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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Millman: Student Government is Working. It’s Time To Get Involved

Last year, we worked to transform Dartmouth Student Government, and there is no better time for students to join and make a difference on campus than right now.

Around the country and the world, democratic institutions are decaying at an alarming rate. There is a fundamental lack of faith in political institutions of all kinds, and, looking around, it is easy to buy into that apathy. Many just believe that change is impossible through these systems. I felt the same when I first got to Dartmouth, and I imagine there are a good amount of first-years who do too. That all of this “student advocacy” is simply performative — something you slap on a resume and then call it a day. 

But, if my experiences at Dartmouth have taught me anything, it is that each and every one of you are capable of making change happen. And, I truly believe that one of the best ways to do that right now is by being involved with Dartmouth Student Government.

A year and a half ago, I wrote a column in The Dartmouth during my campaign for student body president, titled “Student Assembly Isn’t Working.” There, I outlined what I believed were the problems within the structural framework of student governance at Dartmouth and the vast potential for a new kind of leadership that could actually fight to get things done. According to the most recent class surveys at the time, the student body held a mostly negative opinion about the organization. So once I was elected, alongside former student body vice president Jessica Chiriboga ’24 and former chief of staff Kiara Ortiz ’24, we got to work. Throughout the year, we remade DSG from the ground up, crafting a new constitution, forming a cabinet, codifying accountability structures, facilitating public outreach and engaging with all parts of campus in making decisions with senior leadership. More importantly, we regained the faith of the student body as an organization because we had the ability to get real things done. 

We hit the ground running, setting up relationships with senior administrators while campaigning for improvements to student life, and we were able to deliver on each of our campaign promises. On mental health, we were instrumental in bringing free universal teletherapy services to campus, convincing our administration and the Board of Trustees to contract with Uwill. We brought the idea of a Day of Caring to campus, which occurred on Oct. 21, 2022, in addition to securing an extension to the NRO deadline for the term and helping coordinate our community gathering. We helped bring back late night dining to campus, launching late night at the Class of 1953 Commons every day until 1:30 a.m. We bolstered civic awareness, providing shuttles to the polls and established the Town Affairs Liaison role, now occupied by Nicolás Macri ’24.

Town advocacy has an enormous concrete impact. The College just announced that the zoning law that I came up with and worked on with Macri to help get passed will directly lead to 250-300 new beds near the center of campus. This will ensure that no undergraduate students need to live 1.5 miles away at the North End Housing Project, which instead will be used to ease the graduate student housing crisis. Talk about a win-win! We worked tirelessly to communicate with the student body better. We’ve funded student aid, with our food pantry in Dick’s House, helped expand the campus shuttle system and Advance Transit, restored 24/7 keycard access to all dorms and accomplished so much more throughout the year. 

This is direct evidence that student advocacy can make our community better. This work is truly collective; None of this is done by just one person. There are networks of caring students, faculty and staff advocating together for change, and any student can get involved! 

Dartmouth’s student body has recognized this change. According to The Dartmouth’s Senior Class Survey, DSG’s opinion on campus rose from just 36% approval in 2022 to an astounding 75% in 2023, the largest jump by far of that year. To see that DSG became, according to the latest statistics, the most favored of the three figures and 13 institutions listed on the survey — second only to our college’s world-class faculty — is incredibly humbling and shows the impact students can make in our community.

There is no better time to get involved with DSG. Just this year, we’ve seen DSG’s free laundry initiative become a reality, long awaited changes to the medical leave process take place and overnight infirmary fees eliminated! The organization is starting the year with the true support of the student body at a time of massive change for Dartmouth, and I honestly cannot say enough about how lucky I was to work with the people that now are in the current administration. Having spent countless hours running across campus with Chiriboga, your current student body president, Ortiz, your current student body vice president, Anthony Fosu ’24, chief of staff, and so many others in leadership roles now, I can confidently say that if you join DSG, you will fighting alongside some of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working with. 

You can make a difference on this campus. I’ve seen it first-hand. Anyone can get involved, have their voice heard and make lives better. I believe in it enough to write this despite graduating last spring! First-years: run for your house community Senate positions! Intent-to-run forms are due soon. Vote in your fall elections! Campaign! Get active! Sophomores, juniors and seniors: Join as an at-large representative! DSG welcomes any and all students to get involved with advocacy, whether that means going to a meeting, reaching out to report a problem or responding to a survey. I’ve often heard Dean of the College Scott Brown say this, but I think it’s so true: Future generations of Dartmouth students will thank you for the work that you put in to make this campus a better place. 

Each one of you has the power to actually change lives for the better. So I urge you all: Believe in yourself, and get to work!

David Millman ’23 was Dartmouth’s student body president from 2022-2023. Opinion articles represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.

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