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“I could’ve done better.” For a long time, that thought has been nestled comfortably into my headspace, surfacing with frustrating regularity. It’s what I told myself after every high school debate tournament in which I couldn’t conquer my anxieties, after every column I’ve written for The Dartmouth that didn’t convey the eloquence I wish I had, after every exam, every race, every interview. Recently, it’s a conclusion to which I’ve returned repeatedly when reflecting on my Dartmouth experience.
Wherever you stand on the ideological spectrum, it is hard to deny the fact that things in the White House are not quite running like “a fine-tuned machine,” as President Trump recently tweeted they were. The reason why Trump’s supporters continue to make this denial is not just because they have a different moral framework, conflicting policy priorities or even because they have a lower level of education, as many self-entitled liberals love to contend. Rather, the Left has shown an inability to criticize Trump in a meaningful way. Their sarcastic laughter and self-righteousness have failed, just like the Trump regime has. Before we keep pointing fingers, we need to establish what we really want from a President, what actually makes a good leader and how Trump has so far proved an undeniably unsuccessful one.
Summer has been strange so far. It has been hard to reconcile the beautiful, sunny, languid days with the looming realization that real work needs to get done. Going from a swim in the river to a frat barbeque or a trip to Ice Cream Fore-U straight back to 3rd Floor Berry has not aligned well with my usual rhythm. On top of this sense of summer lethargy I realized that I also feel an acute sense of guilt. Despite doing all my scheduled work and signing up for as many recruiting sessions I can fit into my schedule, I feel frustrated with how little sleep I am getting and how hectic my daily life has become.
I have never felt unsafe on this campus. The weathered buildings straight out of the 18th century, the scenic mountain views and the vivid blades of grass on the Green never posed a threat to me. This space has always been a space of beauty, of quiet comfort, of deep self-reflection. It has always been a space of security. Until now.
Stanford University researcher Walter Mischel’s “Marshmallow Experiment” has become a classic child psychology test. A group of 3- to 5-year-old children were given a choice between eating a marshmallow immediately upon receiving it or waiting 15 minutes and being rewarded with a second one. About 30 percent of children succeeded in delaying gratification, and years later, those children were found to be more socially and academically successful. The low-delayers were more likely to have higher body mass indices, addiction problems and an overall lower rate of success.
When I leave Streeter Hall every morning, I am usually too distracted to notice my surroundings, but last weekend I felt unsettled after registering that my daily route is adjacent to a cemetery. There is nothing particularly odd about the cemetery itself, but its integration into campus feels unusual. What bothered me about the cemetery was not that it was there, that it lacked a border or the feeling of encroachment on a spiritual space, but rather what its vicinity symbolized about Dartmouth.
When French president-elect Emmanuel Macron’s victory in Sunday’s election was announced, my first reaction was a breath of relief. My second was an inane little voice inside my head whispering, “Oh, no. It’s still just us.” The fact that Front National candidate Marine Le Pen failed in France — and by a wide margin — while President Donald Trump succeeded in the United States gives us one less excuse for our now cartoonish image on the world stage.
Among the countless animal videos, fashion ads and memes in my Facebook feed, I noticed one striking trend: a massive amount of political content. Then I noticed another: Throughout the hour or so I spent scrolling through my feed, every political status or shared article represented views that I already agreed with.
An admitted student and his father walked through the admissions office door during one of my shifts last week. The father asked me, “Is Dartmouth a really big party school? Because if so, it probably isn’t the right place for my son.” I had no time to share with him everything I had on my mind. My brief answer to them was that Dartmouth is known for far more important things than its Greek culture and that while no campus will ever be perfect, the issues that plague us also plague every other elite institution in the country. I then passed them on to an admissions officer, who sat down with them for a lengthier conversation.
Americans spend an average of around $17 billion on Easter every year. With the copious amounts of food, clothing and gifts purchased for the occasion, the holiday provides retailers across the country with a vigorous revenue boost. Originally a religious and cultural tradition centered on modesty, humility and hope, this holiday is almost nationally celebrated and universally capitalized.
