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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

A look back on news for the Class of 2023

The Class of 2023 is the last pre-COVID class, as their freshman year was cut short and restrictions continued for the next two years.

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This article is featured in the 2023 Commencement & Reunions special issue.

The Dartmouth looks back at how four years of news events shaped the Class of 2023’s experience, as they now prepare to graduate. 

Adjustment to campus interrupted by pandemic 

The Class of 2023 set three institutional records before arriving on campus, including being part of the largest application pool at the time since 2012, having the lowest admit rate — 7.9 percent — at that point in College history and boasting Dartmouth’s highest yield rate — 64 percent — up till that point.

As the Class of 2023 entered campus, they moved into first-year residence halls corresponding to their specific house communities, marking a change from previous years where each first-year residence hall contained students from several different house communities across its floors. 

In September 2019, the College revoked universal access to all College dorms and residential social spaces in response to incidents of racial bias, a policy change which students sharply criticized. The College reinstated universal access to residential social spaces in October and universal access to dorms during daytime hours the following month.

The Class of 2023 was the first class to take part in the Sexual Violence Prevention Program’s four-year curriculum.

In September 2019, restaurant Han Fusion and clothing store J. McLaughlin opened their doors. In October, a barber shop opened in Hanover called the People’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor, and following the closure of the Dartmouth Bookstore in 2018, Still North Books & Bar opened in December.

As the state of New Hampshire geared up to host the first-in-the-nation presidential primary for the 2020 election, multiple presidential candidates visited the Upper Valley during the fall of  2019 and winter of 2020. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Michael Bennet and Elizabeth Warren held rallies on campus in October. Pete Buttigieg spoke at Lebanon in November, and Bill Weld held two events on campus in October and November. In January 2020, Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer hosted town halls in Hanover. In February — the month of the presidential primary — Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Sanders and Andrew Yang spoke in Hanover.

The end of winter term 2020 coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. On February 27, the spread of COVID-19 would lead the College’s study abroad program in Italy to end early, and on March 2, a DHMC employee tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first case in New Hampshire. On March 17, the College announced it would hold online classes for the remainder of spring term, cutting the Class of 2023’s freshman experience short. The first Dartmouth undergraduate tested positive for COVID-19 the following day. 

Following the state-mandated closure of indoor dining on March 16, 2020, businesses in Hanover struggled to adapt. Six local eateries closed their doors that year, including Salt Hill Pub, Vermont creperie The Skinny Pancake, frozen yogurt and bubble tea shop Swirl and Pearl, Asian-Italian fusion Noodle Station, Morano Gelato and Market Table. The King Arthur Flour cafe in Baker-Berry Library also closed in May. 

In May, Dartmouth saw the second-highest turnout in a Student Assembly election up to that point, and Cait McGovern ’21 and Jonathan Briffault ’21 were elected Student Assembly president and vice president.  

Summer term was also held virtually, and senior’s belongings were shipped home by mid-June. Meanwhile, the Hanover Country Club permanently closed in July 2020. 

Pandemic continues to reshape campus and world

Classes for the 2020 fall term were held mostly online, and all study abroad programs for the fall, winter and spring terms were canceled, while those for the summer of 2021 were either shifted to a remote format or canceled. Students were assigned between one and three on-campus terms for the academic year.

Students returning to campus for the fall faced a 14-day quarantine including mandatory testing, meal delivery and ban on unauthorized gatherings. Violations of College COVID-19 guidelines resulted in some students being sent home for the year — most notably after police in Hanover and Lebanon intervened in off-campus parties over Halloween weekend — though the College did not disclose the number of students affected.

After the start date for winter term 2021 was pushed back three days to January 7 to allow for a lengthened move-in process, only eight undergraduate courses were taught fully in-person. 

In January 2021, Dartmouth reinstated five sports teams that it had cut in July 2020 — men’s and women’s golf, men’s lightweight rowing and men’s and women’s swimming and diving — citing Title IX compliance. Renovations to Reed and Thornton Halls were completed, and renovations to Dartmouth Hall began in January. 

