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Thus far, winter term has been characterized by unprecedented levels of COVID-19 transmission — with 993 new cases in just the last seven days — as well as a return to some social restrictions and a commitment to in-person instruction. While in-person classes resumed in a limited capacity in the summer and fully resumed in the fall, their continuation despite the spread of the omicron variant is a notable and welcome deviation from previous policy. This Editorial Board commends both the College’s commitment to in-person instruction as well as their clear and continuous communication of any and all changes that are made to COVID-19 policy, but firmly recommends additional investment in hybrid class models for those in isolation.
On Dec. 17, interim provost David Kotz and executive vice president Rick Mills announced several new additions to Dartmouth’s COVID-19 policies, which will now include a booster shot requirement for all community members as well as a ban on “social gatherings” and a shift to grab-and-go dining for the first two weeks of winter term. This move comes as multiple peer institutions, including Harvard University, Stanford University and Yale University, have decided to delay the start of in-person classes.
One week ago, interim athletics director Peter Roby ’79 announced that, due to a lack of compliance with masking rules as well as “inappropriate behavior” by students when asked to mask by gym staff, students would be barred from Alumni Gymnasium for two days — Monday and Tuesday of this week. This closure — the second this term, after an earlier one-day shutdown in October — is demonstrably unjust, a collective punishment that negatively impacts both the physical and mental well-being of the student body. Yet the student behaviors described in Roby’s email — which have been observed at other places throughout this campus, including in the dining hall and classrooms — also have no place on this campus. Simply put, both sides have a part to play in reducing the current tension: the College, for its part, must stop foisting unjust collective punishments on students and commit itself to more coherent and rational pandemic policies, while students must take the simple step of treating the College employees who do so much for this community with the respect they deserve.
Since 1996, Julia Griffin has served at the helm of Hanover local government, in her role as town manager overseeing day-to-day operations and the town’s almost 30 departments. Now, 25 years later, her long career in public service will come to a close: Late last week, Griffin announced her plans to step down from the role following the annual town meeting in spring 2022.
On Oct. 11, WMUR broke the news that the Dartmouth College Republicans would be inviting first-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a 26-year-old Republican from North Carolina, to sit on a panel titled “The Future of the Republican Party” on Oct. 24, this Sunday. Cawthorn will attend alongside NH-1 congressional candidate and former Trump administration assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt and former Trump campaign strategist Alex Bruesewitz.
Last Friday, in a campus-wide email, Interim Dean of the College Scott Brown announced the discovery of significant mold growth in the Andres and Zimmerman residence halls, informing the community that students with a “health sensitivity” to mold had been given the option to relocate to temporary housing, first in the Boss Tennis Center and, starting Sunday, in a “limited number of hotel rooms in the area.” The email also noted that mold “remediation” efforts, which include the vacuuming of interior surfaces of each HVAC unit with a high-efficiency particulate vacuum and the installation of additional filtration, have already begun in Andres and Zimmerman and that additional inspections will occur in other residential buildings throughout the next few weeks. In addition, the College announced that, moving forward, it will expand its mold protocols to include regular checks of air handling units in all Dartmouth buildings.
This editorial is featured in the 2021 Homecoming special issue.
Last Thursday, an article published in The Dartmouth reported that the Class of 2025, with a class size of 1,229 students, is the largest in Dartmouth’s history. This revelation comes only four years after the previous record-holder for the largest class, the Class of 2021, matriculated, and is only the second time in Dartmouth’s history that the number of newly enrolled students has surpassed 1,200.
’53 Commons lines extending to Parkhurst. Courtyard Cafe lines snaking to Hinman. Crowds of students squeezing past each other to get to dining stations.
For the first time in nearly eighteen months, Dartmouth has welcomed a majority of its undergraduate students back to campus and into classrooms. Many returning students have embraced this development as a welcome return to the Dartmouth of pre-pandemic times. Yet, for many others, this development represents a clear divergence from the Dartmouth experience they have had thus far. In-person classes, non-socially distanced dining halls and open-to-campus events hosted by Greek houses are entirely foreign to many students. For them, the Dartmouth experience they are familiar with is not the one they have encountered upon returning for the fall term.
