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The Moosilauke Ravine Lodge has the unique distinction of being haunted by both the dead and the living. I first became aware of its ghosts at the inauguration of Jessica Griffin ’11 as Lodge manager. I had been on an overnight hike with a friend of mine, an avid outdoorsman, and he’d brought me along to the Lodge for dinner. It was the first time I’d been back since a year earlier during my Dartmouth Outing Club first-year trip. At the time, I wasn’t sure I was interested in the Outing Club culture — or the outdoors itself, for that matter. The inauguration proceedings involved a delicate ritual of celebration and ridicule, and there is a part where all the Lodgelings dance in a spinning circle as the Kitchen Witch beats her steel drum to rhythm of an ancient song. The ghosts came out of the woodwork.
Content warning: The following contains images and content that may trigger survivors of violence or sexual assault.
Over the past few weeks, many of my friends have asked me how it feels to be so close to graduating, and what I’ve learned from my time at Dartmouth. I’ve yet to provide a satisfactory answer to the question, even though it’s a question I’ve spent plenty of time considering. I had barely formed a rough conception of what my Dartmouth experience has meant to me in my head, let alone found a way to formalize my experience into words that could serve as a proper conclusion to my time here. So to everyone who’s asked me this question, what follows is my best attempt to date at reflecting on my Dartmouth experience.
Dear President Phil Hanlon:
On the last day of Freshman Week 1962 — some 54 years ago — we sat in Webster Hall for a lecture by professor Francis Childs, on the history of this College. He told us of Dartmouth’s founder Eleazar Wheelock, and notable alumni Daniel Webster and William Jewett Tucker, and he concluded his presentation with this: “You are now a part of Dartmouth, and for as long as your lives shall last Dartmouth will be a part of you.”
I have a friend from home who just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He is especially reflective and keen to proffer advice. Just a few months before he entered the real world, he sent me an article from Sociology of Education titled “Career Funneling: How Elite Students Learn to Define and Desire ‘Prestigious’Jobs.” Of everything he’s ever told me, from “don’t take dumb classes freshman year” to “don’t worry, you’re at Dartmouth — you can always sell out,” this article was the single most enlightening piece of information.
As the spring term comes to a close, there are various things on the minds of Dartmouth students. Storing their belongings and moving out of their rooms, preparing for final exams and final papers and wondering if their bodies will ever fully recover from Green Key may be just a few among them. As finals loom closer and closer, students prepare themselves not only for their tests, but for another, equally concerning possibility: that their final may get streaked. For decades, it has been a time-honored tradition for Dartmouth students to run through the biggest finals on campus completely naked, save for the occasional mask. Even though everyone who does this probably means to carry out a funny, well-intentioned prank, it can actually be a lot more harmful than people realize.
Ever since her substantial win in the New York primary last month, former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton has been enjoying a comfortable presumptive win of the Democratic nomination. On Wednesday, news broke of a report published by the Inspector General investigating the Clinton’s use of a personal email server for her correspondence as the highest-ranking official of the State Department. According to the report, several counts of misconduct occurred during the use of the personal email server. The most concerning aspect is the lack of authorization for her use of the server. Even though Clinton claims to be “as transparent as possible,” her staff did not seek information security approval from a senior State Department official nor did her office cooperate with the inquiry proceedings.
We here in the United States pride ourselves on our freedom of speech, an invaluable right and great power that the Constitution gifts us. And, as we all know very well from a popular superhero franchise, with great power comes great responsibility. Here’s the thing: if you want to be rude, you have the right to be rude. If you want to be ignorant, failing to back up your claims with any evidence, again, you have the right to do that. However, if you consider yourself someone who values discourse, education, creative thought and kindness in general, you have to think before you speak. Otherwise, you don’t really value knowledge or empathy — and, in a way, humanity.