Only 10 undergraduate courses were offered fully in-person for spring term 2021. That spring, Jennifer Qian ’22 and Maggie Johnston ’22 were elected as SA president and vice president, with a turnout that fell more than 20% from the previous election. 

On April 14, 2021, the College announced that it would require vaccination to return in the fall. In advance of classes beginning for the fall 2021 term, the College maintained an indoor mask mandate, but did not impose gathering limits or distancing requirements. Also in April, New Hampshire’s vaccination campaign led the nation with 60% of the population having received at least one shot. 

By spring 2021, some Hanover restaurants had returned to normal operations. In January 2021, 4U Bubble Tea brought the popular beverage back to Hanover. Three new restaurants had also opened — Impasto, Dunk’s Sports Grill and The Nest. The poster store, which was renamed to Records, Memorabilia and Posters New Hampshire, reopened in a new location.  

Allegations of cheating against 17 medical students embroiled the Geisel School of Medicine in months of controversy. In June, the school dismissed academic honor code charges against the students involved after criticism from students, professors and technology experts that the school was relying on unsound evidence and failing to offer due process in its judicial proceedings.

The Kresge Physical Sciences Library and the Paddock Music Library closed permanently at the end of the 2021 academic year as a result of decreased library lending numbers and budget cuts.

The Dartmouth community mourned the loss of  Beau DuBray ’24 in 2020 as well as Elizabeth Reimer ’24, Lamees Kareem ’22 and Connor Tiffany ’24 in 2021. The College held a vigil on the Green in May 2021 to commemorate their lives. 

After a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020, the 2021 Commencement was held in-person with historian Annette Gordon-Reed ’81 as the Commencement speaker.

Changing face on campus

As many members of the Class of 2023 returned to campus for their sophomore summer, the face of campus was changing, from its people, to the physical buildings to its institutional history. 

In July 2021, Dean of the College Kathryn Lively stepped down from her position, and in August Provost Joseph Helble left Dartmouth to become president of Lehigh University. They were replaced by Scott Brown ’93 and David Kotz ’86, respectively. 

With Dartmouth preparing for a full reopening for fall 2021, Dartmouth faced a housing shortage as the demand for on-campus housing outstripped supply, leaving dozens of students without a place to live. 

By September, regional pharmacies and hospitals had begun administering booster shots.

In the fall of 2021, Mexican restaurant Tacos y Tequila opened its doors. The Fourth Place, a game and comic store, opened in October.  

Ahead of winter term 2022, the College mandated booster shots and restricted social gatherings and indoor dining.

In January, the College expanded its need-blind admissions policy to international students, and College President Phil Hanlon announced he would step down effective June 2023 after serving nearly 10 years.

In spring 2022, COVID-19 restrictions were eased and masks were no longer required indoors after March 16. 

Also in the spring, the west end of campus was reshaped with the opening of both the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society and the Class of 1982 Center for Engineering and Computer Science. The construction of both buildings was part of the Call to Lead campaign, which surpassed its $3 billion fundraising goal in October 2021. 

The Student Worker Collective at Dartmouth became a recognized union in March 2022 after a unanimous vote – thus becoming the fifth recognized undergraduate union in the country. David Millman ’23 and Jessica Chiriboga ’24 were elected as SA president and vice president in an uncontested election.

In April 2022, Dartmouth returned the Samson Occom papers to Occom’s native Mohegan tribe. The papers include 117 documents and two books, including diaries and Mohegan language materials belonging to Occom — a co-founder of Dartmouth. The College also announced a $88 million expansion for the Hopkins Center for the Arts, and construction began in December 2022. Starting the fall of 2022, more than 750 Dartmouth students, faculty and alumni signed a petition to keep the Woodworking Shop open during the renovations. 

Three new dining locations — The Fern, Back of the Napkin and Cafe@Baker — also opened in April 2022. Ice cream returned to Hanover in the spring of 2022 with the opening of Hanover Scoops in early May. 

During the May 2022 Town Meeting, residents approved Article 11, which established a new zoning district that allows for residential development along West Wheelock Street. The article was proposed by Millman and Nicolas Macri ’24.

