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In the fall of 2016, conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos came to Dartmouth to speak, despite vocal objections from many students and faculty. Last spring, Native American studies professor N. Bruce Duthu ’80 declined his appointment as the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences amid concerns over his support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Both of these events roused dialogue about Dartmouth’s commitment to supporting diverse ideas, but they also raised a larger question. What obligation does Dartmouth, as a private academic institution, have to uphold free speech and at what point should Dartmouth comment on and act upon the public actions of its students and faculty?
Earlier this term, a floormate told me how guilty she felt for watching YouTube videos unrelated to coursework, something she had never felt in high school. While Dartmouth students have a reputation of being laid-back, even as a first-year I have seen how deeply imbued students are in the corporate recruiting world. As week five approaches and the term reaches its halfway mark, this balancing act becomes a juggling one. We manage academic and athletic schedules, friendships and relationships, healthy eating and declining DBA. This seems logical — most of us are Dartmouth students because we are wired to take advantage of every opportunity we can. But despite the extent to which our classmates pretend to have it all, not everything is possible. Unless we consciously change it, America’s emphasis on stress and corporate culture begins during our four years at college.
To most American citizens, the small Caribbean island of Puerto Rico seems to be distant and wholly irrelevant to the country as a whole. Indeed, only 54 percent of Americans are aware that the 3.5 million inhabitants of the island are U.S. citizens. And they are suffering, not just from Hurricane Maria, but from underlying issues worsened by the island’s territorial status. Washington has a duty, therefore, to protect its citizens by accepting Puerto Rico into its ranks as the 51st state in the Union.
I ran into something strange over the summer.
“Acche Din” — “Good Days” in Hindi — was the slogan that helped bring Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party to power in India in 2014. Now, more than three years into Modi’s term, India has yet to experience those promised good times. Modi has put India into an undesirable position. The BJP’s reforms have not gone far enough, the economy is not growing as quickly as expected and the country is increasingly being divided along ethno-religious lines.
We live in a time of tremendous social change. America enjoys more pluralism, civil rights and social equality than at any other point in its 241-year history. In the social media-dominated election of 2016, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest generational voting bloc. American democracy is more open, young and diverse than ever before. However, this country systematically denies the birthright of voting along a stark line of social, moral, political and economic inequality. This condemnation of young Americans to second-class citizenship delegitimizes our democracy, hinders long-term policymaking and violates human rights. We must recognize the inalienable voting rights of our minors.
Today, we often let convenience make our decisions for us. The easiest and perhaps the quickest option usually wins. The rapid growth and success of online retailers such as Amazon offer proof that many of us would rather click a few buttons than get ourselves to a store to buy the things we need or want. It’s just so easy. In the past two weeks, I have ordered a rain jacket, face wash, a phone charger and a comforter through Amazon. Yes, I could have walked down to CVS or taken the free shuttle to West Lebanon to buy these items, but why leave campus when I can make purchases from the comfort of my dorm room? Yet this convenience comes with an inherent trade-off in sustainability. Ordering things online multiplies the amount of packaging needed. Instead of the singular box an item comes packaged in at the store, the shipping process uses an additional box and tape that would not otherwise be needed.
On GroupMe and Snapchat, most exchanges with my friends begin with questions like: “Breakfast at 7:10 a.m.?” “Lunch after class?” “Collis or Foco?” At 10 p.m. on any given day, we can be found at the Hop for Late Night (“$5.50 for a fruit cup?!”) calculating how many meal swipes we’ve used that week. Over the past month, campus dining has streamlined my diet into a rotation of salads, pasta, omelettes and smoothies. Most nights I pair the latest offering from Ma Thayer’s with cantaloupe cubes while my more athletic friends gorge themselves on plates of pizza and grilled cheese. Yet as someone who believes that “you are what you eat,” I’ve felt that an essential part of me is missing.
