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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Our Fate Is What We Make It

It's an embarrassing mix of anger, humility and frustration. It's a situation we Dartmouth students experience countless times during our interims and off terms. It's the feeling you get when you say: "I go to Dartmouth," and are met only with a perplexed look; the clueless response of "Huh? What's that?"

This might raise an eyebrow. How can someone not know Dartmouth? Ask the same person if they know Harvard, Yale or Princeton, and they will recognize these schools immediately. We are a top ranked Ivy League university. Harvard, Princeton and Yale are household names; yet we compete with, and in some departments, trump those three schools in terms of academics. But I bet you three out of four people on the street probably can't even pronounce the word Dartmouth if given it in writing.

Some would argue they prefer to have a subdued status. If you prefer this, I suggest you say you go to college in "New Hampshire." The name Dartmouth ought to shake the walls of a room when it is slipped into a conversation. A son or daughter of Dartmouth should be able to make waves like a man or woman of Harvard does with the name-drop. I'm not saying we should be come Harvard-like. We can maintain our tremendous identity while gaining an equal footing with the other mighty three Ivies.

Lack of the lime-light may be a frustrating situation, but is it a problem? Absolutely; visibility is inherently related to quality of education and financial support. Dartmouth is an amazing university, but with the prestige of a school like Princeton, our classes, libraries and resources could only get better. If we are perceived to be the leader, we will be treated like the leader.

Part of my frustration comes in how everyone blames the economy and budget short fall--that even if we did want to launch a branding campaign, it would cost money. This is false. We can make Dartmouth a better school without much money. We have to understand that it's all about the way people perceive us.

Kabir Sehgal writes of the same idea in his editorials, arguing for the push of a Dartmouth brand. I would like to further this idea, and contend that not only ought Dartmouth administration work towards better name recognizability through branding, but also that it is our job as students to help the cause.

Dartmouth has already started this pursuit through "Bring Dartmouth Home," a program that helps students connect with high schools in their hometown over break, promoting applications by meeting with youngsters to discuss Dartmouth. This program ought to be pursued more aggressively. It is our duty as Dartmouth students to find those kids that would otherwise fall into the hands of Harvard and Yale, and get them to the Green.

Something could be devised to increase the use of "Bring Dartmouth Home." Perhaps a point system could be in place, and the student that brings in the most new applications from his school could win some prize. The financial cost of giving away a DVD player or stereo is paltry compared to the gain of new applications. New applications mean better students, better ratings and finally, raised prestige.

Official administrative programs are not the only way to tackle the problem. Everyday we ought to ask ourselves what we are doing for Dartmouth. I'm sure years from now we will be making our financial contributions to the College, but what about now? Prestige is not something we can buy in the future; it is something we have to work towards now.

Do you know a student who would make Dartmouth a better place, but is considering Harvard because she thinks the diploma from Cambridge, Mass., will probably look a little better hanging in the future office? Talk to her, persuade her, and convince her that she needs to come to Dartmouth. Let her in on the little secret the world has yet to discover: Dartmouth truly is the best school in the Ivy League.

Everyday, wake up and ask yourself: "What can be done?" Many of us are engaged in high-visibility internships during our off-terms. Take every opportunity to promote the Dartmouth name to other interns, your boss and staff. Buy Dartmouth coffee cups for your employers so they can display the big green "D" on their desk. If you are working on the campaign trail for Howard Dean, use every ounce of persuasion available to bring his attention to Dartmouth and perhaps to plan events there that will garner media attention.

Never consider your efforts insignificant, all us can be drops of water in the soon to be tidal wave of the Dartmouth Brand. Cast your stone, however small. Make a splash.

The Dartmouth name is powerful; unfortunately, we have yet to take advantage of this power. We, the students, must do our part to push the Dartmouth brand. We must bring the name Dartmouth to the forefront of the nation; by doing this we can remain certain Dartmouth will continue to be an academic powerhouse, providing the best education one can receive. We all say we love Dartmouth, let's show just how much we really do. Let's awaken the sleeping behemoth that is Dartmouth.