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As summer trades its torrid weather for fall’s “maturing sun,” big decisions loom in the air regarding the future at the College. As anticipation builds up, we look within our community as well as outside it to find overlapping issues, from COVID-19 to systemic racism, all chipping away at our complacency. While it seems like we are approaching a boiling point, we also find ourselves asking: could this crisis present us with opportunities?
Without a single reported case of COVID-19, Hanover’s Kendal Retirement Community has been lucky in avoiding the reach of the pandemic so far. But with thousands of Dartmouth undergraduates soon to be returning to campus from all over the country and world — some likely to be traveling from infection hotspots — the possibility of spread to the town and to other vulnerable Upper Valley communities like Kendal has become a source of uneasiness.
When the influenza in 1918 caused Dartmouth to cancel student activities and postpone classes for two weeks, Clifford Orr, Class of 1922, wrote to his father that “the epidemic has killed what college life there was.”
The first time I played pong was during my freshman spring in the basement of Chi Gam. My partner was a Dartmouth senior, a Chi Gam member and a would-be Masters finalist. He was also my UGA. Thinking back, there was probably no better introduction to the illustrious game of Dartmouth pong. Unless, of course, I had learned in a sorority. But sororities hadn’t been marketed to me as open spaces, I didn’t know any sorority members and for some reason I was thrilled to be invited into a male space.
On June 29, Dartmouth announced its plan for a partial reopening in the coming terms, which includes a decreased student body in residence, a mix of virtual and in-person classes and restrictions on where students can and cannot go. Due to these limitations, some students are considering gap years, hoping to be on campus only when Dartmouth is closer to normal.
Ever since the College announced its reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic year, it feels like we’ve been sent into a tailspin. The emails from the Office of Institutional Research are still languishing in our inboxes, as we frantically attempt to draw a full picture of the undergraduate student body: Who will be on campus in the fall, winter and spring? What will life look like on the “Hanover Plain”? How will our D-Plans morph around our priority terms?
As the College gears up for fall term, student groups are adjusting their operations to a new campus reality. Whether service or performance based, clubs face challenges in adapting to COVID-19 restrictions and to the hybrid format of an in-person and remote fall term.
Lately, I have spent more time than ever before thinking about the future — not just my individual plans, but what the concept of the future means. As a history major and art history minor, my mind is usually focused on the past. These historical perspectives are perpetually useful for understanding the present moment, even the “unprecedented” present moment we face today. Recently, I have been trying to translate my inclination to ask and answer the question, “How did we get here?” into the question, “Where are we going?”
As the Black Lives Matter movement gains increased momentum across the country, few Dartmouth students have kept silent. Social media has become a powerful player in the movement as a tool both to educate and organize.
We all know their names — Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner — and the list goes on for far too long. We mourn the loss of those whose lives were unjustly cut short, and condemn the systemic racism that riddles American culture, institutions and politics. But the recent wave of protests and activism suggests that now is not just a time for grievance — it’s a time for action.
News coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement has shown scenes of peaceful marching as well as looting and burning during protests. The Dartmouth sat down with history professor Matthew Delmont to discuss the history and background behind the various types of responses to racial injustice.
Gab Smith ’22 took AAAS 11, “Introduction to African Studies” last fall as a prerequisite for the African and African American Studies minor. Before enrolling in the class, a friend told her it would be relatively easy; this came as a relief to Smith, who was looking for a less intensive class to balance out a time-consuming lab commitment.
I first heard about Dartmouth as a high school sophomore. I was sitting in my honors English class when I overheard a junior say that Dartmouth was her dream school. At that point, I was still well over a year away from spending mental energy on college applications. I had always envisioned myself attending the University of Texas at Austin. Regardless, the idea of Dartmouth must have clattered around in my subconscious for a while because when it came time to apply to some dream schools, Dartmouth made the cut along with Harvard, Stanford and Yale.
One hallmark of the Dartmouth term is that it’s doled out in portion-controlled weeks, one after the next. Week one is for adjustment; week two is for “catching up” with once-per-term friends; week three begins the long and terrible blur of midterms that never end; week six is the termly weekend extravaganza; week eight is for formals; week nine is for wishing you were somewhere else.
The end of a term calls for relief. The end of a school year calls for reflection. The end of one’s time at Dartmouth calls for something harder to identify — for pride and gratitude, but also sorrow for all of the friends, places and traditions that graduating seniors must leave behind. This year, the end of spring brings a new kind of grief. Amid one of the most turbulent times our generation has ever seen, the Class of 2020 must seek a sense of closure for their college years, despite losing their last chance to be together on campus.
When I first came to Dartmouth, I was aware of several aspects of my identity. I was a lover of books. I wanted to study English and creative writing so that I could write stories that helped other people the way the stories I had read had helped me. I was white. I was a woman. I was middle-class. I was from Colorado, and I loved the mountains.
Over the last two weeks, as I’ve logged on to Zoom to watch some of my closest friends wrap up their Dartmouth careers with thesis presentations (and one sweet radio play), my brain has had ample opportunity to play evil comparison games. I often feel like I didn’t get the things out of my Dartmouth career that I wanted going into it, and it’s hard for me to remind myself to treasure what I did get out of the past four years. But when I truly take the time to give myself credit where credit is due, I’m able to notice that for each bullet point I missed, I gained my own experience of friendship, care and perseverance.
When the College announced that summer term would be remote, members of the Class of 2022 had to decide whether to have their sophomore summer online or push it off until next year. Three sophomores — Ronnie Ahlborn ’22, Lidia Balanovich ’22, and Ian Stiehl ’22 — settled on doing remote internships this summer instead of online classes.
The last time I was in a classroom was on March 11, for my German exam. My professor put a bottle of hand sanitizer on my desk, in direct response to my frequent anxiety-fueled comments about the coronavirus — voiced in my best German accent, of course. The next day, we got the announcement that the first half of spring term classes would be online.
For many outgoing Dartmouth students, senior spring represents a chance to create a fitting end to their time at the College. Having finally completed their academic requirements, seniors have the opportunity to create meaningful, fulfilling academic experiences in the classroom.