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On Wednesday nights, there is a social twilight when Dartmouth's male and female spheres are poised for convergence as meetings come to a close. This convergence takes place, by and large, in fraternities. The first girls who peek into the basement are priceless: their eyes betraying that honed split-second analysis of familiar faces, availability of drinks and whether everybody present has his shirt on.
News organizations struggle to capture our feeble attentions when yet another suicide attack occurs in Iraq. Let me take you back to a particularly horrific moment in the science of terror to refresh your emotions. On Aug. 31, 2005, as one million Shia Muslims passed over Baghdad's Al-Aaimmah bridge, someone pointed to a man claiming he had explosives strapped to him. The ensuing stampede claimed nearly 1,000 lives as pilgrims were trampled, their blood spattered on the pavement, and as a section of railing collapsed, sending hordes 90 feet into the Tigris to drown. When the costs and benefits to the cause of terrorism are weighed, we must gruesomely assess it as an exceptionally inspired attack. So what makes human beings use their profound intelligence, such lucid analysis, to do such evil?
"This is not Camp Dartmouth and this is the last lecture you'll receive from me," began my introduction to Meir Kohn, the feared grand-master of Economics 26, the introductory finance course at Dartmouth and possibly the best one of my academic career.
Is race funny? If you said no, then you have a lot of thinking to do. Many of comedy's greatest moments owe their humor to the social divides of our past. Where would the current Saturday Night Live skit of note, "Dick in a Box," be if it weren't funny to see two white kids act like womanizing R&B artists? What if the kids from "Animal House" had walked into the black bar, Otis Day giving the evil eye, and not felt a potent alienation? What if Dave Chappelle stopped making fun of white people with such deadly accuracy?
Religion has a burden to bear these days. Everyone from Zach Hyatt '09 ("The World, Weighed and Measured," Oct. 12) to Elton John to Sam Harris asks, "Is God worth it?" "Religion" is fingered as the root cause of three destructive forces: Islamic terrorism, bungled American foreign policy, and an exclusive vision of social morality. Islamic radicals threaten the world's social fabric; the Evangelicals lent spiritual legitimacy to short-sighted American military responses. They want gays to cast out the causal demons within them. Given this susceptibility to irrationally violent interpretations of its own objectives, the arguments call into question the whole religious sphere of life.
The Djemaa el-Fna, the great square of Marrakesh, is home to some of the strangest sights, sounds and smells in the world. Sheep's brain, a henna-camel-dung blend marketed as hashish, and the healing powers of dried animal parts are all up for sale.
When I first arrived in Morocco three weeks ago, I was like a very self-aware bull in a china shop. In light of this, both my travel buddy and I pored through the "cultural hints" sections of our guidebooks far more than we would have if we were traveling to Italy or England. We were rigidly cautious in our interactions with women and with men displaying more traditional dress to insure we did not commit any acts of blatant cultural insensitivity.
As a freshman last year, I joined my peers in placing great significance on whom we should elect as our Student Assembly president. What great catastrophes or summits awaited a choice of Davies, Hildreth or Baehr? At the urging of an editorial by President Emeritus Janos Marton '04, I cast my vote behind Julia Hildreth '05. Marton's opinion that there were great things to be done which he had, in many ways, failed to do seemed to legitimize his charge that Hildreth could actually see these tasks to their completion. I was not concerned with what these things were, just that I was willing to give Hildreth a shot at proving that the Assembly had great works within its capacity. The reality of the last year has been informative.
The United States has for more than half a century reaped the benefits and suffered the consequences of being the world's dominant player, peacemaker, and country-tinkerer, and thus the premier symbol of Western power.
Julia Bernstein makes a mountain out of a mole-hill in her op-ed "Condi, Who Are You Wearing?" (Mar. 1). As much as it was written tongue-in-cheek, she makes statements that are inaccurate and her conclusions merit scrutiny. Her article is part misplaced feminism, part fashionista, and part doesn't-know-what-she-wants-to-talk-about.
At 2:30 a.m. last Saturday night I was on the first floor of a fraternity, working my neck muscles in time with the music of, to quote one enthusiast, this "totally sweet band that just played in this sweet club in New York which is kind of a big deal." As said muscles trudged their way to their present lactic-acid-induced paralysis, I decided to take a breather and head downstairs. While I am too boring to have an epiphany, something more humble, almost like an idea, took hold of me. I pushed past my own developed allegiances and attachments and realized that, without exception, College fraternity aesthetics were appalling. Fraternities themselves and the College's own policies perpetuate and hinder fraternities from achieving a degree of civility.
As elucidated in Monday's edition of The Dartmouth ("D-Plan solves some problems, causes other dilemmas," Jan. 31), the D-Plan and namely its keystone, sophomore summer, has always been hard to swallow for anyone gearing up for four years at Dartmouth. No matter how much we age, some part of us is very stingy when it comes to summer vacations: one of the final bastions of fading youth. While our initial grounding in the D-Plan's apparently far-sighted and visionary approach to schooling was swallowed down for the simple fact that we had no experience with it and thus no counter-argument, learning of the historical reasons for its development make that visionary approach burn in the stomach lining which so naively accepted it. I could dwell on whether this "vision" just happened to strike the college's administrators at the moment when they didn't want to cut the check on housing for that 800-student increase in 1970s, but I think that we, as Dartmouth students, are able to read in between these very clear lines. The D-Plan was created out of necessity and not because the then-administrators decided that a summer at school and the ensuing implications was truly a better system.
While shopping for classes at the beginning of this term, I found myself sitting in on the first meeting of Professor Clarence Hardy's Religion and Society in America class. He won the hearts and minds of his students with his eloquent turns-of-phrase delivered in a gravelly baritone, making it clear that he was the clear-headed captain needed to navigate the murky waters of American religion.