Verbum Ultimum: Dear Accepted Students

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 3/27/14 7:36pm

Dear accepted students,

In recent years, our campus has received significant negative attention that has highlighted very real problems. From allegations of hazing printed in Rolling Stone magazine to coverage of threats made on Bored at Baker, national headlines love to sensationalize the College’s problems. Further, our own paper regularly contains stories and editorials surrounding grave issues such as sexual assault, classism and racial tension. Do not, however, let these headlines deter you from considering Dartmouth at this pivotal point in the College’s history.

The attention given to these issues should not suggest to you that Dartmouth is a depraved, hopeless place — to us, it indicates that the community is increasingly interested in discussing and addressing these issues, issues that are not exclusive to Dartmouth. We understand that negative press coverage and heated student debate, in our paper and elsewhere, can be disconcerting.

Yet in recent years, there has been a significant shift in student sentiment away from protecting the status quo toward a willingness to consider, even champion, substantial reform. In fact, the change has already begun. The Jan. 10 Bored at Baker post may have been an example of malice and bigotry, but it represented the views of one person. The community responded with widespread support for the targeted student, as evidenced by a candlelit vigil held on the Green shortly thereafter. Further, the College recently revised its policy on sexual assault and is accepting comments from community members. Panhellenic Council leaders demanded change as they withdrew from sorority rush last winter. A group of students recently launched an online platform called Improve Dartmouth, where students and staff regularly discuss ideas to make small and large shifts to campus.

Dartmouth is far from perfect. Sexual assault, racism and classism cannot be solved quickly or easily. We are far from a post-racial, post-gender haven, but we are aware of that. Our students recognize the flaws inherent in the College’s status quo, and this acknowledgement is an important step toward remedying those flaws. Passionate students drive an ongoing critical dialogue, a dialogue that speaks to the possibility of change.

The desire to reform our school and the ability to love it are not irreconcilable. Seemingly contradictory impulses, they are actually two sides of the same coin — we want to improve the place that many of us have come to love. Rather than being deterred by the challenges we may face here at Dartmouth, you should be encouraged by the fact that students are ready to address them. We want to make the school better for ourselves and for you. And you have the opportunity to join us.