This, after all, is Dartmouth
I really like tradition. Traditions like the Class of 1879 Trumpeters, who announced the beginning of today's Commencement Exercises from the top of Baker Tower. Traditions like the Lodge Crew show at Moosilauke Lodge, and its accompanying breakfast of green eggs and ham. Traditions like the Homecoming bonfire, and running around the base, in our case, 107 times. Traditions like Tubestock, which we all liked, and which made for some pretty unbelievable stories.
Tradition was a big part of my love affair with Dartmouth; for you, it may very well have been something different. Regardless of what initially made you bleed green, that which we've experienced over the past four years is legendary, dare I say the stuff of dreams. We've been given a gift, by the sacrifice of our parents and the stewardship of our alumni, that we all too often took for granted. Here, in a sleepy New England town we came to call home, we had everything at our fingertips. The library housed every imaginable resource from which we could shape new ideas and study the past. We redefined science in our labs. We gazed the stars from our Observatory. We broke records on our athletic fields (some of them, at least). We skied the slopes of our Skiway. We lived a dream, one which very few people get to experience.
I'm not talking about going to college; I'm talking about Dartmouth. A school so unique that we get into arguments over issues like "college vs. university," and "teaching vs. research," and still other issues few outside academe can understand. Dartmouth students have unparalleled opportunities at their disposal. I can't remember a time when I was told "no," or when I needed something and the College didn't find it or get it. For a place that is founded on inculcating reality, that's a strange contradiction.
The bricks and mortar of Dartmouth will continue to serve as shells for the intangible spirit that exists within them. It's the spirit defined by our friendships with faculty. The good feeling that runs through us at the daily ringing of the Alma Mater. The weird sensation that is the double-beep of BlitzMail. There is so much more that holds this place together, and despite the rhetoric of misguided nay-sayers, I am confident that Dartmouth is in no danger of losing its place as one of the world's most enduring institutions and most prestigious places of learning.
Having been the beneficiaries of a Dartmouth education, we are charged to give back. Not to Dartmouth " there will be plenty of people hitting us up for the rest of our lives. No, our debt is to the world. We learned, both inside and outside the classroom, of the immense struggles our civilization faces. We are involved in conflict against people who wish us dead; the rich are getting richer as the poor get poorer; people are sleeping hungry, not just in the third world, but miles away from the Green. Class of 2007, these are our problems. We cannot expect to have had the possibility of the past four years without making a change in society. Dartmouth gave us endless opportunities to lead, to communicate, to challenge ourselves. Doing it in the wilderness of New Hampshire let us take risks uncommon at other institutions. These advantages have to mean something. If Dartmouth graduates don't work to solve the world's problems, the solution will be subpar.
Look back on the mark we left at Dartmouth. We challenged the status quo of student governance. We stood up against hatred. We did not let the cries of hurricane victims go unanswered. We set the record for senior class giving. Yes, we left our mark at Dartmouth, but the privilege of a Dartmouth education begs for marks that are more profound.
It's time to reprioritize. We reminded each other this week of all the great things we're off to do. It's incredibly impressive, and it bodes well for Dartmouth. The good news is that we're well on our way to success. We are all poised to tackle the problems that plague our newly globalized society. While we work, let's do the College a favor and give it credit. Let's stop having to remind people where Dartmouth is located or for what it's known. But far more importantly, let's work like Daniel Webster (the founder of this newspaper) to fight for our country and for our beliefs. Let's leave our mark. Let's live up to what we know we can do.
President John Sloan Dickey '29 once said, "to create the power of competence without creating a corresponding direction to guide the use of that power is bad education." Let's have the courage and unselfishness to dedicate our education to more than our own desires. Let's strive for more, much more than the comfortable life. Do we simply sit back and relish in the shadows of tradition, or do we stake a claim in adding to the greatness of the traditions before us? Where should our class tradition lie?
We have more than enough challenges in the world we now enter that require the sweat and blood of dedication. Let us rise to the task, use our education, and pay back some of the privileges we were given. This, after all, is Dartmouth.