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For most Dartmouth students, participating in the American democratic process meant casting a vote in this year’s general election. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, political energy blanketed campus, with ubiquitous voter registration drives, campus-wide emails and high-profile visibility efforts placing the campaign at the forefront of Dartmouth’s collective consciousness.
A unique asset of the D-Plan is the extended winter break that Dartmouth refers to as “winterim.” Students head home before Thanksgiving, free from work and worries, and get to enjoy time off until winter term begins in early January. But this year, due to COVID-19, things look a little different. While students will still return home before Thanksgiving, finals period will not take place until the week following that holiday. This creates a 13-day gap between the final day of classes and the first day of finals.
During election week, many Dartmouth students struggled to cope with an extended period of uncertainty. As they waited for ballots to slowly trickle in, students also had to manage the stress that comes with week eight of fall term. Some relied on friends and avoided social media to manage anxiety, while others found comfort in staying informed on vote counts. And while some students are hopeful about the future, others remain worried.
This past weekend, the nation breathed a sigh of relief. Even if the election results didn’t satisfy everyone, at least the process was over. After long days and longer nights of refreshing electoral maps, tracking vote counts and listening to news anchors drone on in the background, Dartmouth students could finally turn back to our studies and buckle down for the final weeks of the term. In many cases, we cracked open our textbooks after popping champagne, satisfied that our campaigning efforts had paid off.
Tuesday morning, I wake up at nine, get dressed and walk three minutes to Novack. A blast of warm air greets my face as I enter the cafe, followed by the voices of students in Zoom classes or friends chatting while they wait for their orders. Throughout this term, the line to buy my venti Pink Drink and egg and cheese croissant has grown longer. What was once a three-minute trip now takes 15 minutes, and I almost arrived late for my Native American studies class last week.
For many Americans who are not especially politically inclined, campaigns, elections and voting only come around every four years. For government professor Joseph Bafumi, they’re his job. Bafumi specializes in American politics, and his research focuses on predicting election outcomes. This year we face an election like no other: there’s a pandemic, intensifying political polarization, civil unrest and calls for racial justice. Pre-election, I spoke with Bafumi about what makes this election so different.
Right now the CNN electoral map is flashing red and blue in my peripheral vision — as it has been for the past 16 hours. My roommates turned on the TV at 4 p.m. on Election Day, and we haven’t turned it off since.
It’s week eight. But more importantly, it’s the week of the election. And, well, that’s as much as we can say. Without a clear winner called at the time we write this, as ballots continue to be tallied and the prospect of recounts loom, the U.S. is trapped in a twilight zone. Whether you’ve been obsessively following election coverage since Tuesday morning or occasionally checking your phone for breaking news updates, we’re all feeling the stress of being in a state of limbo. Is it time to cry? Should we pop the champagne? Do we even know? When will we know?
Undergraduate advisors have been busy this term with the normal demands of their jobs. That includes checking in on students’ wellbeing, creating floor programs and activities and in the case of my UGA, effortlessly opening the door to Topliff washer #2 after I thought it was stuck shut and would hold my clothes hostage forever. This fall, however, UGAs are also tasked with the extra responsibilities of enforcing the College’s COVID-19 policies.
Since March 2015, Dartmouth students have been on the receiving end of memorable, quirky content from the @dartmouthlibrary account on Instagram. I was lucky enough to pick the brain of library communications manager Tom Remp, who has been managing the account since late December, and whose reign has given us such segments as “Bird of the Week” and the study space competition. Daniel Chamberlain, associate librarian for digital studies, joined the conversation to speak about the account’s role in the Dartmouth community. Read on to see what they had to say about Instagram aesthetics, the infamous Library Desk Girl and how the account has adapted to COVID-19.
For international ’24s, dealing with time zone differences, worrying about getting to know people over a screen and struggling to make club meetings were certainly unexpected occurrences this fall. I, for one, never pictured myself dealing with a 13-hour time difference and attending office hours at four in the morning while taking classes in Seoul, South Korea.
I remember finishing my work shift in late July and pulling out my phone to see 235 unread messages. I braced myself for what I already knew: term assignments had come out. Everything I had speculated about sophomore year would change once I opened my email from the Registrar. Disbelief struck when I read that I had been approved for only one term, summer.
Ask any Dartmouth student about their most pressing concerns and you’re unlikely to hear that they’re stressing about finding their soulmate. The terms go by quickly and it’s hard enough to keep up with the whirlwind of club meetings, lunch dates and assignments. Though the object of marriage is not on the radar for most, there’s a certain phenomenon of Dartmouth students marrying other Dartmouth students. Although there aren’t statistics to back up the rumors, ask any student on campus about it and they’re likely to know what you’re talking about.
You don’t have to be at Dartmouth long to hear about how dismal winter term can be. However, after growing up in Maine and coming off an amazing first term, I did not believe I would succumb to the winter slump myself when I was on campus last year. But as my boots filled with snow as I trekked across the Green, I began to understand what upperclassmen meant when they criticized winters at Dartmouth.
King Arthur Flour’s Baker-Berry Library location — known to students as little KAF — has been closed for five months, and I’ve yet to successfully recreate their maple latte or spinach quiche. It might have something to do with my culinary skills, but maybe it just doesn’t taste the same without the delayed gratification of a 30-minute wait in line and the weight of an impending assignment on my shoulders.
As we approach Halloween here at Dartmouth, there’s a heightened level of fear across the student body. This fear, however, is not caused by your typical horror film or haunted house. Rather, it is the result of a steady stream of unknowns, distrust and paranoia surrounding one of the most concerning trends of fall term: students being forced to leave campus for the remainder of the academic year due to COVID-19 policy violations.
They call October “spooky season,” and this year, it’s not hard to see why. Dartmouth students are nearing the end of our third term since COVID-19 began. Finals are approaching, and exams and essays are always spooky. Next week, Americans will head to the polls to determine the trajectory of our nation, and many students can only hope their absentee ballots get counted. Spooky. And of course, Halloween is right around the corner, but can any costume be spookier than the masks we’ve been wearing for months?
You can hear it in the lingo-packed conversations on the Green, see it on the faces of students as they marvel at Hanover’s fall colors and read it in the words of adoration from alumni: Dartmouth is home to a uniquely tight-knit community, the closeness of which stems largely from years of tradition.
As consumers shift to digital forms of payment like credit cards and mobile banking, cash has dwindled from our day-to-day transactions. Like other trends, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be accelerating the transition from a cash-based to a cashless society.
Despite restrictions on social interactions, Dartmouth students are finding new ways to connect this term. Some are sticking with more familiar ways of meeting new people, but others are making the most of any and all online platforms to connect with others during a socially distanced time.