When I first read Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” as a high school student, I loved its romanticization of academia. The novel ostensibly focuses on the aesthetics of higher education. The main character, Richard Papen, arrives at the fictitious Hampden College and instantly falls in love with New England. He later manages to join five other students in the school’s exclusive classics department and spends most of his time bonding with his classmates over studying Greek literature.
Feminists are proud, independent women, but in order to further our cause, we do, in fact, need men. A major shift in the social paradigm is impossible when only part of the population is fighting for change. We need the other sex to fill the gaps, to help us form a united front and to project our voices in the places where we are not heard yet. This does not mean we are asking for charity.
If you were to ask a Dartmouth student studying Mandarin why they were devoting their time to learning the language, they might cite its potential utility in the near future. With a population of around 1.3 billion people and an economy that, depending on who you ask, either is about to or already has surpassed that of the United States, China is irrefutably a major player on the international stage. So, the Mandarin-learning Dartmouth student would be right to say that Mandarin will become more useful. However, its overall use will remain limited, and it is unlikely to ascend to become the next global lingua franca — or “bridge language.”
Dartmouth encourages and aspires for us to become citizens and leaders of the world, and an international perspective is a critical indicator of an enriching education. Yet gaining this perspective begins with how we read the world. To read it insightfully and critically, we require intercultural competence, knowledge about one’s own culture and other cultures and the ability to bridge these divides through dialogue. For many of us, especially those not fortunate enough to currently be studying abroad or completing an internship, our source of literature is the news. When we watch the news, we should consider issues in an international perspective to achieve our goals, to fulfill our civic responsibilities and to expand our minds.
What were your first memories of Dartmouth?
There is a common saying often heard by husbands: “Happy wife, happy life.” This saying also holds true in the primary and secondary education system: If teachers are happy with their work life, both the administration and the student body will be more likely to thrive. State and local governments currently have too much jurisdiction over education curriculum, which may be contributing to the lack of quality teachers across the United States.
Like many Dartmouth students, I went through a transitional process from high school hopeful to nervous college student last fall, a shift that involved a great deal of uncertainty and doubt. As Eliza Jane Schaeffer ’20 astutely observed in her Sept. 13 article on adjusting to Dartmouth life, “The College on the (Northeastern) Hill,” ordering Collis pasta is quite the feat for a first-year. In that same article, Schaeffer pointed out the unique challenges Southerners face on Dartmouth’s campus, where they are heavily outnumbered.
Earlier this year, I published my first column in The Dartmouth, “Consumerist Masturbation,” in which I identified consumerism as seen in Kevin Spacey’s hit movie, “American Beauty.” Though it was released in 1999, the film’s satirical take on consumerism remains a relevant criticism of American society. Lester Burnham (Spacey) leads a miserable life: He has a strained relationship with his wife and daughter, a monotonous job that offers no corporate advancement and an unquantifiable amount of regret and unrealized potential. But the screenwriter’s focus is on the material that, by conventional measures, show his social rank: his two-story house surrounded by a literal white picket fence and a Mercedes SUV.
Many Southerners remain confused about the Civil War, its origins and the implications it bore for the Confederate States. Harvard professor John Stauffer reported in a 2011 Harvard Gazette article that nearly 70 percent of white Southerners believe that states’ rights were the underlying cause of the war, while slavery was only a secondary cause.
Today, the town of Hanover will have its annual ballot to vote on new zoning articles and town officers. Potential new laws are of special interest to the Dartmouth community. This year, Hanover’s town meeting is acutely relevant to the College, thanks to one high-stakes petition article.
Depression is a serious issue among college students. It is one we often discuss but rarely act to resolve. Because we cannot assume that students with depression will reach out for help, we may not react in time to help a student in need. May is Mental Health Awareness month, and I believe it’s up to students — and not just College programs — to take action to end depression rather than waste time discussing it.
Dispelling the myths surrounding the term “political correctness” requires me to make both a concession and a confession before addressing the article’s central thesis.