Administrators find MDF a success

by Emilia Baldwin | 1/3/16 10:21pm

This article is a part of our new culminating beat experience initiative, in which our beat reporters write longer-term investigative articles within their areas of expertise. The author is our Moving Dartmouth Forward beat reporter.

Administrators involved with the development of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” policy initiative said at the end of the fall term that they feel satisfied with the progress of the plan so far.

Provost Carolyn Dever said that she is proud to have taken part in the initiative, which was announced last January by College President Phil Hanlon . She said that she feels the College has so far successfully achieved the goals of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” policy initiative. She noted that she has observed the beginnings of a campus transformation since the announcement.

“The bigger vision for the transformation of this campus is to ensure the wellness and safety of our student body,” Dever said.

Senior associate dean of student affairs Liz Agosto echoed Dever, noting that she believes the College has been quite effective in the early stages of implementing “Moving Dartmouth Forward.”

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’ve definitely had a good beginning,” she said.

One of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” initiative’s plans is diversity and inclusion. Dever emphasized that Dartmouth students and administrators should continue to collaborate to ensure diversity and inclusivity, given the heightened attention to these issues on college campuses across the country. Events that have drawn such attention include the student demand for and subsequent resignation of former president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin from the University of Missouri system and protests at Yale University in response to an email sent out by Silliman College associate master Erika Christakis.

Vice president of campus planning and facilities Lisa Hogarty said that her office has been working to enforce the timelines for building the new residential housing system. Hogarty said that the office is currently working on building the professor-in-residences’ homes. Four of the professors’ homes will require new construction, while two will simply involve renovation, she said.

Hogarty said that the office’s main objective so far has been to make sure that the transition to a residential housing system goes smoothly for students.

Hogarty also said that the office is working on two centers for residential education, which will be responsible for managing the planning of educational resources and initiatives for the new residential colleges. The first one will be located behind Hitchcock Hall and will serve the residential community in the Gold Coast, which will be called “Allen House.” Construction on this site has already commenced. The Office is still waiting for the approval to construct a second center, which will be located behind the tennis courts.

Jerry Hughes ’88 said that he is wary of the new residential housing system. He said that he hopes that it is not a “ploy” by the administration to move students away from the Greek system, which he greatly supports.

“In my experience the Greek system at Dartmouth contributes more positives than negatives to the social experience,” Hughes said.

He also said that he thinks that the College might witness challenges when executing the residential housing system. He said that students who take advantage of flexible schedules through the D-Plan may not have a strong affiliation with their respective colleges.

Hughes commended the administration on the new alcohol management program, however, noting that the hard alcohol ban is a sensible way to eliminate binge drinking.

Robert King ’14 agreed with Hughes in his support for the Greek system, but he said that he thinks the residential housing system will provide a good social environment for students in addition to Greek life. He added that he does not think that the housing system will share many similarities with Harvard University’s or Yale University’s residential colleges.

“There’s no history backing this new system, so the allegiance people feel to their colleges will be different than at Harvard or Yale,” King said.

With time, the system may be successful, he said, but at the beginning, the College will face challenges, including possible backlash from people being grandfathered into the system. He commended those beginning the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” initiative for their willingness to implement the program, despite inevitable difficulty during the transition period.

Associate dean of student life Eric Ramsey said that he and his colleagues have been focusing on implementing the alcohol management program. He said that his interactions with students since the implementation of the program have been positive.

“I think that any initiative that focuses on the health and the wellbeing of students is exciting and must be followed,” Ramsey said.

Agosto noted that the first annual review of student groups, which was proposed in the plan last winter, will serve as an additional component of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” initiative’s alcohol management platform.

She emphasized that students and administrators must collaborate if they hope to implement successful policy.

“These [new policies] are not checkboxes that we are trying to check, but rather real policies that make sense that can be tweaked and modeled to best suit the student body and that are meant to be long-lasting,” Agosto said.

Agosto also said that she is most proud of the forthcoming mandatory four-year sexual violence education curriculum. The only other university with a similar program is the United States Naval Academy, she said. The curriculum will work to educate Dartmouth students on the nuances of sexual violence, with an emphasis on the ideas of power and privilege in sexual encounters, she said.