Last Thursday, the Dartmouth community received word of the death of Elizabeth Reimer ’24. Her death — the fourth of an undergraduate student this academic year, and the third of a first-year student — has only deepened the grief within a community that had already been mourning the losses of three peers. Though now is the time to grieve, change must soon follow. For far too long, student calls for increased mental health resources and changes in policy have been met by woefully inadequate responses from the College, even as the pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis on campus and made these cries for help all the more urgent. Dartmouth must repair its dilapidated mental health infrastructure or risk further tragedies.
This column is featured in the 2021 Spring special issue.
The Geisel School of Medicine made national headlines last Sunday when the New York Times reported on the medical school’s cheating allegations against seventeen of its students. The Dartmouth has followed up with our own reporting today, shedding light on the worrying conditions at the north end of campus.
In a May 5 campus-wide email, College President Phil Hanlon announced that due to the increasing vaccination rate and the declining COVID-19 incidence rate nationwide, the College will allow graduates to bring up to two guests to graduation. This announcement embraces suggestions made by students following the initial decision to hold Commencement for families virtually and is a promising sign of an impending return to normalcy on campus — something this Editorial Board has argued is overdue. However, while the College should be commended for revising its decision, for many low-income students and their families the eleventh-hour nature of the decision erects significant financial and logistical hurdles and comes as too little, too late.
Sophomore summer has long been a quintessential Dartmouth experience — a College tradition treasured by generations of students that offers the chance to bond with classmates, enjoy lazy days on the Connecticut, and share the whole experience with loved ones on family weekend. Less appreciated than these traditions, it goes without saying, are the academic opportunities — or lack thereof — offered over the summer. This should come as no surprise — one of the worst-kept secrets about sophomore summer is the term's shockingly limited class selection.
Each year, at the outset of Dartmouth’s Student Assembly election period, the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee publishes its annual election code. In recent elections, this rulebook — which outlines the regulations by which candidates’ campaigns and their supporters must abide — has grown increasingly complex and draconian, expanding into spheres of students’ social lives that a student-run committee should have no business occupying. This year and last, in the name of “ensur[ing] equality, equity, fairness between all candidates” after the pandemic forced campaign activities online, EPAC has only tightened its already stringent rules. Many of these more recently imposed regulations — as well as many of those already in place — are decidedly undemocratic and stand in direct conflict with the committee’s mission statement that EPAC exists to facilitate “open and fair” student elections.
Last week, Dartmouth announced its admissions decisions for the Class of 2025, and every high schooler admitted in this historically competitive year deserves a hearty congratulations. As students across the world consider where they will spend their next four years, the admissions office is no doubt already casting an eye toward prospective members of the Class of 2026. As it does so, Dartmouth should adopt lessons learned from this year’s strange cycle.
For many Dartmouth students, the promise of becoming fully vaccinated in the near future lies within reach, but the hope of returning to normal life still does not. While the College has in the last week begun the process of easing some social distancing restrictions for vaccinated students, it has made no mention of loosening facility access restrictions either for fully or partially vaccinated students or for those who have previously contracted COVID-19. This should change: Dartmouth should extend limited on-campus access to some facilities to all students who are fully vaccinated, who have acquired immunity through previous infection with COVID-19 or who have received their first dose at least two weeks ago.
Spring has sprung at Dartmouth, bringing with it not only warmer weather but also the hope of an impending return to relative normalcy. Americans across the country are being rapidly vaccinated against COVID-19, and with New Hampshire’s expansion of vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16 as of today, Dartmouth students are hopeful that we, too, may soon get the jab.
After a term of low COVID-19 case numbers and relatively loose restrictions, Dartmouth’s bubble abruptly burst last week with the emergence of its first major COVID-19 outbreak. As of Thursday, Dartmouth’s total active student COVID-19 case count sits at 143 — roughly 4% of undergraduates living on campus and locally off campus. Students, who just weeks ago were ice skating on the Green and eating indoors at Collis, have now been forced back to the confines of their rooms.