The Week

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 11/22/02 6:00am

Disappointing Delays

This week, the House of Representatives voted to postpone the completion of the federal budget until next year, extending current funding levels until mid-January. The decision not to perform one of Congress' most important duties -- and one of its few responsibilities specifically designated in the Constitution -- is unacceptably lax.

It is expected and sometimes understandable for Congress to become deadlocked over controversial pieces of legislation, but the drafting, revision and ultimate approval of a budget is a task that calls for greater exercise of bipartisan cooperation. Politics is the art of compromise, and this Congress' failure to come to an agreement before year's end will hamper the functions of federally funded agencies -- including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI, both of which, given the current emphasis on corporate responsibility and homeland security, require more financial support to cope with expanded workloads.

The House's vote to delay budgetary decisions until its next term is a sad example of government ineptitude. It is imperative that procrastination does not become Congress' standard response to its most important, albeit difficult, tasks.

Unnecessary Apprehension

Recently, students requesting tests for sexually-transmitted diseases have been left confused and worried by Dick's House staff claiming that the administration of tests wastes time and money.

Though we recognize that variations in procedure are necessary to deal with people on a case-by-case basis, no one should ever be turned away from such a test with questions unanswered. Dick's House has a responsibility to educate and ensure the health of Dartmouth students, and when a staff member discourages students from monitoring their health, Dick's House has failed to uphold both of these responsibilities.

A clear procedure for handling these cases would go a long way toward comforting students who are nervous about their health. When tests are conducted, patients have a right to know what is being done and why the practitioner thinks it is necessary. If a student is advised not to undergo certain tests, clear reasons must be given that the student understands and appreciates. Students shouldn't leave a health clinic feeling guilty about seeking treatment.

A Moral Divestment

Although tobacco-related investments make up less than 1 percent of the College's endowment, Dartmouth has the moral obligation to ensure that its endowment is invested in a socially responsible manner. In the case of tobacco companies, the negative public health consequences of cigarette smoking are well-documented.

Divestment of tobacco holdings would make a strong statement that Dartmouth is unwilling to have its financial health tied to a worsening worldwide public health problem. The University of Michigan has already divested from tobacco companies, and officials at the university say their divestment has not in any way negatively impacted its investment returns.

In 1 989, the Board of Trustees divested from South Africa, unwilling to do business with a country and corporations supporting apartheid. Once again, the College must not fall short of its broader social and moral obligations.

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