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The beginning of the school year has seen myriad changes at Dartmouth, not all of them necessarily good. The disconnect between students and the administration seems to grow ever wider. Like many juniors, I’ll be taking two terms away from campus, so I can’t imagine what Dartmouth will be like next spring. Given how small campus is, there is a surprising lack of empathy at Dartmouth. The disconnect between students and administration, as well as many of the problems with our campus culture, could be resolved if both sides practiced different kinds of empathy.
I spent the summer before Dartmouth in a constant state of buoyancy. I was finally done with high school, which meant I was finally free to do whatever I wanted in college. The possibilities felt endless. I told myself, as Carey Mulligan did in “An Education”: “I’m going to read what I want and listen to what I want, and I’m going to look at paintings and watch French films and I’m going to talk to people who know lots about lots.” Early on, I set my heart on economics and comparative literature double-majors and a minor in music with the kind of confidence of someone who knew nothing. The D-Plan, with all its touted flexibility, seemed like the perfect vehicle for my academic plans. And as someone who wanted as much range in her studies as possible, I thought the combination I had chosen was perfect.
Every time I pass through the Hopkins Center this summer, I feel disconcerted by how empty the building is. Student-led tour groups, which usually crowd the space in front of Moore theater, are now outside, enjoying balmy weather on the Green. Voices can sometimes be heard floating over from the Hinman mailboxes, but no one is seen. The windows of the Courtyard Café are dark, while the hallway next to it seems perpetually submerged in half-darkness. Granted, campus is a lot emptier during summer, but the silence permeating the Hop seems especially out of the ordinary.
The premiere of “Crazy Rich Asians” and the inception of the Facebook group Subtle Asian Traits were only a month apart last fall, marking a turning point in how Asian identities are perceived in mainstream media. Despite their names, both the film and the online community cater more toward an audience of Asian descent than an Asian audience. “Crazy Rich Asians,” a Hollywood film, was made for American Asian viewers. The scope and reach of Subtle Asian Traits has become much greater. The group was started by a handful of Australian high schoolers in Melbourne to bond over what it meant to be the children of Chinese immigrants. Intending it to be a local Facebook community, the students had added all of their Asian friends and classmates, but then membership increased exponentially to a thousand people within a few weeks through the same process. Subtle Asian Traits currently has over 1.1 million members globally, many of whom live overseas in Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and other Western countries. And while “Crazy Rich Asians” has experienced an unprecedented amount of mainstream success for a film of its genre, Subtle Asian Traits is ultimately more effective when it comes to representing and building the global Asian community.
In the past, I had never considered myself a “poetry person” — not because I disliked it, but because I couldn’t seem to understand it. I could appreciate a poem only after several rereads, a critical analysis and perhaps some outside research to catch any allusions I’d missed. I liked the work behind understanding a poem, but there was never a point when my enjoyment from poetry came naturally.
Classical music is generally thought of as a pretentious genre written by European men, for European men. Classically trained musicians typically spend their formative years of study learning works by canonical European male composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; only after do they get the chance to study more contemporary music.
Rupi Kaur is an Instagram and Tumblr poet you’ve likely read. Of the hundreds of thousands of young poets who share their work on the internet, the 25-year-old Punjabi-Canadian has been the most successful by far. Her first book of poetry, “Milk and Honey,” was self-published in 2014 and republished a year later by Andrews McMeel Publishing. It quickly topped The New York Times Bestsellers List and, in 2016, outsold the next best-selling work of poetry, “The Odyssey,” by a factor of 10.
On GroupMe and Snapchat, most exchanges with my friends begin with questions like: “Breakfast at 7:10 a.m.?” “Lunch after class?” “Collis or Foco?” At 10 p.m. on any given day, we can be found at the Hop for Late Night (“$5.50 for a fruit cup?!”) calculating how many meal swipes we’ve used that week. Over the past month, campus dining has streamlined my diet into a rotation of salads, pasta, omelettes and smoothies. Most nights I pair the latest offering from Ma Thayer’s with cantaloupe cubes while my more athletic friends gorge themselves on plates of pizza and grilled cheese. Yet as someone who believes that “you are what you eat,” I’ve felt that an essential part of me is missing.
When I first read Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” as a high school student, I loved its romanticization of academia. The novel ostensibly focuses on the aesthetics of higher education. The main character, Richard Papen, arrives at the fictitious Hampden College and instantly falls in love with New England. He later manages to join five other students in the school’s exclusive classics department and spends most of his time bonding with his classmates over studying Greek literature.