NFL quarterback Russell Wilson spoke at the 2022 Commencement ceremony. 

Solidifying a sense of place

Beginning on the first day of the 2022 summer term, Dartmouth transitioned to a no-loan financial aid policy for undergraduates, replacing the loans with expanded scholarship grants. In July, the Board of Trustees elected Sian Leah Beilock, a cognitive scientist and the current president of Barnard College, as the College’s nineteenth president and first ever female president.

In addition, around 2,500 members of the Class of 2020 and their guests returned to campus in August 2022 for a long-awaited in-person Commencement ceremony

In September 2022, SA changed its name to Dartmouth Student Government, created new positions such as a liaison to the Town of Hanover and updated its goals to focus on mental health services and housing accessibility. In November, DSG coordinated efforts to bring teletherapy provider Uwill to students free of charge. 

2022 also marked a series of anniversaries and milestones for the College. After a 21-month renovation, classes returned to the newly renovated Dartmouth Hall in October 2022. In November, the College celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of coeducation, the 50th anniversary of the Native American and Indigenous studies department and the 50th anniversary of the African and African American Studies program.

After over three decades in business, Dartmouth merchandise store Traditionally Trendy closed in November 2022. 

In February 2023, the Hanover Zoning Board granted a special exception to the College for the North End Housing project, a new 397-bed residential hall on Lyme Road. The project is awaiting approval from the Planning Board to proceed. 

In 2023, Dartmouth also continued to confront its history with Native American tribes. It announced in March 2023 that it is pursuing repatriation —  as dictated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 —  of the remains of 15 Native American individuals that were discovered in the College’s collections. 

In mid-April 2023, the Graduate Organized Laborers of Dartmouth became a recognized union after a vote with an 89% margin in favor of unionizing. One week later, library workers also announced their intentions to unionize.

On April 11, 2023, Dartmouth ended its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

In 2023, Chiriboga and Kiara Ortiz ’24 were elected DSG president and vice president in an uncontested election. 

In the spring of 2023, downtown Hanover continued to evolve with the April opening of Spanish tapería Duende and that same month, the closure of hardware store Hanover True Value after over a century in business. 

At a Hanover Selectboard candidate forum prior to the 2023 Town Meeting, Callaghan and Chamberlain both stated that the lack of affordable housing is the most pressing issue that Hanover residents currently face. A report published in October 2021 by St. Anselm College’s Center for Ethics in Society and the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy found that the Upper Valley ranks among the areas with the highest housing prices and most stringent zoning restrictions in New Hampshire. 

During the May 2023 Town Meeting, Carey Callaghan ’83 and film and media studies lecturer Jennie Chamberlain were elected to the Selectboard, and residents passed Article 15, which transfers five acres of town land to the Twin Pines Housing Trust for development as workforce housing. 

Filmmakers Chris Miller ’97 and Phil Lord ’97 will speak at the 2023 Commencement ceremony.

Throughout these last four years, the Dartmouth community mourned the lives lost of students, faculty and staff. In addition to the student lives lost in 2020 and 2021, members of the community mourned the lives of Sam Gawel ’23, Joshua Watson ’22 and Alex Simpson ’22 in 2022 and Vasudha Thakur ’23 and Josh Balara ’24 this year. 

On the faculty side, Dartmouth remembered women’s track and field head coach Sandy Ford-Centonze and psychological and brain sciences professor David Bucci in 2019. In 2020, the community mourned the lives of executive associate athletic director Brian Austin, environmental studies and writing professor Terry Osborne, Geisel psychiatry professor Alan Green and Guarini assistant dean of postdoctoral affairs Victoria Blodgett.

In 2021, the community mourned the loss of engineering professor B. Stuart Trembly. The following year, Dartmouth mourned the loss of College president emeritus James Wright. This year, members of the Dartmouth community remembered the lives of film and media studies professor emeritus Albert LaValley and professor of English and creative writing professor Monika Otter.

Correction Appended (June 12, 4:26 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that 4U Bubble Tea in Hanover opened in January 2022. It opened in January 2021. The article has been updated.