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Believe it or not, it is already week two. We trudged through a snowstorm for April Fools’ Day, forced our livers back into full gear over the weekend and wound up again with dark circles underneath our eyes again. Things are starting to get serious – as we finally settle into our classes, we now have to catch up on our readings, pay attention to our professors and start working for the midterms and assignments coming up. This stressful consciousness of our impending workload could not be more different from the cushy, carefree first week most of us experienced as we “shopped” for classes but didn’t necessarily do work for them.
Over the last century, we have seen a blossoming expansion of human rights across race, age, class, sexuality and gender. Once upon a time, three-fourths of all people were enslaved, but human slavery is now illegal in every country in the world. In his tour de force “The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” Steven Pinker documents in painstaking detail how the murder rate has fallen since the Middle Ages by almost 95 percent, how child abuse has halved since the 1990s and how the rate at which animals are harmed during the production of movies has fallen by 90 percent since the animal rights revolution in the 1970s.
My spring breaks are notoriously uneventful, mainly due to my own lack of energy and creativity when it comes to planning cheap, fun and short outings. However, after many days of laying in bed, I was lucky enough to have friends that got tickets for the recently revived Broadway show, “Miss Saigon.”
People in America care — or profess to care — about freedom and personal liberty, perhaps more than any other group of people in recorded history. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution, the fundamental document from which each statute and protection in American law stems and whose tenets it must not violate, putatively exists to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Political and patriotic rhetoric, generally purporting to speak for “true” Americans and “true” America, centers on the freedoms that Make Us Special. United States foreign policy from George F. Kennan to Donald Rumsfeld has held the liberation of oppressed places and people from the chains of tyranny into the warm embrace of capitalism and democracy as its guiding ideal.
Before spending the winter term in Paris, everyone I had spoken to who had gone on a study abroad program had sworn by the life-changing wisdom and experience they had gained. I did not believe them. I knew that, just like most statements by Dartmouth students, those opinions were hyperbolized, omitting the negatives while exaggerating the positives, creating the illusion of satisfaction or happiness despite what exists beneath the surface. I would not say that I was right, but I was not wrong either.
Note to readers (April 6, 2017): When The Dartmouth learned that guest columnist Mary Sieredzinski ’17’s article was identical in places to those published in several other college newspapers that originated with publicity officials at Teach for America, we decided to remove it from our website.
Throughout the 2016 election cycle, President Donald Trump’s claim that the election would be “rigged” was dismissed by political commentators and elected officials as fanciful and improbable. However, examining the impact of stripped voter protections, it’s clear that the election was, in fact, rigged. The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder seriously weakened the Voting Rights Act before Americans went to the polls on Nov. 8, which disproportionately targeted and disenfranchised lower-income Americans and people of color — communities that are statistically more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Looking at these restrictions, we can see that the political battles regarding voting rights have serious implications for Dartmouth students.
I don’t know how to bike. You read that correctly — a Director of Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips is not totally sure how to make that two-wheeled monster called a “bicycle” move from point A to point B. My first hike longer than a mile came on the last day of my own first-year trips, which was exceptionally average — until that hike.
On Sept. 11, 2001, two jets originating from Logan International Airport in Boston flew into the World Trade Center towers. Though many initially believed the first crash was accidental, these were confirmed to be terrorist attacks when the second plane flew into the South Tower 17 minutes later. Within the next two hours, two more planes were hijacked by members of al-Qaeda — one struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and the other, allegedly targeting the White House or the U.S. Capitol, crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to combat the hijackers. The four attacks were carried out by 19 terrorists.
In May 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party won the Indian national election, the largest election in human history. The BJP is tied to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the radical Hindu nationalist group to which Mohandas Gandhi’s assassin belonged. It became the leading party of the largest and most diverse democracy in the world, winning 51.9 percent of all seats in India’s lower house, the biggest victory since the Congress party, the initiators of of Indian independence, won in 1984. A BJP win in the recent regional elections in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab will vastly increase the party’s chances of winning the 2019 national elections and be crucial in defining the political landscape in India for years to come.
I will be graduating from Dartmouth this spring with an identity as a dancer that has greatly shaped my college experience. I have directed Street Soul and danced with ShebaLite during summer 2015. These are also my personal opinions, and I am choosing not to represent Street Soul through my statements.
On Feb. 24, Chinese photographer Ren Hang died. Known for his minimalistic portraits which often combined human subjects with animals and various inanimate objects placed unexpectedly, Hang often highlighted the borderland between erotic and artistic, leading him to shoot photos for fashion brands like Maison Kitsune and face censorship in China. His photograph “We’ve Got Eyes Everywhere” for Milk Studios, for example, features a black-haired woman donning red lipstick and holding a peacock which partially covers her face. Despite the polarizing nature of his work, Hang denied that his work had a political message, sometimes claiming it had no meaning at all.
A junior at Yale University named Cole Aronson wrote a column on Feb. 27 in which he argued that “sports have nothing to do with the mission of a college as I see it.”
I have been a conservative since I formed my political views and values early in my secondary school years. To be clear, the word conservatism is defined as the “disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change.” Admittedly, there are a variety of unrestrictive factions within and interpretations of political conservatism, just as there are of any theory or ideology. These include, but are not limited to, Christian conservatism, paleoconservatism, neoconservatism, libertarian conservatism and moderate conservatism. Personally, my beliefs and values overlap among these groups, aligning with a strong conservative social and fiscal vision while aligning with neoconservatives on foreign policy issues.
I’ve only recently found my personal style. After I moved to the United States from a country where it’s summer all year round, I had to completely recalibrate what it means to dress myself. But the process of starting my wardrobe afresh taught me many lessons, including knowing what looks good on my body.
Gang signs are not cute.
I was only 3 years old that day. I was at home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, watching cartoons. An abrupt, loud, repeating noise silenced my show with letters racing across the screen. It said “Emergency” in bold red colors. The screen switched to a news announcement of some sort. That was the first glimpse I had of the twin towers, black smoke covering the tips of the screen. Being an innocent 3 year old, I assumed it was part of the program. At the time, I only knew that Sept. 11 was supposed to be a happy day, but my mother’s birthday had to take the back seat to a large scale terrorist attack.
In my government classes at Dartmouth, there is always “That Guy.” He speaks too loudly, he leans so far back in his chair you wish he would just tip over, he thinks he speaks God’s word and his monologues are long enough to make the professor cut him off.
Every year, Dartmouth accepts a few dozen transfer students. This number usually hovers around 30 to 40 among a pool of approximately 700 applicants. The transfer students come from a vast array of backgrounds, from veterans to varsity athletes. As expected, many of the transfer students come in on a credit deficit, because Dartmouth does not always accept every credit the student has to offer. This can cause transfer students to fall behind, and Dartmouth’s restrictions and protocols only make the situation increasingly difficult for those students.
The other day, I felt compelled to check the website for my high school’s student newspaper. Since arriving at Dartmouth, I hadn’t paid any attention to current events at my old school, and I was curious to see what changed during my first five months at college. Sports highlights, interviews with teachers, movie reviews — typical high school journalism filled the paper, until I stumbled upon an article titled, “Valedictorian and Salutatorian titles will no longer be offered as GPA recognition during graduation.”