This article is featured in the 2022 Freshman special issue.
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The Student Worker Collective at Dartmouth has — after three grueling months of organizing — secured the support of a supermajority of the student workers of Dartmouth Dining Services, a turning point in our work to create a union of student workers. On Jan. 5, the SWCD sent an open letter to the administration and requested a response by Jan. 17. We now await a reply that, ideally, will consist of the College’s acceptance of our demands, including voluntary recognition of our union through a card check agreement and quarantine pay for DDS student workers in COVID-19 isolation. If the College truly cares about its DDS student workers, especially amid the dramatic rise in cases on campus, it must agree to the SWCD’s demands to ensure the safety and livelihood of DDS student workers.
“This too shall pass.” So seems to be the logic of the institution: if you leave students in a constant state of limbo, they will forget what has already passed. But students see this and resist: calling on College President Phil Hanlon to resign, demanding compassionate mental health policies and stressing the need for an expansion of the housing supply. And as some students have noted in these opinion pages, this problem goes far, far deeper than the surface relief that changes in both administrative policies and personnel can provide. These problems are rooted in the historical, callous indifference of the College and the institution itself — its austere policies and the choices it makes — or refuses to make.
The global COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement continue to rage on throughout the country. The government’s reactions to both have unsurprisingly and consistently failed to protect its marginalized constituents. The U.S. is reaching record-breaking rates of infections and deaths as the failures of the government’s public health measures, or lack thereof, become apparent. Alongside this health tragedy, anti-racist protestors are facing violence and imprisonment at the hands of armed government forces.
Panic over COVID-19 has incited racist responses by some Dartmouth students, but anti-East Asian sentiment on campus is nothing new.
“Okja, Snowpiercer, Parasite, they’re all stories about capitalism,” said acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon-ho of his films. “Before it’s a massive, sociological term, capitalism is just our lives.”
Hate speech and outright discrimination have previously existed in various spheres of discussion, but have only been exacerbated in recent years. Ideas of dehumanization and destruction are at odds with those of healthy governance. Salil Shetty, the secretary general of Amnesty International, said that “too many politicians are answering legitimate economic and security fears with a poisonous and divisive manipulation of identity politics in an attempt to win votes.” This “poison” seeps down and legitimizes hatred within everyday life. Politicians and those from whom they derive their power — all of us — must condemn this sort of speech for the sake of equality and justice. We fail as a people if we stand idly by.