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An unhappy electorate is a dangerous electorate — at least for establishment candidates. The Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary was won by two anti-establishment candidates — real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump and the democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders left New Hampshire with the most votes ever in the state’s primary, beating previous record holder, Sen. John McCain, and besting Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 22 points. How is it in a state that gives President Barack Obama a 90 percent approval rating, a state with the lowest poverty and murders rates, where unemployment is hovering around 3.1 percent, two political outsiders walked away with such big wins? I can’t speak for the thousands of voters that turned out, but I can speak for myself and why I voted for Bernie.
The fiery rhetoric of Bernie Sanders has set ablaze the hearts of young voters across the country. The Vermont senator’s strategy of late has been to target the current campaign finance system, a product of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which affirms the rights of non-profits to spend on candidates’ behalf. Sanders points to current campaign finance structures as the cause of the majority of our nation’s ills. Sanders argues that if elected officials were not so focused on fundraising, they would be far better legislators. He wants to revolutionize our political system, eliminating the ability of big banks, Wall Street and Super PACs to “buy” candidates and elections. While this may be the best vision for our country, realistically, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon, even if Sanders were to be elected.
When Donald J. Trump announced that he would be running for president in June, I thought, “Well, this should be amusing.” I figured he’d join the rest of the anti-tax, anti-abortion, anti-regulatory, anti-immigration and other anti efforts in the run to the extreme right. In a presidential field that began with more than a dozen hopefuls, distinguishing one’s self has been paramount. Trump has done just that. Garnering support from conservatives, he has enjoyed a consistent lead over the other GOP candidates. This support is concerning.
Welcome to Dartmouth ’19s! The College is by far the greatest experience of my life thus far. Being a few years older than the average student (I took a few gap years in the army before coming here), I am lucky to have a few unique perspectives about this place. Even with my age and experience, however, navigating Dartmouth in my first year proved to be quite the challenge. Now in my senior year, I have been looking back on the choices I made in my first three years, and I know now that I could have benefited from someone giving me some straightforward advice. With that, here are a few tips for making the most of your freshman years.
Dartmouth is the most rewarding place I have ever been — and yet, also the strangest. I have met some of most brilliant minds and some of those same minds have been just as ignorant as they are intelligent. I do not mean to insult them, and I am not assigning blame. What I am getting at is that because the Ivy League has gone need-blind, there is now a significant mixing of class and culture on these campuses. This is by no means a bad development, but I think it is time that we explore some perspective on the experience of a poor student at Dartmouth.
On April 28, I began to realize something terrible — so many of us are completely out of touch with some of the horrors in our own country. The pivotal moment came in part because of my 10A, “The Wire,” an English course that examines the Baltimore-based television crime drama of the same name. Because of this class, I’ve been thinking a lot about the unrest in Baltimore. I asked a professor their thoughts on the remarks David Simon (the show’s creator) made about the prior’s day unrest in Baltimore, in which he criticized anger of demonstrators, saying, “If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please.” To my surprise, the professor responded by asking what was happening. That was when I began thinking about how much of the situation has been ignored, distorted and misinterpreted — particularly by the mainstream media.
The past three years have seen a great deal of commotion concerning the nature of student life, particularly in regard to the role of Greek organizations and the issue of exclusivity. I cannot help but believe that a large portion of the grievances are borne from those who, for whatever reason, feel they have been shunned by those who are already members of certain groups. Feeling as though they do not and can not fit in at the College, some have taken to protests, demonstrations and making demands of administrators, such as those outlined in 2014’s “Freedom Budget.”
Before I begin, I want to state that I did not seek or receive opinions from any affiliate of the Dartmouth baseball team. These opinions are my own, formed through research and observation of the team’s performance.
On the first day of this term, I found myself in a seminar taught by government professor Jeffrey Friedman, entitled “Lessons from America’s Foreign Wars.” I sat beside Air Force veteran Matthew Brandon ’16 and a retired U.S. State Department official who is auditing the class. After the obligatory introductions, Friedman — who specializes in foreign policy and civil conflict — asked Brandon why he thinks American troops have a history of difficulty conducting counterinsurgency operations after many lessons from the Vietnam War and over a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Greek system has become one of the biggest issues on Dartmouth’s campus. Whether a student is affiliated or unaffiliated, activist or ambivalent, the discussion is next to impossible to escape. The week prior to Homecoming, the paper’s editorial board invited those on campus to submit their takes on the system that defines social life at the College. Their survey was answered with opinions from across all corners of the student body. This helped create the 36-page Homecoming issue, an admirable undertaking that included many diverse voices from our community — and it was completely overshadowed by the editorial board’s hijacking of the paper with its approximately 1,100-word Verbum Ultimum.
Since the beginning of term, listening to conversations from members of the Greek system has left me with one impression: affiliated students are genuinely concerned that their organizations will be eliminated. So far, the Interfraternity Council has officially eliminated “pledge term” — all persons who shook out and are granted bids are now immediately considered full-fledged members. House leaders are stepping up their game to maintain the teeming social scene that keeps so many students occupied in the middle of nowhere. In reality, the Greek system is one of the things that has made Dartmouth’s location more enjoyable. Perhaps Greek life has dominated social life at the College thanks to its remoteness, and in turn, has created a culture that is dependent on tails, pong and sweaty dance parties in sticky basements. The houses have become apparatuses for consistent togetherness, and now they might be on the verge of extinction. But despite the need for reform, ridding the College of the Greek system entirely would also rid it of a key mechanism for change.
What has more value, an American life or an Iraqi life? Would you prefer to see more Americans die in order to see fewer Iraqis slain, or would you rather see our troops come home and let Iraq deal with its own issues?
Recently, five incoming student-veterans visited Dartmouth, met current student-veterans and explored the campus. Over Murphy’s, we discussed life at Dartmouth from inside classrooms to down in fraternity basements. From start to finish, we all agreed that, while it is not perfect, Dartmouth has been a great home to veterans.
Proponents of the “Freedom Budget” proposal have demanded that the College increase representation of various ethnicities and races to 10 percent in order to increase diversity here at Dartmouth. Yet Dartmouth cannot simply make efforts with respect to race or ethnicity without also addressing socioeconomic status. Affirmative action has become a controversial term in America, and setting up racial quotas is highly problematic. Instead, Dartmouth should attempt to diversify its community through recruitment efforts that seek out exceptional students in low-income communities.
In Monday’s “Great Debate,” Aaron Colston ’14 and Becca Rothfeld ’14 focused on exclusivity in their arguments to abolish the Greek system. They argued that houses maintained exclusivity for the sake of exclusivity alone, and that there was no benefit in alienating people from their spaces. In reality, exclusivity and selectivity have their benefits. Moreover, exclusivity at Dartmouth is in no way limited to the Greek system, and singling out this one exclusive aspect of our culture is an inaccurate representation of reality.
Recently, I was sitting with a group of friends, all of whom I respect and admire, and we were talking about how to prevent sexual assault around campus. They expressed passion and concern about these issues, but when we brought up intervention, I made a startling discovery. I found that the problem goes deeper than the existence of bad people who simply want to do harm. There are many people at Dartmouth — my friends included — who just don’t understand how or when to intervene. A friend and I had to explain the complicated relationship between drugs, sexual assault and bystanders. No matter how drunk an individual is they are still accountable for their actions, even if those actions include sexual assault. If houses had more Dartmouth Bystander Initiative-trained members, those individuals could educate members of houses, not as outsiders, but as friends, brothers and sisters. Further, if students underwent Mentors Against Violence facilitations earlier, destructive attitudes would be less likely to become entrenched in their minds.