickly as its televised introduction. But in that time, the start of the new millennium brought with it many significant events to Hanover that will be remembered well into the future.

At Dartmouth, as throughout much of the world, the year 2000 began with the disaster that wasn't. "Y2K" -- the much-hyped technological crisis predicted to cause mayhem around the globe by sending thousands of computerized systems into date-centered shock -- left the campus largely unharmed. Students returned to the College in January to find everything, except an old version of BlitzMail, in perfect working order.

Still, that January at Dartmouth was not lacking in excitement. By the middle of the month the steering committee released its final report on the Student Life Initiative, calling for major changes to the Greek system.

Several months later, after a period spent gathering student opinion, the Board of Trustees released its own report detailing Board members' decisions on how to implement the steering committee's recommendations, including moving rush to Winter term and instituting a new cluster system for residence halls.

Despite some student disapproval, the College has already instituted many of the reforms suggested in the report, including the experimentation with freshman-only housing and the removal of permanent bars and tap systems at Greek houses.

Greeks also faced the derecognition of Phi Delta Alpha fraternity, the probation of Psi Upsilon fraternity for their much-loved Keg Jump and the secession of Delta Delta Delta sorority from the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council.

Students were also shaken by allegations of large-scale cheating in an introductory computer science class. The scandal, which attracted attention from college publications across the nation as well as from The Boston Globe, stemmed from visiting professor Rex Dwyer's allegation that at least 40 students in his Computer Science 4 class plagiarized an assignment he had posted on the Internet.

The number of alleged cheaters eventually grew to over 70. The Committee on Standards began an investigation into Dwyer's accusations, but eventually found that, given the nature of the material allegedly plagiarized, distinguishing guilty students from those who received help from teaching assistants was next to impossible. As a result, all students suspected of honor code violations were exonerated.

Dwyer, who was criticized by many throughout the incident for his handling of the class and the accusations, resigned from his post at the end of February and expressed disgust with the way the situation was handled.

The following month, the College found itself dealing with another technology issue -- students' use of music acquisition services such as Napster and Gnutella.

Approximately 70 schools in the United States had taken action to block on-campus use of such programs, sparking concern from some students that Dartmouth would follow suit. The College, however, took no steps to prohibit students' use of Napster and its competitors, and continues to avoid instituting any such restrictions.

Campus MP3 lovers may still find reason to grumble, however -- Napster, after being embroiled in two lawsuits threatening to shut down the service, recently announced its intention to start charging users for access to its music files.

While students' musical entertainment options may become somewhat limited as a result of the events of this year, the same cannot be said for another, albeit less popular, form of entertainment available on campus -- television. This term the College installed a 65-channel cable system, now available in every dorm room.

Another, more prominent, physical addition was made to the Campus this year. After its controversial inception and many months of unsightly construction, Berry Library opened in early October. The library features printing services, more and better-lit study areas and a late-night caf, but was criticized by many students for its cold and unwelcoming feeling.

A source of excitement both on and off campus this year has been the as yet unfinished presidential election. With New Hampshire being the site of the nation's first primary, the campus witnessed a flurry of activity in the early winter, including visits from many primary candidates. The on-campus excitement eventually ebbed, however, as media attention shifted to other states holding critical primaries.

The results of the general election returned some focus to the College, with all four Dartmouth alumni successfully regaining their seats in the House of Representatives and Washington Senator Slade Gorton '49 locked in a still uncalled, but increasingly favorable, election.