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After trying to fall asleep for hours, plagued by the worried insomnia that living through a pandemic seems to cause, I rolled over to grab my phone and open the podcasts app — a last-ditch effort to soothe myself to sleep. I tried to find something mindless, searching for a calming voice talking about anything that could help me relax. But every single recent podcast was about the coronavirus. None of these would help me sleep.
By spring term, freshmen at Dartmouth have usually nestled into their favorite study spaces and figured out their preferred methods of learning. But now, with the ambiance of the Tower Room and the bustling traffic on Blobby farther away than most of us would like, many Dartmouth students have had to adjust to learning at home.
April in Hanover brings bird songs and flower buds and 50-degree days that feel like summer. Students shed coats and swarm the Collis porch, treading through puddles of melted snow to get to class. But this month, thousands of feet won’t churn the paths of the Green to mud. Instead, most of us are hundreds or thousands of miles from campus, learning how to do Dartmouth from home.
For Dartmouth students lucky enough to not have pressing safety and financial concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unexpected surplus of free time spent at home. Many students are filling the newfound time with hobbies both old and new.
This week’s issue of Mirror came together a bit differently than usual. Production is not happening on the second floor of Robinson Hall. We are not sitting at our desks, listening to the buzzing energy of Dartmouth’s campus seep through the windows of Robo. Instead, this issue has come to fruition through Zoom meetings, phone interviews and writers and editors typing away from different areas of the world (most likely in their pajamas). We are living in a new reality brought about by COVID-19. Uncertainty lingers in many aspects of our lives — how will this end? When will it end? What will the world look like when the coronavirus is finally contained? What will our lives look like? As 20S begins, Dartmouth students — and all students — must tackle the additional challenge of taking classes during this chaotic time. Although we have little control over the spread of this virus, we can choose how we approach moving forward. That is why we, at Mirror, titled this issue “New Beginnings.” This term will be a difficult one for all of us — students, faculty and family. But with a new reality comes a new opportunity, and it’s up to us to decide how we will make the most of our time spent apart.
People have always used humor as a response to current events, no matter how serious, and Dartmouth students' reactions to COVID-19 have been no different. Dartmouth's meme page, currently titled "Dartmouth Memes for Cold AF Teens," is chock-full of memes about the coronavirus and its effects on the student body.
If there’s one thing that this coronavirus situation has made me think about, it’s how much space I take up, both on Dartmouth’s physical campus and in the community.
In the two weeks between Dartmouth’s finals period and the start of spring term, college life as we knew it came to a halt. On March 12, undergraduate students received an email announcing that the first half of spring term would be online. While some students held onto the hope that they would be reunited with their peers halfway through spring term, students quickly received another email on March 17 confirming that the entirety of spring term would be conducted remotely.
It’s a tumultuous time for the world as the COVID-19 pandemic upends the “normal” that we once knew. The shift to remote learning is challenging for both educators and students as both parties navigate new technologies and teaching and learning methods. I had the chance to speak with Thayer School of Engineering professor Eugene Korsunskiy about the unique transition that he and other professors must make for classes that rely heavily on in-person, hands-on collaboration. Korsunskiy teaches ENGS 12, “Design Thinking” and ENGS 15, “Senior Design Challenge,” both of which have never before been taught remotely.
According to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pharmacy in Lebanon distributed 5,146,260 opioid pills between 2006 to 2014, making it the pharmacy which dispensed the most opioids in Grafton County. While the number of pills is not irregular considering the size of the population the pharmacy serves, the data illustrates the opioid epidemic in the Upper Valley and New Hampshire, which is changing with a rise in fentanyl use despite the best efforts of local organizations to combat the problem.
Law and Order. Beyond being the title of a popular TV series — we know the familiar “dun dun” just played in your head — the concept is present in many facets of our daily lives. However, it is also subjective; each society has its own set of rules and regulations on par with its norms and expectations. We often believe that laws reflect what’s right and wrong — but with the variable constructions of what is good or bad, it may not be so black and white. In some countries, corporal punishment is a practical parenting method; in others, it is child abuse and illegal. In some parts of the world, marijuana can be bought and sold legally; in others, its possession can be punishable by death. In this week’s edition of the Mirror, we look at issues related to law and order. We investigate the opioid crisis in New Hampshire; we hear from the director of the Global Health Initiative Program at Dartmouth about the implications of coronovirus; and we ask our writers about their views on matters related to the law.
What does justice mean to you?
The insanity of writing a reflection piece about being a tour guide is not lost on me. I truthfully cannot believe that, of all things eligible for reflection and thought, being a tour guide is what I chose. Maybe it is because being a tour guide trainer the past two years has dominated so much of my time that a part of my brain has been conditioned to think about guide-related things at all times. Or maybe it’s because, as a senior, it’s time for me to admit that being a tour guide has become an integral part of my Dartmouth identity.
Dartmouth is a bastion of wealth, privilege and education, but towns only minutes away are being ravaged by job instability, poverty and addiction. It’s all too easy for students to enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings and ignore the rest because these problems feel far away from our climate-controlled classrooms. However, Dartmouth and the surrounding communities aren’t immune to epidemics like the opioid crisis sweeping across rural America.
One in six Americans report running out of food at least once a year. In college, where we have meal plans and dining halls, it is easy for some to ignore this problem. But at the collegiate level, food insecurity is still an incredibly pressing issue. A 2019 survey released by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days. At Dartmouth, students on financial aid who have stayed on campus over interim periods have reported struggling with financing meals.
Do you cook for yourself?
Professional kitchen environments heighten many not-so-sought experiences and make a whole lot of mess, but nonetheless turn orchestrated chaos into something beautiful that nourishes you and those you care about. Before and during my time at Dartmouth, I cut my teeth (and my fingers) in professional kitchens in London, Portland, ME and Wellesley, MA. I was 17 when I worked my first shifts as a line cook. When I reminisce on my time in these spaces, my heart rate quickens, and I grow tense as if to brace myself standing in the path of a cresting wave. In the throngs of the professional kitchen environments where I worked, I could not help but feel small. I could not help but feel a bit out of place. And I could not survive unless I believed in myself, asked for assistance when I needed it, learned from my failures and celebrated my successes.
As a freshman, the majority of my meals take place in the traditional dining hall setting that is the Class of 1953 Commons, more familiarly known as Foco. I go in, try to find a free booth on light side, brave the lines for sushi or Ma Thayer’s, eat and catch up with friends, get rid of my plate and cup, and leave. It is a routine, one without thought — the food seemingly appears at the stations and the dishes apparently disappear at the dish drop. But though my napkins and food scraps are spun out of sight and out of mind, they do not simply vanish.
At the height of my Snackpass clout, I had 30 discounted entrees, 20 of them entirely free. When Snackpass launched on Dartmouth’s campus, I encouraged all my friends to use my referral code so we could both get discounts. And with the benefit of free food, it wasn’t too hard to convince most people.