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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.
On Feb. 16, the College abruptly announced its decision to close the Kresge Physical Sciences Library and the Paddock Music Library. According to a widely shared open letter by music department chair William Cheng, not a single music professor was consulted, or even alerted, before the administration eliminated the department’s library.
Last month, The New York Times reported that Leon Black ’73, prominent College donor and billionaire chairman of Apollo Global Management, had paid convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein $158 million between 2012 and 2017, years after Epstein pled guilty to prostitution involving a teenager in 2008. These findings cast a dark shadow over Black’s legacy — a legacy with a high degree of visibility on Dartmouth’s campus.
This editorial is featured in the 2021 Winter Carnival special issue.
Last Friday, College President Phil Hanlon unexpectedly announced that the five varsity athletic teams cut last summer — men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's golf and men's lightweight rowing — had been reinstated. In his email, Hanlon attributed the change to the discovery that “elements of the data that athletics used to confirm continued Title IX compliance may not have been complete.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, many cherished aspects of the Dartmouth experience have remained on hold. One familiar feature of Dartmouth life, however, has not been sorely missed: the physical education requirement. Often derided as a waste of time at best and a hidden fee at worst, the PE requirement is most notable for bogging down students with mandatory — and often expensive — checkbox-filling activities. Eliminating the PE graduation requirement for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 was a necessary move given the pandemic, but it’s time to go further. The College should permanently do away with the PE requirement.
From Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, onward, many Dartmouth alumni have gone on to serve in prominent public service roles. Alex Azar '88, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration, is certainly one of them. But prominence and power do not mean admirability; Azar stepped down from his post earlier this week with the entrance of the Biden administration, ending four years of controversial health care policy.
Just over a week ago, the U.S. experienced a national catastrophe. The Trump-incited siege on the Capitol, which used violence in an attempt to overturn a democratic election, was a galling attack on the heart of American democracy.
Though winter term has begun, most students still dialed into their Zoom classes while scattered far from Hanover. The reason? On Dec. 7, the College announced that it had chosen to delay move-in from Jan. 5 and 6 to Jan. 16 and 17 in order to mitigate the consequences of a post-holiday surge in COVID-19. This late decision — announced just a month before students were due to return, and nearly a month after the College gave students their original move-in dates — has created financial and academic difficulties for students forced to abruptly change their plans.
This term has been a bleak one. Students arriving in Hanover faced a 14-day quarantine in their rooms, almost all classes have been conducted online and the College has strictly regulated all face-to-face social interaction. In the face of rising COVID-19 cases nationwide, the College has taken and will continue to take many precautions. But now, after a term’s worth of experience, the College must take a step back and consider those areas in which it can improve students’ experience for the winter.
It’s not over yet — but the results to date indicate that former Vice President Joe Biden has a clear path to being elected the next president of the United States. The election so far has not seen the overwhelming repudiation Democrats had hoped for. And for many, the continued widespread support for President Donald Trump — even after four years of hate-filled governance — is a slap in the face. But now is not the time to lament the unexpected or curse those who voted for a second term of Trump. Instead, it is up to us — as part of a driven, young generation newly instilled with a drive to make change — to carry forward the momentum behind the 2020 election in pursuit of meaningful progress in America.
Updated Oct. 30, 2020 at 1 p.m.
If you’ve followed the news on campus this term, you’ll know that the Dartmouth administration has enacted a strict set of COVID-19 policies, violations of which have led to the College removing an unknown number of undergraduate students from campus this fall. The administration has justified its approach on public health grounds. It appears, however, that the College has been rolling out policies amid a growing and glaring double standard: COVID-19 regulations for graduate students are dramatically less restrictive than those for undergraduates.
As part of Dartmouth’s reopening plan, the College made clear that it would have little tolerance for violations of its COVID-19 “Community Expectations.” Dean of the College Kathryn Lively warned in August that students who engaged in behavior that violated the agreement would immediately “lose the privilege of campus enrollment” for the rest of the year.
Over six months have passed since Dartmouth shifted to Zoom world. The free and simple video-conferencing platform has been a lifesaver, used for class, meetings, video calls, events, interviews — just about every human interaction that once happened on campus. But as we become ever-more acquainted with Zoom, this new fixture of College life deserves closer scrutiny.
The COVID-19 pandemic coincides with one of the most contentious — and critical — elections in modern American history. With America still in the grips of the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions, much of this year’s vote will take place by mail. For many Dartmouth students, kept away from campus by the College’s COVID-19 measures, voting by mail will be their only way to have a say in the political future of the place where, in more usual times, they live, study, work and base their lives.
After an extended absence, Dartmouth students have returned to Hanover. Thousands will now, once again, be able to experience a form of campus life — something considered unattainable mere months ago. The success of this operation in the face of COVID-19 has largely been a result of the dedication and efforts of both the College administration and town in creating a feasible, actionable reopening plan, and the student body for holding up its end of the bargain. For this, both parties should be commended.