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The Dartmouth
February 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Four years of campus news seen by the Class of 2020


This article is featured in the 2020 Commencement special issue.


In September, College President Phil Hanlon announced the creation of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society. Construction on the new institute, located between the Tuck School of Business and the Thayer School of Engineering, began in October 2019.

In October, an unattended hibachi-style grill caused a four-alarm fire in Morton Hall in the East Wheelock housing cluster. While no injuries were reported, all 67 of the building's residents were immediately relocated.

Now-former Safety and Security director Harry Kinne estimated that 50 people attempted to touch the Homecoming weekend bonfire in October. The Hanover Fire Department decided to knock down a part of the fire to preserve student safety.

In November, over 300 Dartmouth students, faculty and community members marched in “A Walk for Love and Justice” to protest Donald Trump’s election as president.

Former students Sebastian Lim and Daniel Ro of the Class of 2019 admitted to causing the Morton Fire in an online petition circulated in November. In the letter, the two apologized and asked to be readmitted to the College. The letter did not change the disciplinary outcome, and both were expelled.

According to financial documents released in January, the College suffered a financial operating loss of $112 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year due to rising expenses and flat revenue growth. Much of the deficit came from the reorganization of the Geisel School of Medicine, which cost $53.5 million.

In March, the College released a statement expressing support for transgender and gender non-conforming community members in response to President Trump’s decision to rescind protections for transgender students.

In April, Native American studies professor N. Bruce Duthu ’80 was selected to be the next dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, but later declined the position due to concerns about his co-authorship of a 2013 declaration supporting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Hanover pizza restaurant Everything But Anchovies closed permanently in May after 38 years of operation. The closure followed a decline in business after the opening of a Domino’s Pizza franchise in West Lebanon. 

Also in May, Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority was broken into. The perpetrator wrote a graphic message inside the sorority house threatening sexual violence. In response to the message found in KDE, over 100 Dartmouth students and faculty gathered on the Green to speak out against sexual violence at the College. 


In October, the College announced that psychology and brain sciences professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen were put on paid leave following allegations of sexual misconduct. New Hampshire state officials also opened a criminal investigation into the professors’ conduct.

In December, the College’s computer system was attacked by a strain of WannaCry, a ransomware virus widely attributed to North Korea. The College decided to shut down the file sharing network until all vulnerable machines were wiped.

In January, the New Hampshire state Senate passed House Bill 372, which redefined the term “resident” for the purposes of holding office and voting in the state. Critics claimed that the bill could restrict student voting. 

In February, the official Winter Carnival snow sculpture returned after a three-year hiatus. The sculpture depicted a Darth Vader helmet that corresponded to the carnival’s theme, “Snow Wars: May the Frost Be with You.”

In March, the Board of Trustees announced that the College will not expand undergraduate enrollment following consideration of a report from the task force for enrollment expansion. The task force was created in September 2017 to evaluate the merits of increasing the undergraduate student body by 10 to 25 percent.

Also in March, data were released indicating that the Class of 2022 had the lowest rate of admission on record, at 8.7 percent. The College admitted 1,925 students to the class from a pool of 22,033 applicants.

In May, a committee was convened to decide the fate of the Hovey Murals, which were located in the basement of the Class of 1953 Commons. Controversial for their offensive depiction of Native Americans, the murals were relocated to an off-campus Hood Museum of Art storage facility in October.

In June, psychological and brain sciences professor Todd Heatherton retired following allegations of sexual misconduct. Fellow psychological and brain sciences professor Paul Whalen retired later that month. Both faced revoked tenure and termination of employment.

In July, William Kelley, the third professor implicated in the psychological and brain sciences investigation, resigned from the College. Kelley also faced revoked tenure and termination of employment.


In September, the College announced a new 350-bed undergraduate residence hall to be constructed at the corner of East Wheelock and Crosby streets. The land is currently occupied by three tennis courts and House Center A, better known as “The Onion.”

Also in September, the Dartmouth Bookstore announced that it would close permanently at the end of the year following a decision not to renew its lease.

In October, over 50 students contracted hand, foot and mouth disease, prompting cancellations of an Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity chapter meeting and other events to curb the spread of the virus.

Also in October, the College limited freshmen to running only one lap around the Homecoming bonfire. The town of Hanover refused to grant a permit for the event unless the College altered Homecoming to meet the town’s safety demands. No students attempted to touch the Homecoming bonfire.

In November, a non-Dartmouth student was shot outside the Christian Science Reading Room in Hanover, prompting an active shooter response by the College and local law enforcement. The alleged suspect, Gage Young, was later arrested and indicted on charges including second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Also in November, seven women — six current and former graduate students and one former undergraduate student — filed a $70 million federal class action lawsuit against the College. The suit alleged that the College had ignored claims of sexual misconduct in the psychology and brain sciences department.

In January, the Hood Museum of Art reopened after a multi-year renovation project.

In February, at least three Dartmouth professors and 18 students were targeted by emails that had sexually explicit content and racist messages. These emails were sent from fake email addresses that impersonated Dartmouth students.

Also in February, the Courtyard Cafe made Green2Go mandatory for all to-go orders. This decision was expected to save seven tons of waste per year.

In May, Arun Anand ’19 was found alive after a three-day search on Mount Moosilauke. Anand was on a College-sponsored physical education hike and was reported missing after he separated from the trip group.

Also in May, the College challenged the grant of anonymity to three of the nine PBS lawsuit plaintiffs. Later that month, the College and the nine plaintiffs agreed to seek mediation.


In September, the College restricted dorm and house center access for students to those within their own house communities in response to racial bias incidents from October 2018. The restrictions drew sharp criticism from the student body. 

In October, former psychology and brain sciences professor David Bucci died from suicide at age 50. Bucci had been chair of the PBS department when allegations of sexual misconduct against three PBS professors were unveiled.

In November, the College restored universal access to dorms and house centers from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Overnight access to dorms was still restricted to house members.

In January, a New Hampshire federal judge granted preliminary approval for a $14 million settlement in the class action sexual misconduct lawsuit against the College.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the February New Hampshire Democratic primary with 25.7 percent of the vote. Former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg placed first in Hanover with 25.9 percent of the vote.

In February, Still North Books & Bar opened in the space formerly occupied by the Dartmouth Bookstore.

In March, a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employee tested positive for COVID-19. The employee later broke isolation precautions to attend an event hosted by Tuck, where a second DHMC employee was infected.

On March 11, the Ivy League canceled all spring varsity athletic events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 17, all undergraduate and graduate classes for the spring term were moved online. Following this decision, Provost Joseph Helble announced on March 23 that all undergraduate courses would be graded on a credit/no credit basis. Graduate courses continued to use their regular grading systems.

In April, chief financial officer Mike Wagner estimated that the College would face an $83 million loss in revenue for fiscal year 2020 as a result of the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The College also announced a freeze on staff hiring and wage increases through the end of the year.

On April 9, College President Phil Hanlon announced the postponement of commencement activities for the Class of 2020 to June 2021.

On April 20, the upcoming summer term was moved entirely online. The College will determine the status of fall term by June 29.

In May, the Baker-Berry Library location of King Arthur Flour closed permanently. The cafe was a campus favorite among Dartmouth students for coffee, pastries and lunch items since its opening in 2011. 

On June 14, the Class of 2020 will have its degrees conferred at a virtual ceremony. Salman Khan, founder of the free online education platform Khan Academy, will speak at the virtual commencement.  

Andrew Sasser

Andrew is a '23 from Boynton Beach, Florida, and is currently a news executive editor for The Dartmouth. He is majoring in chemistry and economics.