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Professors, as well as the administration, love to tell us to put our health first. They tell us to sleep and to eat and to take care of our mental health — and to put all those things before our schoolwork. And yet, the incentive to sacrifice our physical, mental and emotional health on the altar of academia remains. If we want a culture of healthier and happier students, and people in general, then we need new norms. Extensions, understanding and academic flexibility must all become a deeper part of Dartmouth’s culture.
This editors’ note is featured in the 2021 Homecoming special issue.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This column is featured in the 2021 Freshman special issue.
The American education system’s dismal underperformance compared with other wealthy and developed nations is well-established. More troubling than the disparity between the U.S. education system and those of other wealthy nations, however, are the vast disparities found between schools in the United States. There is tremendous variation in school quality — including academic and extracurricular offerings, college and career counseling and teaching effectiveness — across the United States. Moreover, the reason why this variation in quality exists is clear: vast discrepancies in funding. The American public school system needs reform — funding should be based on the number of students, not the wealth of their parents and school district.
We live in a world where many of our problems — climate change, poverty, inequality and more — are caused or exacerbated by corporations. It is easy, as individuals, to settle for just posting about these issues on social media platforms rather than striving for tangible change. And who could blame us for buying an unsustainable outfit on Shein, eating a sandwich from the homophobic Chick-fil-A or using a plastic grocery bag? Most of us did not directly cause or contribute to the major issues plaguing our world, and we have our own problems, such as being college students during a pandemic with a scarcity of time and money. Changing our behavior when we already have such a small individual impact seems almost pointless. However, we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.
This past June, the Supreme Court handed its latest victory to religious interests in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the most recent in a series of rulings expanding the scope of freedom of religion under the First Amendment. The Court unanimously sided with Catholic Social Services, an organization that did not recognize marriages between same-sex partners and refused to certify them as foster parents, allowing the organization to retain their place as an official foster service provider for Philadelphia. The case is yet another in the trend of organizations, corporations, and individuals using religious liberty to justify discrimination — over the past decade, an unprecedented series of ‘wins’ for religious freedom have threatened some protections against employment discrimination, allowed the refusal of service to LGBTQ+ people and weakened access to reproductive healthcare. We as a society must more specifically define what religious freedom is and is not and combat its use to harm marginalized communities.
This column is featured in the 2021 Spring special issue.
On May 11, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced a new bill: the Ivory Tower Tax Act. The proposed legislation would tax the endowments of some of America’s wealthiest colleges and universities — Dartmouth included — in order to subsidize workforce training programs, even going so far as to require these schools to decrease their endowments over time. The reasoning? Cotton believes that these universities are helping the wealthy become wealthier while teaching students “un-American ideas.” According to Cotton, increasing trade school programs, on the other hand, would help create more “high paying, working-class jobs.” The problem, however, is that this act seeks to counteract economic and opportunity inequality not by addressing their root causes, but by undermining the systems working to fix them.
With India now averaging more than one million new cases of COVID-19 every three days as well as thousands of deaths daily, the country is in the midst of one of the worst outbreaks that the world has seen during the pandemic. This crisis has only been compounded by the country’s weak national health care infrastructure, medical supply shortages and low vaccination rates — to date, only 2% of India’s population has been fully vaccinated.
The health of the environment is one of the most pressing issues of this century. If we do not make drastic changes soon, we will be left with a planet that is difficult to recognize — one plagued by rising sea levels, melting ice caps, bleached coral, loss of animal habitats, floods and heatwaves. Given the existential crisis we are facing, it is understandable that books, articles, documentaries and social media posts urging people to take individual action against climate change have become commonplace in recent years, pushing them to shift to a plant-based diet and reduce their carbon footprint, to recycle and reduce their waste and to limit their use of gas, water and electricity to reduce energy consumption. Yet while all of the above are commendable, environmentally-conscious habits, they leave out an important piece of the puzzle — the responsibility corporations bear for getting us into this mess in the first place.
Including the recent gun violence incidents in Colorado and Georgia, there have now been 103 mass shootings — defined by the Gun Violence Archive as an incident in which four or more people are shot — in the United States this year. This means that in 2021, the U.S. has averaged more than one mass shooting per day. 2021 is not unique, though — for five consecutive years since 2015, the U.S. has seen more than 300 mass shootings annually. In 2018 and 2019, the U.S. saw more of these events than calendar days.
Last Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced legislation in the Senate proposing a tax on the ultra-wealthy. A wealth tax is notable because it taxes net worth rather than income, making it harder for wealthy people who have low incomes to escape taxes. If passed, Americans with wealth greater than $50 million would pay an annual tax of 2% on all their assets. For those with over $1 billion in assets, there would be a 3% annual tax on their wealth above that threshold. Although Warren’s tax is backed by many progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., it has received widespread backlash from conservative legislators and even a few Democrats, including President Joe Biden himself. Critics claim that the proposed tax is too difficult to enforce, that it would reduce America’s gross domestic product and that it would cause the ultra-wealthy to simply move abroad; these are important points on the complicated nature of wealth taxes. Yet the American public’s support for such a tax, as well as Warren’s many improvements on past attempts at a wealth tax, cannot be ignored.
As Americans we like to pride ourselves on the ideal of the American Dream. The reality, as recent decades have made clear, is much harsher. Parental income and geography have a huge impact on success. The middle class is shrinking. Upward mobility in the United States has steadily declined with each new generation. Income inequality and stagnating wages make it increasingly difficult for those from less privileged backgrounds to attain success. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Social Mobility Index ranked the U.S. in 27th place, behind many other developed nations.
This column is featured in the 2021 Winter Carnival special issue.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 introduced the first across-the-board federal minimum wage in American history. The aim was that the minimum wage — 25 cents per hour at the time — would provide a standard to protect the health and well-being of people in working-class jobs. The thought was that workers should at least be able to support themselves by working full time.
After four years filled with barely disguised racism, misinformation about COVID-19, denial of election results and impeachment (on a record-setting two separate occasions), President Donald Trump is finally leaving office. We voted him out in November, and in only a few days, President-elect Joe Biden will take office. But as damaging as Trump has been, he is not the cause of all of our political issues. Rather, he is a symptom of a wider right-wing movement that has come to play a major role in American political life.
Since the world shut down back in March, most of us, myself included, have been anticipating the end of the pandemic and hoping to get back to our regular lives. And with recent news of the apparently successful Pfizer vaccine, many of us have grown even more fixated on ending this crisis. However, with so much time devoted to predicting the end of the pandemic, its causes are often overlooked. Our society made choices that allowed this pandemic to occur, and we need to evaluate them so that we can avoid similar disasters in the future.
During election season, we love to talk about democracy. Between walking around Dartmouth’s campus and scrolling through Instagram, I have seen countless phrases such as “Make your voice heard” and “One person, one vote.” But how much impact do ordinary American citizens actually have on policy after we exercise that right to vote? Apparently, not much.
The 2020 election is the first time I am eligible to vote in a federal election, and as such, it also marks the first time I have religiously followed politics. I was very eager to cast my vote, but after opening up my mail-in ballot, something struck me: There were 28 names on the ballot for Hanover. Of those, 11 were women. The other 17 were men — a 40-60 split. And these numbers are actually on the high end for women — a Pew Research Center study shows that women make up merely a quarter of those who state that they have campaigned for election.