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Woodward: Oh Dartmouth, My Dartmouth

(06/01/15 10:38pm)

I am fortunate to have the privilege of writing the closing column on the last day of publication of this academic year and my college career. Unsurprisingly, it took me quite a bit of time to figure out what I wanted to say — what kernels of senior wisdom I sought to impart, what deep reflections or advice I could disperse. I feel, however, that making readers peruse 1,000 words of my stream of sleep-deprived, nostalgic consciousness is selfish. Senior staff members have already published such farewell pieces in last week’s Mirror, so I will not presume to bore you with that banality here.

Woodward: The Potential of Deliberation

(05/18/15 10:38pm)

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the annual Hanover Town Hall meeting as part of an experiential learning element for my class, “Democratic Theory” — we spent over three hours listening to debates over tax rates, multi-use bicycle paths and re-zoning initiatives as Hanover constituents engaged in their annual deliberations. Every person had an opportunity to speak, discussion was moderated and the sense of civic responsibility in the room was almost tangible.

Woodward: An Effortless Response

(04/22/15 10:23pm)

My initial reaction to yesterday’s column “Difficult to Recognize” by Michelle Gil ’16 was likely similar to most of the reactions from others who had read it — or at least everyone who’s been vocal about it on Yik Yak or shared it on Facebook in the past 24 hours. I thought to myself, “Huh. I wish I had mustered the gumption to write that column. I’m glad someone finally expressed their views in such a blunt manner on such a widely-read forum.” My remorse, however, was incredibly short-lived. At a second glance what I read horrified me, and I took it upon myself to refute it. As a senior who still bleeds green, despite everything that’s happened and despite all of the evidence Gil cites — the accurate, the inaccurate and the misconstrued — about the College’s backward evolution, I expect nothing less from myself.

Woodward: A Speaker for the Ages

(04/20/15 10:03pm)

With the dusk of our undergraduate careers looming, there is a growing curiosity among members of the Class of 2015 as to who our commencement speaker will be come June 14. Having had the privilege of attending three of the past four commencements, I’m looking forward to the reveal with great anticipation. Will it be another producer like Shonda Rhimes ’91, the genius behind shows like “Scandal” (2012) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005), or perhaps another social justice warrior like Geoffrey Canada, president of Harlem Children’s Zone? I imagine it’s beyond the realm of possibility that we may have the pleasure of hearing someone like Conan O’Brien, the late night television host who spoke in 2011.

Woodward: Social Science Syndrome

(04/06/15 10:42pm)

When giving tours for prospective students, tour guides like myself like to advertise the College’s liberal arts character, praising its lack of a core curriculum and assuring that, despite our distributive requirements, the breadth of academic possibility the school offers is as vast as the number of departments we have — that the Dartmouth name on our diploma offers the same prestige whether we choose to study chemistry or studio art. I used to buy wholeheartedly into that assertion. Now, in my senior spring, I’m not so sure.

Woodward: Nor Any a Drop to Drink

(03/06/15 12:58am)

“Alcohol, alcohol everywhere, nor any a drop to drink.” I may have taken some creative license with Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s words, but the sentiment rings true. I sat down with members of my coeducational fraternity last night to lay down the law as its president — no hard alcohol for anyone, anywhere or anytime after March 27. Needless to say, the reaction within my own slice of Dartmouth mirrors what I’ve seen from campus at large — most of the members resent the hard alcohol ban on principle.

Woodward: The Road to Intellectualism

(02/23/15 12:52am)

A major point of College President Phil Hanlon’s “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan is the emphasis on strengthening academic rigor. As I discussed with my peers and some faculty members at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, however, perhaps the phrase “academic rigor” is merely a red herring — one that has become conflated with Hanlon’s goal of a more intellectual campus. I maintain that the best way to have a holistic “positive impact on student life and behaviors” at Dartmouth is not “to increase the rigor of our curriculum.” Rather, we should strive toward a culture that rewards and prioritizes learning and curiosity outside of the classroom, where conversations among friends and peers are dominated by relevant academic discourse instead of trivialities and student life issues. Curbing grade inflation or increasing the number of early classes will not achieve that end. If Hanlon wants us all to be “24/7/365-day-a-year learners,” he must focus on encouraging the development of our collective intellectualism in lieu of proposals that will likely change nothing but our already excessive stress levels.

Woodward: Smoke and Mirrors

(02/10/15 12:35am)

An intense focus on a single issue once again dominates popular discussion on campus — this time “Moving Dartmouth Forward,” arguably the biggest announcement by a College President in recent memory. There are some, however, that question the characterization of College President Phil Hanlon’s new plan as groundbreaking. The proposed changes, hard alcohol ban aside, appear are unlikely to be the biggest changes to hit the College since coeducation. Instead, what I see is a campaign of smoke and mirrors.

