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Some Things are Wrong

(04/27/99 9:00am)

Last year at this time I was moved to write a column concerning a school shooting. The same horror has been repeated again this year. And yet again each of us is left trying to make some sense of such an evil. We are left asking how teenagers can murder fellow teenagers, how the human heart can become so callous as to laugh at the sight of fellow humans being mowed down. I, too, am left horrified and confused. But I wonder if the shootings of recent years should really surprise us that much. A provocative but I think important question is whether these shootings are not in actuality the logical manifestation of a nihilistic culture which denies all meaning and truth -- except to affirm the ultimate right to self-autonomy.

Due Process

(04/27/99 9:00am)

The choice of who will be selected to participate on the steering committee is going to be one of the most important decisions by the student body in our tenure at the College. This selection will almost certainly be as much a result of process as it will be a matter of the potential candidates from which to choose. The process in this case is of such importance because it will determine how well the student body will be represented on the committee. It cannot be overestimated how crucial a role these students will play in the future of Dartmouth. They are going to have to relate to the Trustees the values and the reality of student life on campus. They are going to have to stand up for what students hold dear in the face of a possibly unreceptive committee, and they are going to have to know when to compromise and when to hold their ground. A campus-wide election will not produce someone with the qualifications necessary for this committee. It would produce an affable, friendly person who gets along with a lot of people, and may know a lot of people. It will not produce someone who has the qualities necessary to stare down a Trustee. How well one runs a campaign, and how well one presents student views to this committee are not necessarily the same thing. The selection process should take the following form: There should be a well publicized application process to which any student may apply. After this, there should be an interview process by a Student Assembly committee. In addition, there should be an open process by which any student may offer opinions on the candidates to the committee. This will ensure that an informed, knowledgeable judgment can be made, with input coming from the entire student body. Student Assembly has experienced a diversification in its own representation over the past year. It is now more reflective of the composition of the student body, including an increase in the membership of Greek affiliated students. They should take advantage of this representation now by providing a more in-depth selection process than an election would permit. It would be easy for the Student Assembly to hold a campus-wide election to choose who gets these positions. This would put the onus of responsibility on the collective student body, and would allow SA to say that the students chose. This will not result in the best representatives, it will result in the best poster-makers, or the person who knows more people. The harder choice for the SA is to take on this burden of selection themselves; but if this is done with free student input on the individual merits of the candidates, it will surely result in the best representation.

Connerly discusses his life, views on race in America

(04/27/99 9:00am)

Ward Connerly is black and a strong opponent of affirmative action -- a position that may seem contradictory to some, but logical for him. "I see affirmative-action as unconstitutional, it is contrary to the 14th Amendment," he said. "The government should not be subdividing people, these policies build resentment and will only get us into trouble." Affirmative action marginalizes minorities by implying that without help they are not good enough to succeed, he said. Connerly, a member of the Board of Regents of the University of California, urged his fellow regents to eliminate race as a factor in admissions decisions before leading a California-wide campaign for Proposition 209. Adopted in 1996 by a vote of 56 percent in favor, Proposition 209 eliminated affirmative action in public employment, public education and public contracting in California. After the Californian referendum, Connerly founded the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) to spread his message against race-based affirmative action across the country. This organization recently helped pass a similar initiative in Washington State and is currently campaigning in Florida. During his campaign for Proposition 209, a reporter accused Connerly of being a hypocrite, saying that his firm, Connerly and Associates Inc., had benefited from affirmative action. According to Connerly, this claim was later retracted. However, the accusation stuck. Connerly has also often been accused of being a traitor to his race because of his stance against race-related affirmative action. "These people [who say that] want black people to be sheep," he said. "They suppose there is a black agenda, and if you don't support it, you are not a true black." "Does this mean I'm not eligible to be a black guy?" Connerly asked. "What about white people who support affirmative action? Are they traitors to their race?" "In a democracy, people should argue issues on the merits of the arguments," said Connerly, who has had a bodyguard ever since receiving death threats because of his controversial views. Connerly has had to deal with race-related bias due to his interracial marriage. (He is married to an Irish-American woman.) However he and his wife raised their two children, without addressing the subject. "When you tell kids that they will experience problems, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said. Connerly is a also a supporter of domestic partnership benefits to homosexual employees. He has received criticism for this stance from both liberals and conservatives. "We have to learn to deal with difference," he said. "This is not the same as tolerance. That implies that you have passed judgement, and that your viewpoint is right," he added. Connerly and his wife founded Connerly and Associates, Inc., a housing association management consulting firm, in 1973. He is also regarded as one of the industry's top experts in housing and development issues. After graduating from a predominantly black high school, Connerly attended American River Junior College before transferring to and graduating in 1962 from Sacramento State College.

