2000-04: An in-depth look at Dartmouth in the 21st century

by Zachary Goldstein | 9/10/04 5:00am

From the highs to the lows, a look back at the last four years at Dartmouth.

2000-2001

Freshman year began with Dartmouth Outing Club trips and Orientation, as it does with every new Dartmouth class. But Fall 2000 also heralded the opening of Berry Library after more than two years of construction, three years of controversy and eight years of planning. The Class of 2004 was the last to experience Baker Library as its own entity.

In October Roger Klorese '77 announced a $1 million donation to create a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Program Fund.

The rest of the fall was calm and relatively uneventful, but as the calendar year changed, so did the mood on campus. On Jan. 27, 2001, Dartmouth received national media attention not for its accomplishments, but for a local tragedy. Professors Half and Susanne Zantop were found murdered in their Etna home just miles from campus. The two beloved professors were important figures in the Dartmouth community -- Susanne as the chair of the German department and Half as a professor of earth science. The murders appeared senseless, with no apparent rationale.

Nearly a month later, the police arrested local teenagers Robert Tulloch and James Parker of Chelsea, Vt., for the murders of the two professors. The two were apprehended in New Castle, Ind., on Feb. 20, in the process of hitchhiking their way to California.

The rationale behind the killings was seemingly inexplicable, as the two teenagers were plotting to steal bank cards and PIN numbers, kill witnesses, and use the money to flee to Australia.

On March 26, officials released information that blood on two knives in the bedroom of Tulloch matched Susanne Zantop's DNA. On April 4, 2002, Tulloch, 18, pleaded guilty to charges of premeditated murder, accepting two life sentences against the advice of his lawyers who had urged him to go to trial. Parker, 17, accepted a plea bargain, which accepts guilt to accomplice to second-degree murder and carries a sentence of 25 years to life with the possibility of parole.

Much of the other activity that defined the year was focused on cracking down on the Greek system.

In January, the Office of Residential Life notified Psi Upsilon fraternity that it was pulling the plug on their annual keg jump event. The College's insurance company had withdrawn coverage of the event, so the event was cancelled and is not expected to return to Winter Carnival.

In March, ORL placed severe sanctions on Psi U for misconduct stemming from an event in which brothers shouted racist and misogynistic remarks at a female passerby. The comments, including "Wah-hoo-wah, scalp those bitches," garnered the house two terms of social probation.

On the heels of the Psi U incident, Zeta Psi fraternity was embroiled in a scandal involving a house newsletter known as the "Zete sex papers." The papers included lewd references to sexual acts between Zete brothers and named female students, one of whom brought the newsletter to the attention of the administration. The newsletter also advertised date-rape techniques to be featured in the next issue. While Zete leaders contended that the papers were meant to be purely satirical, the administration did not buy the argument, and ORL permanently derecognized the house. Zete appealed the decision and lost.

In response to the two Greek incidents, 101 faculty members signed a letter to the Board of Trustees and College President James Wright urging the College to revisit the issue of radically reforming or abolishing the Greek system.

Changes to the Greek system continued into the summer when the College banned outdoor consumption of alcohol at Greek houses, a policy based on the Student Life Initiative's principle of consistency among all types of residential buildings.

The College also announced random Safety and Security walkthroughs, though a settlement was later reached with the Greek Leadership Council and the College to give advance notice of the inspections each week.

After serving as the College's second-highest administrator for two years, Susan Prager stepped down from the position of provost on July 1. Associate provost Barry Scherr was named the new provost.

Susan Dentzer '77 was elected as the Chair of the Board or Trustees in June. Dentzer has played a large role in the release of the Student Life Initiative.

2001-2002

The year 2001 began in the wake of national tragedy and continued local tragedy. While investigations into the Zantop murders were still ongoing, the events of Sept. 11 shook the nation, and the ensuing war in Afghanistan held the attention of students all year.

Panel discussions about the attacks and their aftermath drew crowd of over 200. Enrollment in courses relating to the Middle East and Islam, such as Introductory Arabic and Intro to the Islamic World, skyrocketed. In the spring term Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak gave speeches to large crowds in Spaulding Auditorium.

Concerns about terrorism also impacted the spring art history foreign study program in Florence. Five Dartmouth students returned to campus after the State Department warned that Florence was a potential terrorist site on Easter Sunday. The threats never materialized.

The annual fall housing shortage was exacerbated when an unusually high percentage of admitted freshman (the Class of 2005) matriculated. In order to alleviate the problem, ORL constructed six temporary dorms, know as the Tree Houses, near the River Cluster. The Tree Houses are still standing and in use.

With national economic slowdowns contributing to a negative return on the endowment, Dartmouth announced campus-wide budget cuts of 1.5 to 2 percent, to impact every area of the College. On a related note, the Board of Trustees raised tuition 4.5 percent to $27,600, the largest increase in four years.

Greenprint also made its debut, replacing the old Berry printing window.

Greek news was more positive than previous years. The GLC decision to allow freshmen at Greek parties was met with widespread approval by both students and administrators. Some Greek organizations have continued to keep their doors closed during some parties, however.

The year also marked the first year of winter rush, which will return to fall rush this year, just in time for the Class of 2007.

That winter also featured a conjunctivitis (pink eye) epidemic of unusual potency. Over 400 students were estimated to have contracted the disease, bringing representatives from the New Hampshire Center for Disease Control to campus. Warnings against unnecessary eye contact and bottles of disinfectant were dispensed in an attempt to combat the outbreak, which continued into the Spring.

