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Over the last two weeks, as I’ve logged on to Zoom to watch some of my closest friends wrap up their Dartmouth careers with thesis presentations (and one sweet radio play), my brain has had ample opportunity to play evil comparison games. I often feel like I didn’t get the things out of my Dartmouth career that I wanted going into it, and it’s hard for me to remind myself to treasure what I did get out of the past four years. But when I truly take the time to give myself credit where credit is due, I’m able to notice that for each bullet point I missed, I gained my own experience of friendship, care and perseverance.
If the New Hampshire election results hold at the time I’m writing this column, this newspaper will likely be announcing a victory for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary — or at least a very good finish. With what has been described as a functional home-state advantage, Sanders won the 2016 New Hampshire primary against Hillary Clinton by a whopping 22 points. His closest competitor in the polls here this year is former South Bend, IN mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is benefitting from unease in the moderate segment of the party after former vice president Joe Biden’s weak showing in the Iowa caucuses. Biden is still polling just two points behind Sanders nationally, but New Hampshire and Iowa have clearly demonstrated that moderate voters are far more inclined to vote strategically and switch their vote in order to get a candidate that they agree with in office. But are these self-proclaimed pragmatists really playing the game with a winning strategy?
This fall, the Dartmouth football team captured yet another Ivy League championship. The Big Green’s 9-1 run included a Hail Mary against Harvard University that even the least enthusiastic fan could appreciate and a historic matchup against Princeton University at Yankee Stadium. But while the football team plays a widespread, well-known activity, not all of the other 34 varsity sports and extracurriculars offered at Dartmouth are as universally accessible as football.
When I arrived on campus in the fall of 2016, I became the first student — to my knowledge — from Nevada Union High School to ever attend Dartmouth College. Even if I wasn’t the first, I may as well have been. The comfort and security I knew from growing up in a small town where the kids I graduated high school with had known me for a majority of my years vanished the instance I accepted my offer of admission. The ’20s I had been fortunate enough to know prior to our arrival — namely, two boys I had become friends with at debate camp in high school — provided me with the perfect opportunity to latch onto the safety of familiarity. What I did not realize, however, was that there was a categorical difference between the familiarity I was developing with new people at Dartmouth and that which I had treasured at home.
Last Friday, actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced for her role in the college admissions scandal uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues. Huffman confessed to paying $15,000 for an SAT proctor to change her daughter’s incorrect answers before her test was submitted a pretty obvious case of education fraud.
On Aug. 7, federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents conducted raids in Mississippi targeting immigrants working in food-processing factories across the state. Around 680 immigrant workers were detained by the more than 600 ICE agents in the largest single-state coordinated sting operation in U.S. history.
On Monday, April 15, people around the world watched as emergency responders struggled to halt the flames tearing apart the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Notre-Dame fire was likely caused by accident. However, in the same month that the cathedral burned, cultural and religious institutions around the world experienced very deliberate attacks. Consider church burnings in Louisiana or the recent terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. The damage to Notre Dame is no doubt a tragedy. But the present destruction of spaces of communal worship reflects a larger and far more concerning pattern throughout history regarding the circumstances that enable some sites to survive and not others.
On March 22, special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on the two-year long investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Many Democrats have spent the previous two years on the edge of their seats, hoping Mueller’s report would allege that the Donald Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Two days after Mueller submitted his report, attorney general William Barr submitted a four-page summary of the report to Congress — a decision that many Democrats decried as indicative of a lack of transparency and oversight. Given Barr’s public skepticism of the investigation, Democrats aren’t wrong to question whether Barr held back details that could have hurt the President’s standing. But even if Democrats have grounds to pursue a full release of the report, they dwell on the issue at their own peril.
At the end of the winter term, 2019 Trips Director Madeleine Waters wrote an excellent piece detailing the upsides and shortcomings of this potentially magical yet simultaneously alienating orientation program. The crucial question she asks is this: “What can an orientation program accomplish if its job is to welcome people into spaces where they do not see lasting evidence that they are welcome?” While I have never been a Trip leader and periodically regret that decision, a number of friends who have joined found themselves frustrated and disillusioned — a stark contrast with the optimism expressed by many in charge of the program. For these students, the presentation of a convivial, homogenous community at the beginning of their Dartmouth experiences was not representative of their time spent navigating campus.
A longstanding debate in philosophies of law goes something like this: We place power in our legislatures to create and enact laws, and in our courts to apply those laws to cases before them. When courts encounter a case that does not fall clearly inside or outside of existing laws, do they still have the authority to decide what the just result is, and what the scope of their discretion is in deciding that justice? Either way, the court must make a decision about the interpretation of the law — choosing to follow the explicit letter of the statute for the sake of precision still allows a judge to decide what is within the scope of the law and what is not. This means that regardless of what decision is made, it will be a verdict on whether the facts of the case fall within the bounds of one law and not another. Midway through readings for class on this very debate, my phone alerted me of a case that exemplifies this concept and the importance of navigating it carefully and thoughtfully: the commutation of Cyntoia Brown by the governor of Tennessee.
As a brother of Bones Gate fraternity, I don’t make a habit of talking to the press, but we all make exceptions sometimes. And the rush process is one such exception. It plays a crucial role in determining which individuals on this campus will be endowed with the abilities and resources to facilitate major social spaces at Dartmouth. Granted, across campus there is a mixture of rushees who have had varying opportunities to acquaint themselves with the full body of the house they are joining. But regardless of whether they enter a house after terms of building credentials and connections or if they come with none at all, rushing a house gives every member the privileges of affiliation — and it is the scope of those privileges that I would like to address.