Dear Dartie: My friend seems reluctant to vaccinate. Is it my place to call him out?

Dartie advises readers on must-take courses, Foco hacks, vaccine disagreements and more.

by Dartie | 4/14/21 2:25am


Thanks to everyone who sought Dartie’s advice this week. Remember to submit your anonymous questions for next week using this form!

Dear Dartie,

I’ve gotten my first dose of the vaccine, and some of my other friends also have. Some of my friends who haven’t gotten their first dose were turned away at J.C. Penney and a few others are actively planning to get it once appointments open up to everyone on April 19. Most of us really want the vaccine and are ready to do our part to end the pandemic. I have one friend, though, who always stays quiet when the vaccine comes up in conversation. He was asked once if he had an appointment, and he just said “not yet.” I know his parents are really conservative, and I suspect he might not want to get the vaccine. That really bothers me. Should I bring it up?




I totally understand where you’re coming from. We all want to get back to “normal life,” and mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity looks like the best way to do that. So it can be really frustrating to hear that some people don’t want to do their part, especially if those people are in your inner circle or are people you otherwise respect. In this case, because your friend’s potential reluctance to receive the vaccine is bothering you, I think it’s fair to start a respectful dialogue about it.

When you start the conversation, I would approach the topic delicately; maybe your friend will surprise you and express willingness to get the vaccine. And keep in mind that your friend may have any number of other reasons for hesitating to vaccinate, including access issues, fears, medical conditions or allergies. But if it turns out he is against the vaccine for reasons with which you disagree, I think it is appropriate to raise concerns about his health and your own. You may also choose to remind your friend of the broader campus-wide, community-wide and even nationwide implications of his decision.

However, I’d also keep in mind that it’s likely that you won’t be able to change your friend’s mind, so you may have to decide between dropping the issue and just choosing not to be around him as much. Additionally, many colleges and universities — including Brown University and Cornell University — have already indicated that vaccines will be required for students returning to campus in the fall. Presuming that Dartmouth follows suit, your friend will soon face stronger incentives to get the jab than just your approval. Keep the faith.



Dear Dartie,

What have been your favorite Dartmouth classes that you would recommend anyone take before graduation? I’m planning classes for my upcoming senior year and trying to take advantage of the fact that classes will likely be held in person next year. These do not need to be layup classes, unless you thought the layup was worthwhile and enjoyable.

Thank you,

Class Curiosity

Class Curiosity,

So many of us long for the days when there were peers to talk to face to face, a professor to approach after class and acquaintances to bump into in the halls. If I were you, I’d make the most of that, too! It’s hard to know what courses to recommend without knowing your interests, so I’ll try to keep things pretty general and avoid prerequisites where possible. Here are my recommendations:

ENGS 12, “Design Thinking:” a perennial Dartmouth favorite that improves problem-solving capabilities and fosters a great class community. You may have to claw your way in, but once you’re in, you won’t be disappointed!

GOVT 50.06, “Nuclear Weapons: Physical and Strategic Effects:” one of those classes that will never not be relevant. Press is a phenomenal professor, and the course strikes a perfect balance between technical knowledge — there are problem sets! — and historical/cultural awareness.

ASCL 62.01, “Chinese Calligraphy:” potentially a curveball, but hear me out! This class is a really unique way to get your ART distrib or just to explore another culture. Each class includes time to practice your own calligraphy while chatting with classmates, so it ends up being relaxing and fun. And what a cool skill! No experience required.

COSC 1, “Introduction to Programming and Computation:” the famed CS 1. Definitely worth taking, even if only to say you’ve done it. You’ll learn Python and produce some cool programs along the way, including a virtual pong game that you can actually play! NRO it, and do your best. 

LATS 37, “Migrant Lives and Labor in the Upper Valley:” In addition to providing important and timely knowledge about the migrant experience in the U.S., LATS 37 offers students the chance to engage with the community in a way that no other class does. Note, however, that an intermediate level of Spanish language ability is required to take the course.

Make the most of being back in the classroom and have a great senior year!



Dear Dartie,

Do you have any Foco hacks? I rarely like the daily offerings, and I’m really bored of pasta.