Finally, security concerns prompted the installation of electronic door locks on all campus residence halls in the Summer of 2002.

Dean of the Faculty Jamshed Bharucha stepped down and was replaced by Michael Gazzaniga, who himself has just resigned.

2002-2003

The Fall term of 2002 was marked by budget woes, as the College announced across-the-board budget cuts.

The first to feel the hit was the library system, which had $1 million sliced from its budget. The library cuts forced College Librarian to integrate Sherman Art Library into the Baker-Berry complex and turn Sanborn Library into a reading room. Despite student protests, the library budget cuts remained.

However, students were not nearly as passive after the administration made its next announcement, cutting the swimming and diving teams. The decision was intended to compensate for the cuts necessary in the athletic department. Administrators decided it was better to cut one team entirely than hurt every team by cutting a little from each. But students didn't buy into that argument.

The day after the cuts were announced, hundreds of students marched through campus chanting in protest before staging a midnight rally in front of Dean of the College James Larimore and College President Wright's houses.

Students and alumni responded in force, gathering donations to help reinstate the teams. Students, alumni, parents and administrators reached an agreement in early January allowing Dartmouth's swimming and diving program to continue. The John C. Glover Fund for the Support of Swimming and Diving will provide over $2 million in funding to keep the team alive for at least the next 10 years.

Departmental cuts also forced some departments to downsize course offerings, despite Wright's firm insistence in a speech to the faculty that the academic integrity of the College would not be compromised.

Additionally, the Board of Trustees again upped tuition by a record percentage, increasing it 4.9 percent, the highest increase in at least five years.

In Greek news, winter rush was extremely successful for fraternities, sororities and coed houses, but was particularly important for Phi Delta Alpha fraternity. Phi Delt had been suspended in 2000 indefinitely, but ORL granted the house colony status in winter 2003 to conduct its first pledge class in three years. Over 50 Phi Delt alumni returned to host rush events for the fraternity, which offered prospective members the unique opportunity of joining an empty house.

New revisions to the alcohol policy that required all alcoholic events of over 40 people to be registered with the College, and limited each house to two registered events per week were met with criticism, but remain in place.

The budget woes continued into the Spring term with even more cuts. Having lost its funding, the human biology department shut its doors at the end of Spring term, saving the College $61,000. Budget woes also led Dartmouth Dining Services to discontinue the Big Green Bean entertainment area in Collis, though the College and the Student Assembly assured students that no jobs would be cut.

Incumbent Student Body President Janos Marton '04 won a landslide victory garnering 74 percent of the vote, becoming the first two-time Assembly president in College history.

Despite worldwide fears of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Dartmouth pledged not to impose quarantines on students traveling from infected areas because of racial profiling concerns. Even so, College health officials remained wary, sending mass e-mails to students warning of the effects of SARS and how to detect the symptoms. SARS worries did lead the Off-Campus Programs office to cancel the Foreign Study Program in Beijing over the summer. Other universities, including Yale, also cancelled programs in the region.

At the beginning of the summer the U.S. Supreme Court decided in two cases involving the University of Michigan's admissions policies. Earlier in the year the College had filed a brief with the Court defending Michigan's use of race as a factor in admissions. The decisions handed down by the court confirmed this tenet of higher education admissions, but struck down the University of Michigan undergraduate school's specific points-based system.

2003-2004

Last year, Dartmouth became heavily involved in national politics as the January New Hampshire Democratic primary drew near. Democratic presidential candidates came to campus to rally support in the weeks leading up to the nation's first and most-watched primary. They capitalized on anti-war sentiment and proposed policies and reacted to political controversies.

As the New Hampshire primary drew closer, four major Democratic candidates visited campus last term. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, the front-runner for much of the race, unveiled his national higher education plan in a November speech. Dartmouth also saw visits from Retired General Wesley Clark, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and eventual victor Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

On Jan. 25, Dean, Lieberman and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich debated before a crowd in Moore Theatre at a forum sponsored by Lifetime Television and ABC's "Good Morning America."

The College also saw a dramatic change in the composition of its Board of Trustees, as the Board voted to add six seats over the next 10 years, which was only the second size increase of the Board in College history.

The Student Assembly's search for a new College mascot, which began the previous spring, came to an end this fall when a majority of students polled by the Assembly expressed their disapproval of the moose, which had previously emerged as the most popular choice for a new mascot.

Nic Duquette '04 and Chris Plehal '04, both of the Jack-o-Lantern humor magazine, responded to the Assembly's mascot search by creating Keggy the Keg, whose appearance at the Homecoming football game made him an overnight sensation. Keggy's popularity got him mentioned on ESPN, in Playboy magazine and other national news outlets.

A Dr. Seuss-themed Winter Carnival promised the rebirth of the Psi U keg jump at an off-campus location. However, dreams of the keg jump's rebirth were quashed as the weekend saw unusually warm weather. As winter and spring rush again proved successful for most Greek houses, the Spring term saw the re-recognition of Phi Delt as a College fraternity.

College administrators and Greek leaders also agreed to move rush to the fall beginning this year.

Finally, the College continued to be one of the most selective institutions in the country, accepting only 18.3 percent of the nearly 12,000 students who applied. The students matriculating for the next year's freshman, the Class of 2008, had an average SAT score of 1460.