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Dartmouth students come to campus from all over the world: from places with beaches, mountains, forests or lakes. For four years, we share the same views at Dartmouth. We share the smooth waters of the river, the warm light of Sanborn Library and the soft grass on the Green. We also share the staggeringly long lines at KAF, the musty Stacks cubicles and the squeaky tables in Novack at one in the morning. We share the good and the bad.
East coast or west coast?
My phone categorizes every photo I’ve taken by its location. I have photos tagged Hackettstown, NJ that feature my dogs in my kitchen, photos tagged Rome and Florence from my study abroad and off terms, photos tagged Norwich from all those Gile sunrikes and a whole album of Lake Morey for the countless laps I skated last term.
Bright rainbow lights illuminated Dartmouth Hall in brilliant colors last month for Pride, a reminder of the importance of inclusivity on campus for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. While such grand displays of solidarity with queer students are a step in the right direction in terms of fostering an accepting, supportive community, the lights also serve as a reminder that for many students on campus, Pride is more than just a month long. The lights symbolize the fight for self-expression, comfort and respect — a daily reality that continues long after the spectrum of colors returns to its standard white.
By now, you’ve probably seen the faces that gaze out at you from the front of the Stacks as you pass through first floor Berry. If you’re like me, you might have stopped briefly in front of one or two of the photographs to look back at them and wonder, “Who are these people?” As it turns out, that’s precisely the point.
In 1968, Lynn Lobban became one of the first seven women to attend Dartmouth. Recruited by the theater department, Lobban spent her time at Dartmouth trying to prove her worth in a daunting sea of men. In the process, she became a brother at Chi Phi Heorot fraternity and participated in the Parkhurst Takeover, Dartmouth students’ anti-Vietnam War demonstration. To Lobban’s frustration, the College did not allow her to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree at Dartmouth because the College had not yet formally ratified coeducation. After finishing school at Elmire College in Vermont, Lobban moved to New York to become an actor, singer and dancer.
At face value, the phrase “war and peace” is contradictory. But these contradictions make us human. We say we want balance but continue to pile on commitment after commitment. We strive for a healthier diet but always sneak that extra cookie on our way out of Foco. It is easy for us to think one thing and do something else or to try upholding some set of values while our lifestyles tell a different story.
To most, spring term means lots of rain, Green Key and relaxing afternoons on the Green with glimpses of sunlight if we’re lucky. To some self-identifying women in the Class of 2022 and beyond, however, spring term also represents the ever-daunting mystery that is sorority pre-rush.
By the Aegis’s account, Students for a Democratic Society never existed at Dartmouth. Student newspapers and oral histories identify 1969 through 1971 as the period of peak activity for the anti-Vietnam War activist organization, but Dartmouth’s yearbooks from these years do not once mention SDS.
You’ve probably heard of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Maybe you’re also familiar with Alexander Pushkin or Fyodor Dostoevsky. But unless you’re actively studying Russian, your knowledge of the literature courses offered by the Russian department may not extend far beyond the infamous supposed layup, RUSS 13, “Slavic Folklore: Vampires, Witches and Firebirds.” Regardless of its reputation as a low-stress class, the survey of Russian fairytales explores themes present throughout classes offered in Russian literature, language, history and culture: themes surprisingly relevant to the war and peace of today’s political climate.
Over the past four years, I have seen Dartmouth up close. My time here has been marked by those extra, most-Dartmouth-y experiences like Dimensions, a study abroad term and Greek rush. I sought these experiences because I loved Dartmouth and wanted the hyper-normative status that these experiences denote.
Where do you go to find peace at Dartmouth?
At Dartmouth, the most notable body of water for many students is one that doesn’t make any waves — the Connecticut River, a favorite swimming spot whenever it is warm outside. The river holds a special place in the hearts of many people on campus, especially during sophomore summer. Swimming in the river’s pleasantly cool waters with the sun shining on your face is pure bliss. And the dams spaced along the river mean that in certain spots, the water feels completely still, no waves or current to be felt.
Beach or pool?
“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”
Last June, NASA chief scientist Jim Green told USA Today with certainty that humans will be on Mars in the near future. The prospect of starting over on a new planet once we’ve decimated this one is beginning to feel ever-so-slightly less like science fiction than I’m comfortable with. The mere 12 years afforded to the world to stop climate change in its tracks by last year’s UN report can feel a bit like a death sentence. Meanwhile, evidence of historical bodies of water on the now-dry planet of Mars suggests that past life on the planet, at least, is not out of the question.
When I tell my friends from home that Dartmouth requires its students to pass a swim test in order to graduate, I’m usually met with several common responses: disbelief, laughter, pity and pure confusion being a few. Most people will respond with something like, “What’s the point of having a swim test at a college? You’re there to gain academic skill and knowledge, not to learn how to get from one end of a pool to the other!” At least, my parents definitely said something along those lines.
Until recently, I didn’t think it was possible to get sunburned in April ... at least, not in New Hampshire. On one of the first (and few) beautiful days we’ve had this term, I sat outside on the Green for over six hours, doing nothing at all but chatting and people-watching. By the end of the day, my back was striped red where my tank top wasn’t, because in my mind, sunscreen is for beach days in July when the heat is so strong that we pale folk just know we’re going to burn. In the summer, we prepare accordingly.
We’ve all heard the saying “age is but a number,” and we see it right before our eyes here at Dartmouth. Though we are mostly all in our early 20s, sometimes it feels as if we are running out of time. Deadline after deadline, term after term, we’re always looking one step ahead, and our time here flies right past us. We worry about our summer plans in winter, what classes we are going to take next term while we’re in the middle of this term and where we’re going to be employed when we’re still students. In the face of all this planning, graduation comes along right before we know it, and we’re left wondering what the heck happened to the past four years.
What has been your favorite Dartmouth memory?