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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Alumnae celebrate, reflect at weekend

Over 350 alumnae returned to Hanover this weekend for a three-day program commemorating the 35th anniversary of coeducation at the College. The weekend was filled both with celebration and with contemplation of the struggles women at the College continue to face.

The weekend's events were dominated by panel discussions held throughout the day Saturday. Each themed panel was comprised of Dartmouth alumnae from various years with experiences in certain areas. Attendees listened to their experiences and participated in question-and-answer sessions.

One of the highlights of the weekend was Saturday night's dinner, which included an address by Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand '88, D-N.Y., who is the first female Dartmouth graduate to hold a congressional office.

In her speech, Gillibrand recognized multiple female mentors, both in her personal life and at Dartmouth, who helped her gain the confidence, drive and desire to reach where she is today.

"The opportunity to serve is beyond my wildest dreams," Gillibrand said to the audience.

Gillibrand also stressed importance of women's involvement in politics, citing the low number of females serving in the House and the Senate. Gillibrand emphasized the unique perspective that women bring to political discussion and encouraged the women in the audience to become involved with the political scene.

"It doesn't matter who you support, activism is what our democracy is all about," Gillibrand said.

Prior to her Saturday address, Gillibrand spent her time on campus meeting with students from organizations she was involved with during her time at the College, including Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She also participated in a public forum hosted by the Rockefeller Center that was open to all students. In an interview with The Dartmouth, Gillibrand said that the College has "not changed much."

"Everyone is very optimistic and determined to make a difference in life," Gillibrand said. "I met a lot of smart, intelligent people today, and they are our future."

The dinner closed with a rendition of the College's alma mater, which the alumni initiated.

"It's been wonderful to be here with these women," Jan Malcolm '77, who ate dinner at a table with her two freshmen roommates, said.

Yet even with all the celebration and excitement, a few alumnae expressed concern over the nature of the event. Although they recognized the accomplishments made by women at Dartmouth over the past 35 years, many said they believe that the battle for gender equality has yet to be completed.

"The same problems that I faced in 1977, my daughter faced in her years here, and they are still present today," Karen Keegan '77 said.

This sentiment was echoed by Keegan's daughter, Kathryn Van Syckle '05. Both women participated in a panel discussion titled "Our Daughters, Ourselves."

"I don't think we've come as far as we should have," Van Syckle said. "We need to not talk about this as something that is over."

Several women referenced recent incidents involving Gillibrand's own sorority as evidence that there is still a problem. Over the summer, some members of Theta Delta Chi fraternity verbally insulted members of Kappa while entering the fraternity.

College President James Wright chose not to comment on any recent issues in his welcome address during Saturday night's dinner.

"The women at Dartmouth and Dartmouth have the same goals," he said.

Wright added later, "Failure does happen in life, but acceptance of failure should not, and these women did not accept failure."