Foco Fumble

Foco Fumble,

Glad you asked. Over my years of Foco highs and lows, I have certainly developed a few favorite hacks. COVID-19 adjustments have made it more difficult to get creative in the dining hall, but here are a few ideas that have survived the pandemic.

“Deep dish” pizza bagel: This one was easier pre-COVID-19, but with a little Chicago-style, sauce-on-top flair, you can still enjoy this gem. Start at the sandwich station and ask for your bagel of choice, sliced, with your choice of cheese on top. There’s no mozzarella, but I go for cheddar and Swiss and it’s great. Politely ask for your bagel and cheese to be put through the sandwich toaster and then go crazy with toppings. I get tomatoes, but you can get any sandwich toppings that you want — like pepperoni or other veggies. But don’t stop there! Head over to the salad station to experiment with more toppings or venture even further to see what might interest you from other stands. I’ve tried Ma Thayer’s corn, Herbivore’s sweet potatoes and even the Pavillion’s peas on pizza bagels. To finish your masterpiece, grab a small bowl of marinara sauce from the pasta station and throw it on top.

“Risotto:” I’m not sure I can take credit for this idea because I think I may have first learned it from Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks, a recipe book written by Priya Krishna ’13. But impromptu “risotto” has been one of my go-to hacks for the last four years. This meal is an option on any day that Foco is serving rice, which, if you haven’t noticed, is a lot of days. Check Herbivore and Ma Thayer’s and grab a bowl or plate of rice. If you want, you can add in vegetables, too; I like broccoli in mine. Then, head over to the soup station and pick a soup that looks good. My favorites are broccoli cheddar and corn chowder. Pour a little bit over your rice, or scoop a whole bowl and bring it back to your table to explore the ratio. Mix your ingredients together, and voila — a DIY risotto! Don’t knock it ’til you try it!

Cookie ice cream sandwich: This one might be a little more basic, but if you’re not already doing it, you need to start. Grab two of Foco's famous cookies and a container of ice cream and sandwich them together. The warm cookies bring this ice cream sandwich to a whole new level. It’ll drip, but it’ll be worth it! In fact, this dessert is the only edible cure to a blown midterm or a broken heart after the closure of Morano Gelato last spring.

Bon appétit!



Dear Dartie,

During my freshman year I decided to major in computer science, but after almost two years of taking CS courses, I’ve realized that I’m just not that good at it. I enjoy the material in most of my classes, but I get below the median grade in many of them. My GPA isn’t the most important thing to me, but it doesn’t feel great to know I’m doing worse than everyone else, and it makes me worried for how I might fare when I’m competing against my peers for jobs. I’ve been trying to work harder in classes and do better, but somehow it just usually doesn’t pan out. I’m considering dropping my CS major, but I can’t decide if I should. I don’t know what else I’d study, and I’ve already told all my friends that this is my plan. Should I change paths?


Crushed by Computer Science

Crushed by Computer Science,

It’s great to hear that you enjoy computer science, and for that reason, I wouldn’t drop it unless it starts impacting your grades to a degree with which you’re uncomfortable. However, to give your GPA a little bump — and maybe to boost your confidence a little bit — I’d recommend starting to explore other departments to see if there are other subjects you might be interested in. You can ask friends with other majors for class recommendations and try a few out during your next term on campus. Or if you’ve already enjoyed classes you’ve taken, you can continue on those tracks.

Once you find a subject you’re interested in, I’d recommend that you consider creating a modified major. This is a great option that would decrease the number of computer science courses you need to take while still keeping CS as your primary focus. And you could modify your major with almost anything — art, music, philosophy, etc. — as long as you craft a cohesive plan and get it approved by the department. If you can’t get a modified major to work or you’d rather not do that, you can consider adding a new major, giving you a double major, or even majoring in a new subject and dropping CS to a minor.

If after a bit of exploration, you find that CS is still the only subject for you, that’s OK, too! As you get further into the major, you’ll be able to identify some of the easier course options, and you can try to take those to give yourself a break some terms. And at the end of the day, your major courses are only about a third of all the classes you’ll take. If it comes up, you can explain to potential employers that while CS is a passion and a challenge, it is only one of your many interests, and you can direct them to some of your higher grades in other classes. Hope this helps!



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