Vox Clamantis: Fostering Community

by Mike Wooten | 11/16/15 8:31pm

To the Editor:

I am writing to respond to Ioana Solomon’s ’19 thoughtful column in The Dartmouth yesterday, “Artificially Selecting Community.” As I said in last week’s messages to students, you are not required to submit a house community group request. We are offering that option for those who feel more comfortable doing so, but in the spirit of the house communities’ purpose and consistent with many of Solomon’s reflections, we encourage you to “go solo” — just as you did when you first came to Dartmouth and did not know the other students assigned to your building. Our goal is to give you the choice. These are options, not requirements.

I also want to recognize Solomon’s references to those of you who may feel like you “haven’t found your perfect place,” are exploring friendships or may be experiencing what Solomon calls “a culture of isolation, depression and fear.” We know that despite Dartmouth’s many opportunities, it can be a stressful place. One of the reasons for establishing the house communities is to strengthen students’ sense of place — in response to long-standing feedback from students and alumni. As we work toward making that a reality, we care about how you are doing right now. If you have questions about the grouping process and the house communities transition, please do not hesitate to reach out to your undergraduate advisor, community director or a residential life staff member. The undergraduate deans, pluralism and leadership office staff and Dick’s House counselor and clinicians are also available to provide support. As we head into the term’s last week, please let us know how we can help.

Mike Wooten is the associate dean of residential life.