In Praise of Language Learning
Artists are considered dreamers, idealists and romantics, but rarely are they considered intellectuals, hard-workers or pragmatists. And, more generally, dreaming is seen as akin to dwelling in nostalgia, and idealism to false hope. Romanticism is illogical. Art, one may conclude, is about lingering in a world of the past — taking one’s time to stop in nature and write a poem, capturing a landscape slowly with oil paints, playing a slow piano tune in a salon. Due to the ongoing technological boom, today everything is all about maximizing efficiency. No one has time for art anymore.
If I had a dollar for every “political selfie” that has graced my Facebook newsfeed this election cycle, I could probably purchase a selfie stick for everyone on campus. The likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, made her way to Hanover last July with challenger Bernie Sanders following closely behind. To this day, I am neither “Ready for Hillary” nor “Feeling the Bern,” although my social media accounts back then may have suggested otherwise. For weeks on end after their visits, I scrolled through a deluge of political selfies featuring the two candidates. This is not to excuse GOP candidates from the same behavior, as I soon discovered that those across the partisan aisle are also suckers for a selfie. Albeit less frequently, the smiling faces of Rand Paul and John Kasich also popped up on my feeds more than I would like to admit. Despite recent revelations that Facebook and other social media platforms might be less than neutral, that is not the direction I would like to take this piece. Instead, I would like to take a few moments to hash out our generation’s brand of high art: the selfie.
In rankings of American college campus dining services, Dartmouth often ranks in the top tier. However, although Dartmouth Dining Services does offer quality products and a wide range meal options for students, there are several areas that need significant improvements. While students have brought up many of these problems over the past few years, they have gone unaddressed by the College.
It is never easy to draw attention to the failures of this school I have come to love so much. It is harder still to hold my fellow students responsible for such failures. But hardest of all is to see these same students fight one another, so insistent in their quest to be right that they refuse to see the school for anything else. Nonetheless, when basic civil liberties are violated and when so few have spoken against their transgressions, I cannot and will not remain silent. Thus I must turn to the students of the Black Lives Matter movement and roundly condemn their actions in the Collis Center.
Despite being an English major, I am concerned about the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse reveal not only that the number of women with bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering disciplines is low, but that it has in fact decreased since 2004. Most drastically, women received only 23 percent of computer science degrees in 2004, while in 2014 this number fell to 18 percent. Coincidentally, I happen to be taking a statistics class that involves a little bit of computer science, which allows me some personal insight as to why this problem exists. After all, why don’t women just major in science? There’s no legal or written boundary stopping them.
Two weeks ago, Harvard University’s administration handed down a historic ruling that stated that starting with the Class of 2021, any undergraduate members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations would be banned from holding captain positions on athletic teams or holding leadership positions in any recognized student groups. Members of these organizations, which at Harvard include finals clubs and Greek houses, will also not be eligible for fellowships like the Rhodes or Marshall scholarships. This decision, which came in the wake of a sexual assault investigation that shined a very unflattering light on Harvard’s single-gender social organizations, has sparked a lot of discussion around the country about the merits and drawbacks of social organizations that inherently exclude half of the student body based on gender. Whether they be Greek houses or secret societies, single-gender organizations have all but dominated Dartmouth’s social scene since there has been one. However, in the wake of intense national discussion concerning Greek houses and the decision from a peer institution to all but abolish any social organization that does not go coed, we are left to question: what are the merits of single-gender social organizations?
Is This Enough?
For all of its flaws and weaknesses, the United States is still an exceptional country. Despite over two hundred and thirty years of change, America is arguably the greatest country in the world now, just as it arguably was back in 1776, when it began as a democratic republic in an age of empires and kingdoms. The world looks to Washington, D.C. for leadership and strength in times of war and peace, in times of darkness and prosperity. In my opinion, Americans are the most diverse, industrious, innovative and hopeful people on earth. Our real GDP and GDP per capita are among the highest in the world, education is widespread, our economy is robust and our society is stable and secure, and Americans pride themselves on having freedom of speech, opportunity for upward mobility and welcoming immigrants from around the world throughout our history.