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If you were in Hanover this past summer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic was over. Masks came off, social interaction returned and Dartmouth dissolved its COVID-19 Task Force — all actions that seemed to emphasize the lack of a need to plan so intensely around the virus.
In the late hours on the first night of Sept. 1, the Supreme Court allowed Texas’s law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy to go into effect. The decision leaves the door open for further litigation, but in the meantime, the consequences have been disastrous. Abortion services have ground to a near-halt in Texas, depriving thousands of people of access to a vital form of healthcare. The decision was a legal travesty, best summed up by a line in Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s sharp dissent — “a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”
This column is featured in the 2021 Freshman special issue.
Less than an hour after polls closed in Hanover’s 2021 Town Meeting, news broke that David Millman ’23 had lost his campaign for Selectboard. His campaign deserves tremendous credit for trying to get a student onto the governing board of this town — and for driving engagement with key local policy issues among the student body.
In 2013, shortly before the last conflict between Israel and Gaza, the population of Israel’s West Bank settlements stood at just under 325,000 people. Eight years later, by the start of the most recent conflict — an 11-day war that claimed the lives of more than 200 — the population has surged to 475,000, and in the process, thousands of Palestinians have been displaced and seen their homes destroyed. Though last month’s conflict was centered in Gaza, where Israel has no outposts, the violence was precipitated by Israeli police raids and crackdowns on Palestinian protests — including protests against planned evictions of Palestinian residents from their homes in East Jerusalem — as well as violence from a far-right Israeli settlement organization, Lehava. Illegal Israeli settlements are the main problem, and the U.S., through the billions in foreign aid it offers to Israel each year, has unique leverage to stop them. Israel's continuing encroachment on the West Bank leads to violence and directly infringes on Palestinian human rights and sovereignty. The U.S. should halt foreign aid to Israel until it commits to ending settlement of the area.
This editors' note is featured in the 2021 Spring special issue.
How can we start preparing now for the next COVID-19? If you ask some of science and medicine’s best thinkers, the answer lies in monitoring and sequencing viruses in animals, continuing development of new vaccines and increasing funding to the WHO, among other approaches. To be sure, these ideas have great promise — but on their own, they can never be enough. In addition to harnessing innovations in science, preparing for the next pandemic will require a multi-pronged economic plan to tackle mounting financial and social inequities that contribute to the spread of disease and inhibit any attempts to stop it.
Out of the 18 Student Assembly positions up for election this year, only two are actively contested — and both of these are in East Wheelock House. For the other 16 positions, there’s either one candidate running or none, leaving voters with a write-in as their only option. As I’ve written previously, the near-total dearth of electoral competition is a serious threat to the legitimacy of SA. It’s clear that electing senators by house is a key part of this problem. The concept of running elections by house is arbitrary and results in a nonsensical electoral process, with only a handful of contested races and others lacking even a single candidate. Then there is the question of fairness: while houses are randomly sorted and have no unique interests, their differing sizes mean that the principle of “one person, one vote” is blatantly ignored.
In recent years, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has seemingly made it his mission to make our lives as college students as difficult as possible, refusing to vaccinate all of us, spreading blatant falsehoods to justify that choice and trying to take away our right to vote — the list goes on. From his rhetoric, it's clear that Sununu sees “out-of-state” students as enemies, a group of no use to him beyond serving as a political punching bag for him to show how he’s supposedly prioritizing the “real” New Hampshire residents. And he does this all while sitting on Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees — the body which elects the College President and has final authority on key decisions including the College’s budget. It’s a disgrace that someone with such demonstrated contempt for college students should be honored with a spot on the Board. If the College wants to show that it cares about students, Sununu must be removed, and the governor’s seat on the Board must be eliminated.
Last December, people across the globe watched with hope as American nurses and doctors received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses — only to see our country fall flat on its face as the rollout stalled despite the U.S.’ place as an epicenter of international vaccine development. Now that President Joe Biden has taken office, vowing to “listen to the scientists” and “shut down the virus,” things must have turned around, right? Not so fast — while the federal government’s leadership has undoubtedly improved, the Biden administration's goals for vaccination are relatively tame, at least according to many health experts. Under former President Donald Trump, the federal government falsely promised a near-miraculous rollout of the vaccine. We now face the opposite problem — the Biden administration is underselling the vaccine. It’s time to ramp up expectations and engage in a full bore campaign to get doses into arms as fast as the vaccines are manufactured.
Asian carp, garlic mustard, zebra mussels, lionfish, kudzu vines — the names of these invasive species might sound familiar. The United States is currently home to around 50,000 non-native species, around 4,300 of which are considered invasive. These are non-native species which can inflict significant damage on local ecosystems and overwhelm native species, often despite containment efforts.
This column is featured in the 2021 Winter Carnival special issue.
“Callous and full of blatant disregard,” “doing everything possible to screw us,” “ridiculous” — over the past six months, these have been the words with which the members of the Class of 2023 have described the handling of the pandemic. As a ’23 myself, I agree — our class has been screwed over. We’re enduring an unmitigated surge in COVID-19 cases, a disastrously slow vaccine rollout and more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. All of us are victims of a negligent response by the federal government and the misfortune of this virus arising in the first place.
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.
The end is here. Over 93 million people have already voted, with tens of millions more still to vote tomorrow. And then comes the count. Due to the high proportion of mail-in votes, election-night calls of certain key states, such as Pennsylvania, are highly unlikely. I for one, will likely stay up watching results anyway, while others will make the wise decision to go to bed and check in the morning. But whether you're glued to CNN or waking up to a phone alert the morning after, there’s something likely to be missing from your radar — the results of local elections.
Amid the general turmoil of the first presidential debate, it was easy to miss that Donald Trump made a truly extraordinary statement for a Republican president — when asked if human pollution contributes to climate change, he said “I think a lot of things do, but I think to an extent, yes.” Eight days later, Vice President Mike Pence said that the Trump administration will “always follow the science” on climate change.
Less than 72 hours after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump privately offered a Supreme Court nomination to Amy Coney Barrett, a staunchly conservative judge and self-described ideological counterpart to Justice Antonin Scalia. The judicial majorities which uphold abortion rights, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act now stand imperiled. But no judicial confirmation should ever have had such apocalyptic stakes. A single elderly judge has died, a tragic personal loss for her family, friends and admirers — but one which should not be able to dictate the political trajectory of the United States.
On Sept. 9, the University of Michigan-Dearborn announced a “non-POC cafe” for white students to discuss their experiences with race on campus — and drew sharp criticism on social media after students posted images of the invitation. The university swiftly apologized, offering the explanation that it had merely wished to educate white students and “provide members of [its] campus community with opportunities to reflect on their lived experiences.” Yet no matter how it may be justified, enforced segregation yields damaging effects and has not been proven effective in overcoming bias.
According to Tom Friedan, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. could need up to 300,000 contact tracers to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, distributing any potential vaccine, especially to areas underserved by the current health care system, will require an unprecedented effort. In light of the current and future need for workers to help contain the pandemic, Dartmouth should consider giving a half-course credit to students who serve in such roles.
In the recent student elections, only seven out of 25 races had competing candidates on the ballot. Eighteen races were uncontested, and five seats had only write-in options. Dartmouth’s student elections are defined by a lack of competition, leaving voters without real choice. To ensure accountability, ballots should include a “none of the above” option — and if this option gets a majority of the votes, the seat shouldn't be filled.