Alums, student form Action Network

(04/27/99 9:00am)

The Dartmouth Action Network, a group focused on increasing student and alumni voice in College decision making and on renewing attention to the Board of Trustees social and residential life initiative, was officially launched to the campus yesterday. The Action Network, founded by alums Steven Sugarman '97 and Richard Yeh '97 and current student Steve Hawkins '99, all members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, hopes to "make the Trustees accountable to the opinions of the greater Dartmouth community." The group was announced to the campus through an advertisement in The Dartmouth yesterday and through a mass BlitzMail message. Sugarman told The Dartmouth the group hopes to give students and alumni a greater voice in College decision-making in general, but that the Greek initiative will be the first item on their plate. "What drove us to form was a system-wide problem where students and alumni have repeatedly been frustrated and in a state of dismay over the decisions the administration has made recently," Sugarman said. The student and alumni group plans on soliciting opinions on campus through informal surveys and then relaying that information to the administration. "The Trustees have asked the community to respond. That's exactly what we're going to do but in an organized way," Hawkins said. "Our fear is that the Trustees are going to receive so many different opinions" that the common thread of support for the Greek system will be missed. Sugarman also said the Action Network has talked with academics about studying the effects of the single-sex Greek system on campus and what Dartmouth would look like and how it would function without them. While the group has hired professional political consultants to advise the organization on public relations issues, Sugarman said he hopes the Action Network's strength will spread their message. "Once we've basically consolidated an alumni group we'll become a force they'll honestly have to recognize. Even though they don't agree with everything we say, they'll have to sit at the table with us." Sugarman dismissed assertions made by many members of the administration and Board of Trustees that the social life issue is not open to debate. "Obviously the easiest thing for the Trustees is for those in the Dartmouth community who are upset with what they have done to sit back and listen to what they are saying that this is not a referendum and that [the Trustees] own the College and then do nothing," Sugarman said adding he thinks the Trustees "can be convinced otherwise." "The philosophy of the organization is not to be a fist-waving, angry organization that says the College and the administration are evil and we're going to fix it and watch out," Hawkins said. "We want to work with the College and we don't want an adversarial relationship ... the goal of the organization is to make the Trustees accountable to the opinions of the greater Dartmouth community." If we can come at them with a concrete, documented, supported argument that is convincing then that is the best possible way to affect their ultimate decision," Sugarman said. Initial funding for the group came from approximately six alumni. Sugarman said about a dozen alumni in total were influential in forming the group. The group will be soliciting donations for future activities. Sugarman declined to give specific information on the amount of support the Action Network has received thus far but did say the group has received e-mails "in the hundreds" and said detailed information on support would be released "in the near future." Names of those alumni and students serving in leadership positions of the organization were not released last night. Sugarman said that information would be announced in the coming weeks. One student who already has said she is on the Action Network's student executive committee is Coed Fraternity Sorority Council President Jaimie Paul '00. She told The Dartmouth she was approached about serving on the committee Winter term but the group's leaders wanted to present the organization in a concrete form which was the reason for the delayed announcement. "There are plenty of committees that do a lot of talking. Hopefully this will do some acting as well," Paul said.

His brilliant career: Frank Marshall discusses film

(04/26/99 9:00am)

For the past 26 years, producer Frank Marshall has been involved with some of the biggest films of the blockbuster era. He has been a producer for both the "Indiana Jones" and "Back to the Future" trilogies as well as "The Poltergeist," "Gremlins," "The Goonies," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Cape Fear" -- to name a few. Additionally, he has been nominated for two Oscars for his work on "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "The Color Purple."

Quid Pro Quo

(04/26/99 9:00am)

At a time when the College is going through such tumultuous and turbulent changes, it is important that the student leadership and the students involved in decision making are aware of what exactly is in the best interests of the College and the students at this time. That should be their only consideration.