Opinion Asks: Sophomore Summer and the Return to Normalcy

Given that sophomore summer is intended to be a trial run for the fall, what should it look like?

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 4/27/21 2:00am

“Dartmouth has not released a large amount of information about sophomore summer and what it will look like, but has said that it will be a hybrid term in preparation for a return to some sort of normalcy in the fall. According to the recently released timetable, however, there will only be around 20 in-person classes offered this summer. Given that sophomore summer is intended to be a transition term, what do you think it should look like? (this can draw on on-campus policies, course selection, housing & more).”

I think that the College is setting itself — and its new and returning students — up for unnecessary chaos in the fall. The summer term offers a chance for students and faculty alike to readjust to college life as it was before the pandemic. By continuing to restrict on-campus activities and offering a paltry 20 in-person classes, Dartmouth is acting unwisely. In wasting an opportunity to simulate more “normal” campus life for students who will be living on or near campus for their sophomore summer, the College’s promises of a “fully operational” fall term don’t mean as much. Faculty and staff especially may struggle to perform their jobs if they aren’t given a legitimate transition period. Overall, the proposals for sophomore summer simply aren’t sufficient as they currently stand.

– Michael Harrison ’24

Given the fact New Hampshire and surrounding states are currently leading the country in terms of vaccinations administered, more in-person classes should be offered. But what’s more important than increasing the sheer number of classes is ensuring that the most-deserving classes get taught in-person. Certain types of courses, such as labs or ones based around small discussions, stand to benefit far more from in-person teaching than large lectures. From course evaluations, there’s plenty of data on which classes most need this switch. Academic departments and the Registrar should craft a list of pending in-person classes ready to be taught on campus if conditions improve as projected.

– Maxwell Teszler ’23

Sophomore summer has long been a Dartmouth tradition, and members of Class of 2022 were already forced to miss out on theirs. It does not make sense to continue making decisions that compromise tradition and community now that pandemic restrictions have begun to lift and a large portion of the student population will soon be vaccinated. Not only should Dartmouth make a more concerted effort to offer in-person classes, the administration should use 21X as a time to bring back some of the non-academic hallmarks of Dartmouth that have been noticeably missing in the past year. Use sophomore summer not only as a transition back to the kind of classes we lack, but to the kind of Dartmouth that we miss.

– Katherine Arrington ’24