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We’re only a couple of weeks into the new year, but fortunately, we now have promises from states across the country that the general public will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the months ahead. So, it seems reasonable to assume that the latter half of the year will usher in a badly needed wave of normalcy. However, if there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that so many of the things we hold dear are incredibly fragile: the presence of our loved ones, our ability to progress academically and professionally and our ability to socialize freely.
This past weekend, the first part of the 14th annual Dartmouth Idol semifinals took place virtually. Breaking from the traditional format of the beloved competition, the kickoff event combined footage from previous competitions with audition tapes from this year’s semifinalists.
When I virtually signed Dartmouth’s “Community Expectations” agreement last summer, I didn’t think much of a certain line. I agreed to “receive a vaccine for COVID-19, should one become available that is both FDA- and Dartmouth-approved,” if I wanted to live on campus and access Dartmouth’s facilities. At that point, a COVID-19 vaccine seemed years away — a promise overshadowed by the stress of preparing for a virtual academic year.
As the pandemic drags on into the new year, many people are getting sick of strictly adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. With the first doses of the vaccine rolling out across the country, some have started to let their guards down and regard restrictions with a more lax attitude.
Every winter, Hanover undergoes a transformation. The days get shorter, temperatures plummet and snow covers campus. However, this winter features a more dramatic shift than usual. As Dartmouth prepares to welcome students back for the winter term, signs of a more fun, social experience are appearing around campus.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost a full year ago, I’ve thought a lot about the future of art. If art is a mode of self-expression, what happens when your sense of self, removed from the places and people that shape it, is rocked? If art is a vessel for our joy, what happens when the sources of joy change? I was afraid that life in lockdown would make us too tired to create things, or that stress and lack of materials would immobilize us even when we wanted to create things. I hoped that making things was such an inherently human act that it would pull us through the wildest of circumstances.
Every January, gyms fill up with fresh-faced clientele eager to fulfill New Year’s resolutions made the night before over glasses of champagne. For many, New Year’s resolutions are a way to try something new, refocus on old rhythms or buckle down on long-term goals. After the dumpster fire of 2020, it’s hard to say whether New Year’s resolutions feel completely irrelevant or more important than ever. In this edition of Mirror Asks, a few Mirror writers share their own thoughts on the new year and the things they’re looking forward to in 2021, both big and small.
Well, we’re back. In the past few weeks, many of us have celebrated holidays without the company of our extended families, we’ve seen the beginning stages of the COVID-19 vaccine dissemination, we’ve said goodbye to 2020 and we’ve watched the government run amok at the tail end of Donald Trump’s presidency. There’s a lot to process, but there is also a lot to be grateful for, including our health, our loved ones and being able to return to Dartmouth for another term, whether virtually or in person.
On Jan. 4, the Boston Red Sox announced the hiring of former Dartmouth softball player Bianca Smith ’12 as a minor league coach, making her the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball history. Smith joins former Dartmouth football coaches Callie Brownson and Jennifer King, both now coaching in the NFL, as trailblazing female coaches with a Dartmouth connection.
In 1934, Ford Wheldon ’34 felt compelled to air a grievance to the College.
Dartmouth’s 14 recognized senior societies and various unrecognized ones are gearing up to pass the torches on to the next senior class in a process known as “tapping.” This winter’s fully remote tapping process, which will embrace text messages, emails and Zoom calls, comes nearly a year after many current members of senior societies themselves underwent tapping virtually.
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Jan. 6, as law enforcement worked to secure the Capitol from a Trump-incited insurrection, the Associated Press projected that Democrat Jon Ossoff had won the U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia. Ossoff and fellow Democratic senator-elect Raphael Warnock notched key victories in the previously red state, delivering the party a majority in the Senate — thanks, in part, to a consistent closing message advocating $2000 stimulus checks for all Americans.
In less than a week, Dartmouth students will awaken Hanover from its winter break hibernation. Many of the bright-eyed freshmen who were present last term will be gone, replaced by older students who have experienced Dartmouth at its best and most normal. How will these older students, with higher expectations of what a Dartmouth term should look like, react to the restricted and watered-down version being served? Not well, we can assume. This may put the community at risk from COVID-19 if frustrated students look to off-campus — and very likely non-COVID-19 safe — options for social life.
With limited opportunities for social interaction, the demands of virtual classes and the ongoing instability posed by the pandemic, fall term saw students grappling with isolation and anxiety alongside their coursework. Now, as students gear up for a New Hampshire winter and another pandemic-era term, the College has taken recent steps to increase mental health support — yet concerns linger that resources may still be lacking.
On Wednesday, the world watched in horror as a mob of right-wing insurrectionists launched a coordinated attack on the Capitol building, forcing the hurried evacuation of elected officials and leaving five dead — among them, a Capitol police officer. Broadcast live for all to see, this embarrassing display of antidemocratic chaos further tarnished the United States’ reputation as a champion of democracy. In its aftermath, some analysts have warned that the nation may face a new era of increasing political violence.
Last fall, three students came together with the idea of developing a new publication to connect Dartmouth undergraduates with the wider literary world. This December, the efforts of Frances Mize ’22, Avery Saklad ’21 and Ethan Weinstein ’21 came to fruition in the first edition of Meetinghouse, a literary magazine that has already attracted submissions from over 1,200 authors and poets from around the world.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the country and in the Upper Valley, some students have voiced concerns over the availability of support from the College should they become infected. According to several students who contracted COVID-19 during the fall term, the College’s academic and mental health support systems were inadequate during their illness and recovery.
As students prepare to return to campus in less than two weeks, the College has reported that a total of 20 students, faculty and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week — a sudden spike after a fall term that saw generally low case numbers. As of Friday morning, there are 24 active cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff, and 59 community members are in quarantine or isolation, either at their homes in the Hanover area or on campus.
The Ivy League’s November cancellation of winter sports, and its decision not to move fall sports to the spring, have dashed senior athletes’ hopes for a proper sendoff. Due to the league’s staunch policy against graduate athletic participation, many student-athletes have transferred out of the conference to take advantage of their final years of eligibility.
The nation’s hottest commodity — Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine — can trace its roots in part back to a discovery made at the Geisel School of Medicine. Jason McLellan, a structural biologist who worked at Geisel from 2013 to 2018, identified structural aspects of coronaviruses that can be manipulated to give a person immunity — a discovery utilized in the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.