Fall '06: Nothing Much?

by Zeke Turner | 1/8/07 6:00am

What do Keggy, the recent alumni constitution referendum, our campus' demonstrated prejudices against Native Americans and a broken desk in Reed Hall 108 have in common? Don't think too hard because the answer is nothing. Hindsight shows that Fall term 2006 was 10 weeks of glorious stagnation when we busied ourselves doing nothing in particular.

Sure we at Dartmouth have a lot to show for our lack of activity. We completed more construction and maybe deconstruction (if you count the demolition of the Shower Towers and Hitchcock's heating apparatus) than any previous term in our history. Meanwhile, our minds were working overtime on something called academics. Or was that just pong? We effectively made it clear that what we love doing more than anything is nothing.

You might be aware that our mascot is causing problems again. The real problem is that we don't have a mascot; our mascot is a gaping hole of self-righteousness where the Dartmouth Indian used to be. In 2003, the Student Assembly wasted its time trying to get Dartmouth students to vote on a new mascot like the Dartmoose, the Dartpenguin or the slightly less popular Granite Boulder. Eventually Janos Marton '04, then student body president, gave up the futile search for a college emblem and publicly welcomed Keggy into his heart and his campus. Fast-forward to 2007 and we are still talking about feeble attempts to coronate the Moose as king of our home games. Unfortunately these squabbles are a huge waste of time and quite boring. Nothing could be a more colossal waste of time.

Last fall we all grappled with the virtues of the proposed alumni constitution. Actually, there was no grappling at all because we students weren't given a vote. Last fall, we did nothing about a vote that had serious implications on the future of the College. Alas nothing happened, and the constitution failed. Ultimately, the alumni constitution taught us that if you ignore an issue, sometimes it will go away. Maybe our duck-and-cover move was our way of saying we like Dartmouth just the way it is. Plus, there are sexier issues than the alumni constitution.

Last fall offered a few days of excitement when we all thought a cabal of racists had infiltrated our serene New England village. All it took was a fraternity homecoming T-shirt, a disrupted drum circle and a Dartmouth Review cover to send us into a condemn-the-racist frenzy. Retrospectively, these offenses seem to be poor decision-making and unchecked recklessness incarnate. The Review published an apology of sorts for their heinous cover art. "In the discussions on the [The Review's] staff prior to publishing this issue, there were reservations about the cover." Apparently nothing was done about these reservations. Just as nothing was done about the T-shirt and nothing was done about the drum circle. If Josie Harper's apology letter for University of North Dakota was supposed to provide consolation for our Native American brothers and sisters it will be remembered as a failure. And if the Solidarity Against Hatred rally was supposed to make our friends feel safe again, that it did. But really nothing changed.

Although we were made to feel that there was some eruption of racism at Dartmouth this fall, really nothing happened. I don't mean to discount the pain and discomfort felt by our friends. But if a few entrepreneurial brothers of Gamma Delta Chi fraternity, some rowdy drunks and an office of irresponsible students with access to a printing press can cause such a racket, then the rest of us really are too quiet. When did the silent majority at Dartmouth become so patient and so subdued?

However, a chair in Reed Hall reminds me of last term's lethargy the most. It broke during the second week of the term and henceforth remained unused and unnoticed -- except by me. The chair waited patiently and decrepitly in pieces on the ground for somebody to repair or report it, but nobody had the time or wherewithal. What was once a seat was left to erode into a heap of nothing. And I was too busy to do something about it, too busy -- just like the rest of us -- doing nothing.

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