Tune In, Turn On

by Kelsey Anspach and Annabel Edelson | 10/6/11 10:00pm

As some of the smartest college students in the United States (self call), we are expected to be interested and well-versed in national politics and world affairs. Yet as Dartmouth students, we live fast-paced academic and social lives, often allowing matters outside of the Dartmouth world to seem unimportant.

"Since I got to Dartmouth, my knowledge about what's going on has dropped. Life's so hectic here that it's hard to keep up," Ana Sofia De Brito '12 said.

With smartphone updates, Facebook and Twitter, it has become increasingly convenient to access the most important news. That said, even the most pressing headlines are not necessarily noted or discussed in any depth.

"A lot of the time, I just kind of hear what happened, store it away and move on," Ranya Brooks '13 said. "There's no real need to know relevant details on campus because people are distracted by other things."

Many Dartmouth students feel the need to sacrifice their interest in world affairs and current events in order to keep up with their schoolwork and stay engaged in their social lives.

"I'm involved with everything else that goes on here, so other things are more important for me," Hector Lopez '12 said. "I know that the [Dartmouth] bubble exists, and it's consumed me since freshman year."

Certainly, we are not oblivious to everything going on outside the Dartmouth Bubble. As many here can attest, the most hyped headlines can spread across the campus in no time.

"The day they got Osama [bin Laden], people here went crazy. They blasted the report through windows of dorms so you heard the speech echoing through the campus," Lopez said.

True story: Multiple students ran through Novack that night, brandishing stars and stripes and spontaneously shouting, "Amurka!" amidst the smell of stale coffee and stress.

Those who do stay informed often seek out news from prominent [online] news sources that they've become comfortable with over the years.

"CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg or MSNBC over time I've developed more comfort with certain sites rather than others," Hilary Nguyen '12 said. "I just try to read as much reputable news as possible."

For others, the sources in which they are most confident are the ones their parents often kept in their homes.

"I grew up with The New York Times and USA Today," Erica Westenberg '15 said. "They offer a lot of information and are pretty unbiased."

Other students who have lived and travelled internationally may become familiar with news sources from around the world that offer a perspective different from the major U.S. sources.

"I usually get my political information from international sources like Globo," De Brito said of the Brazilian news source. "[It presents] the facts and the truth better than news sources in the U.S. since most of the time no one has any special interest or biases, and they report things faster. Recently, as in the Troy Davis case, BBC, Globo and other international news sources reported more than any other news source here in the U.S."

Similarly, Max Durschi '15 follows BBC because "the news about [the United States] from a British source is generally more unbiased."

Other students find the publications' physical copies convenient for catching up on current events during down time, so they prefer rerouting subscriptions to their Hinman boxes.

"I have a subscription to Time magazine," Brian Kim '13 said. "I don't really read the news, so that's the only source that I have. The subscription helps me keep up I'll have it on hand, carry it around and look at it whenever I can, because I don't have the time to sit down and read articles."

The availability of certain news sources on campus also influences some students' habits. Chad Piersma '13 noticed that upon coming to Dartmouth, he started reading The Dartmouth and USA Today because they are "conveniently placed about campus."

"Growing up in the Midwest, the newspapers I had available to me were very different than the big ones on the East Coast," he said.

Clearly he was referring to The Dartmouth.

Still, for every student reading The Times, there's another who prefers being informed by popular television programs focused on (blaspheming) current events.

"A lot of the news I get is from Stephen Colbert," Brooks said. "All of his irony is so appropriate. He shares the same jaded view of politics that I do, so it's interesting to hear about it."

Other students are open about their less than politically inclined reading materials. Piersma, for example, admitted that Sports Illustrated is his "Bible."

As we seek to achieve a higher intellectual degree and preparedness to participate and contribute in the world, should we not also be pushing ourselves to stay informed and aware? Should we be the 18 to 22-year-old young adults who are equipped and curious enough to pursue intellect and information beyond what is handed to us in the classroom? Or is our coursework so rigorous and all-consuming that we just can't stand to think about anything "serious" outside of an academic setting? Sometimes you might just want to keep up with the Kardashians, see how stars are just like us or answer the question, what's hot and what's not?

But if you do not have time to focus on the news or on anything outside of Dartmouth, at least you are reading The Mirror. Well done.