One thousand, five hundred and forty-two high school seniors from almost every corner of the world opened their acceptance letters to Dartmouth on March 30. While they rejoiced, eager to become members of the Class of 2021, around 18,000 others were met with the words, “We regret to inform you…” For an 18-year-old, rejection from an elite university can be crushing. For years, academic institutions have indoctrinated their students with an obsessive desire for validation and an aversion to failure beginning from a young age. But what those students do not know is that the colleges and universities of their dreams are victims of the same systematic fear of rejection.
Believe it or not, it is already week two. We trudged through a snowstorm for April Fools’ Day, forced our livers back into full gear over the weekend and wound up again with dark circles underneath our eyes again. Things are starting to get serious – as we finally settle into our classes, we now have to catch up on our readings, pay attention to our professors and start working for the midterms and assignments coming up. This stressful consciousness of our impending workload could not be more different from the cushy, carefree first week most of us experienced as we “shopped” for classes but didn’t necessarily do work for them.
Before spending the winter term in Paris, everyone I had spoken to who had gone on a study abroad program had sworn by the life-changing wisdom and experience they had gained. I did not believe them. I knew that, just like most statements by Dartmouth students, those opinions were hyperbolized, omitting the negatives while exaggerating the positives, creating the illusion of satisfaction or happiness despite what exists beneath the surface. I would not say that I was right, but I was not wrong either.
In an Oct. 26 interview with Donald Trump, CNN reporter Dana Bash noted the president-elect’s large bank account and grilled him on how much money he was willing to spend on advertising in his final two-week sprint towards the White House. Eventually, Trump had to ask Bash to move on to a different question, and in doing so he implied a major — even alarming — flaw in the news and media industry, namely money and what its ramifications are for the journalism that reaches us.
Before the first leaf even hit the ground this fall, every pumpkin patch, apple tree and square foot of foliage became coveted backdrops for many Dartmouth students’ new Facebook profile photos. Fall brings the entire campus closer and provides a rare opportunity for many to interact with nature. Unfortunately, for most students much of that connection to nature is superficial and rooted in shallow aesthetics, which undermines the importance of caring for nature as more than just a pretty backdrop.
In the final sprint of arguably the most bizarre election in American history, every possible news source is beyond saturated with the words “Trump” and “Clinton.” Like many Americans, I am tired. I am tired of the political vitriol, the crude and indecent dialogue and the utter failure of the media and candidates to ge nuinely address matters of substance. I am tired of having to justify everything as a choice between the lesser of two evils. And most of all, I am tired of feeling embarrassed, as an American citizen, of the international laughingstock we have become.
President Barack Obama’s gray hair, tired eyes and wrinkled forehead tell us one thing: leading this country, carrying its weight on your shoulders and pushing it through all the hurdles that come its way is not easy. His job demands an incredible amount of stamina — enough to travel to multiple countries in a week, giving speeches in all of them while making monumental military decisions and staying on top of domestic issues. It demands the agility and intellectual capacity to process information quickly, make swift yet calculated decisions and handle almost inhumane levels of stress.
I will begin with a welcome and a disclaimer.
On May 5, The Dartmouth Editorial Board published a piece titled “Verbum Ultimum: Real Term, Real Education” in which it addressed the deficiencies in course offerings and academic resources provided by the College during sophomore summer. As a required on-term for most undergraduates, sophomore summer serves both as part of a system to work around shortages in on-campus housing capacity, and as a way for sophomores to develop deeper connections with members of their own class, enjoy the beautiful Hanover summer landscape and take on leadership roles within the organizations they participate in. However, while sophomore summer is in so many ways a unique experience, it is still one that the College mandates and expects its students to treat seriously. By not supplying the same level and variety in course offerings or options for academic engagement, the College is counterproductively limiting the depth of that experience.
Almost exactly a year ago today, I made the decision to come to Dartmouth. Unlike many of my peers, my choice was not entirely an easy one. Picturesque Hanover was nothing like the bustling streets of New York City. It was by all means quieter and more beautiful, with the fresh air and grassy scent that seem all but impossible to find in the city, but it was also more isolated and far less familiar. Dartmouth gave me the ideal, dreamy “Ivy-League” education, but at a cost. From a financial standpoint, I could have chosen a college that offered me a merit scholarship equivalent to a full ride. This scholarship would have provided the opportunity for a guaranteed job at a prestigious institution for four years at no cost and would have been an excellent source from which to develop the skills I needed for the field I then imagined I would be heading into. But I decided to let my heart think, and I chose the dream instead.