Woodward: The Specter of Zionism

(01/23/15 4:05am)

The state of Israel, as declared in 1948 by first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, was founded with the goal of “complete equality of social and political rights for all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” Nearly 70 years later, that basic tenet of the Israeli state has yet to be fully realized. Ben-Gurion failed to follow through on Israel’s “democratic” character, neglecting to create a codified constitution, a bill of rights and the legal separation of church and state . The absence of these elements has led to a fundamental tension in Israeli democracy — can the state be both democratic and Jewish? The answer seems to be no.

Woodward: Taking the Plunge

(01/09/15 3:50am)

Coming back from the last long break many of us will have for a while, I can’t help but notice how subdued our campus climate seems. More than a month of traveling, resting at home and enjoying a holiday devoid of papers or problem sets seems to have made us all more calm and collected. In many ways, winter term — the shortest term of the year — represents the epitome of our ability to focus and keep our Dartmouth experience in perspective. With such a short while on campus, we simply cannot afford to waste any time on unnecessary “excess,” whatever form that excess might take.

Woodward: Wherefore Art Thou, Mr. President?

(11/17/14 10:42pm)

“It is time for Dartmouth to change. And as your president, I will lead that change.” College President Phil Hanlon said these words at his April presidential summit, when he launched a process of reform to end harmful behavior in the areas of sexual assault, high-risk drinking and a lack of inclusivity, driven by the mechanism of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” steering committee. He cited “the grave disconnect between our culture in the classroom and the behaviors outside of it” as the basis of necessary change, and I’m certainly inclined to support him in that notion. However, our president must also recognize that there is now a grave disconnect between our student culture and the perceptions of administrators working to change it. In this time of uncertainty, veiled animosity and seemingly pointless resistance to the inevitability of change, the Dartmouth student body requires stability, receptivity and solidarity in the dialogue with the powers that be.

Woodward: Mend the Schism

(10/30/14 9:12pm)

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” our 16th President Abraham Lincoln said in 1858, an ominous preview of events to come. Right now, Dartmouth is a house divided. A house divided by animosity, a lack of understanding and a nebulous dialogue that stems from an unwillingness to engage with one another. Lately, the prevailing perception on campus is that Greek organizations and administrative committees are engaged in an arms race. It seems as though we are preparing for an inevitable civil war of our own — a war born from a lack of trust. To most it seems like the time for talking has past, but I hope that is not the case. If it is, Dartmouth is already doomed, regardless of any future reforms.

Woodward: Help Us Help You

(10/02/14 11:41pm)

Following the conclusion of men and women’s rush this past week, certain inescapable realities about the recruitment process once again reared their ugly heads. Despite the Panhellenic Council’s extensive efforts to improve the manner in which houses conduct rush — extending round two parties by 20 minutes to allow for more time to meet rush participants, pushing for all potential new members to receive invitations to round two parties at four houses — some women still fell through the cracks. Men too. While the raw aggregate numbers (297 bids were extended to women and at least 241 bids were extended to men) are impressive, it is still an unfortunate truth that single-sex Greek institutions have not completely mitigated how emotionally taxing the recruitment process is on the Dartmouth community. The process is rough for everyone, whether an individual receives a bid at his or her favorite house, gets put in one of his or her bottom two or simply drops out.

Woodward: ‘Freedom’ Facts

(03/05/14 12:39am)

While you may choose to disregard this column as simply one of many reiterative pieces written on the Dartmouth “Freedom Budget” in the past two weeks, I urge you to reconsider. I’m here to clarify the history behind the original document that those who signed Dartmouth’s version said was the genesis of their efforts. They wrote they were “invok[ing] The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.” However, the original proposal, “A Freedom Budget for All Americans,” has much less to do with King than that line indicates. In fact, the two documents have less in common than the Dartmouth proposal would suggest. I will point out some critical divergences between the two documents and their inception, divergences that highlight the difference between previous inclusive progressive rhetoric and the current tension-filled atmosphere at Dartmouth.

Woodward: Where is the Unity?

(02/14/14 12:26am)

At this moment there is nothing that Dartmouth’s collective community cares more about than the Bored at Baker incident — it reminds us intensely of the potential for great cruelty that exists in our midst. Our student body is incredible at showing spontaneous solidarity in the face of issues like this one. The community gathering on the Green Monday evening was inspiring and poignant in its simple, elegant statement: We are Dartmouth, and we are better than this. But only a relatively small fraction, maybe a quarter of campus, came to show support despite numerous blitzes and personal invitations from all corners of campus. So the question is why so few?

Woodward: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

(01/21/14 10:18pm)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recently unveiled “democratization package” has the world feeling cautiously optimistic about the country’s stability. Changes include the strengthening of Kurdish minority language rights, the lifting of a ban on Islamic headscarves for women in public institutions and altering the electoral system to benefit smaller parties. Has Turkey, fresh from a summer of its own Tahrir Square-type protests, finally begun moving in a progressive direction?