All the Free Newspapers
The admissions office is playing something new this year. Their fresh crop of high school seniors are walking around campus with big hopes, wide eyes and white envelopes with 2007 printed on them (the envelopes, that is). And even though our average SAT math score was only 715, the current seniors can subtract and know that they won't be around to lead this class away from the administration's glorious vision of a Dartmouth that resembles Princeton in every possible way.
So it behooves us to impart on those who follow us some of our cherished memories of rope swings, in-room food delivery and no smoothie bar in the waning days of our seniority. USA Today's Collegiate Readership program has given us a mere taste of a world free of the burden of newspaper purchases. It's hard to leave our academic world of milk and honey, even if you can't taste it in the food. All things must pass, though, and soon the program will be sorely missed.
I can think of 10 things I loved about the free newspapers:
1) They kept us safe from SARS. Last month, it was hard to get as excited about a virus as it was to get excited about Saddam Hussein. Why wash our hands when we could follow the "wave of steel" from Kuwait to Baghdad? Fortunately, the black newsprint of four extra-thick wartime newspapers kept Dartmouth vigilant about both the Third Infantry Division and provided us with incentives to keep our hands clean.
2) Free newspapers kept my DDS account from going into arrears. Now I have enough money to do my laundry. Ken the janitor would be rightly proud.
3) The New York Times' Wednesday food sections remind us of the culinary world outside Food Court, Panda House and Collis' pasta line. For the sole reason that my future diet won't include a weekly Double Bacon Cheeseburger with Freedom Fries, I appreciate a look at the thousand and one recipes using portabella mushrooms, fennel and glass noodles.
4) The Green is actually green for once. But it's not dry or free of mud. Thanks to the free papers, now my pants stay clean when I dine al fresco.
5) Those of us who the fates don't assign a dining partner have no need to maintain a facade of looking busy. We are busy. With all the news that's fit to print free of charge, there's no need to rationalize anti-social attitudes.
6) Black Flies face a far more formidable enemy than twelve pages of rolled-up The Dartmouth. A small new England college, even an Ivy, just doesn't generate enough news to intimidate the way that a Boston Globe Business section can.
7) Free newspapers give campus environmental groups a new lease on life during the dark days of a Republican congress acting in tandem with Bush. There's plenty of stuff for ECO reps to compost, plenty of trees cut down and nasty pollution for Dartmouth Greens reps to complain about, and a place for the real militants to read about how they improve the environment by distributing ersatz tickets to SUV drivers.
9) It's easier to house train a frat dog on a real newspaper then on The Dartmouth Review.
10) Did I mention that you can read them too?