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Last week, the Hanover Selectboard voted to reinstate its indoor mask mandate, citing recent spikes in local COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant of the virus spreads nationally. The following day, Dartmouth announced that it would also reinstate indoor masking. These decisions seem decidedly unpopular among students, as evidenced by student sentiments seen in several pieces published in The Dartmouth last Friday.
Yesterday, Dartmouth announced that the College would be reinstating its indoor masking requirement in light of the Hanover Selectboard’s decision to renew its indoor masking policy on Aug. 4. Interim provost David Kotz and executive vice president Rick Mills also stated in a campus-wide email that the decision was made to “avoid future disruptions” and offer the community “the earliest possible return to normalcy.”
Summer term served as a test of Dartmouth’s ability to operate “normally” as the pandemic continues. It’s fair to say things have gone well so far: Until recently, cases have been few and far between even after most COVID-19 policies were rolled back in the last month. However, increasing case counts locally and the rapid spread of the Delta variant across the country have thrown a “normal” fall term into uncertainty. Just this week, Hanover reinstated its indoor mask mandate, and the College did the same yesterday. What should Dartmouth do to balance fears around COVID-19 with its long-promised return to normal operations? Should the College prioritize one over the other?
“This too shall pass.” So seems to be the logic of the institution: if you leave students in a constant state of limbo, they will forget what has already passed. But students see this and resist: calling on College President Phil Hanlon to resign, demanding compassionate mental health policies and stressing the need for an expansion of the housing supply. And as some students have noted in these opinion pages, this problem goes far, far deeper than the surface relief that changes in both administrative policies and personnel can provide. These problems are rooted in the historical, callous indifference of the College and the institution itself — its austere policies and the choices it makes — or refuses to make.
The recent campaign for a seat on the Hanover Selectboard by David Millman ’23 has shed light on the tensions between student and non-student residents of Hanover. Exhausted by years of name-calling and othering by non-student residents — including prominent residents like Hanover town manager Julia Griffin — Millman’s campaign promised students a seat at the table where decisions impacting their lives are made. Though his campaign was unsuccessful, its underlying message does not have to face the same fate. Dartmouth students have long been treated like second-class citizens in Hanover politics; it is long overdue for the town to treat us as equals in the community.
The International Olympic Committee claims that sport is “one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.” Yet in the past few weeks, at least three notable injustices against women have occurred at the Tokyo Olympics, calling into question the IOC’s commitment to those goals.
We live in a world where many of our problems — climate change, poverty, inequality and more — are caused or exacerbated by corporations. It is easy, as individuals, to settle for just posting about these issues on social media platforms rather than striving for tangible change. And who could blame us for buying an unsustainable outfit on Shein, eating a sandwich from the homophobic Chick-fil-A or using a plastic grocery bag? Most of us did not directly cause or contribute to the major issues plaguing our world, and we have our own problems, such as being college students during a pandemic with a scarcity of time and money. Changing our behavior when we already have such a small individual impact seems almost pointless. However, we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.
Matthew Magann ’21 hits on some very key points in his Tuesday article, “Resign, President Hanlon.”
During my time at Dartmouth, I have served on the executive board of Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority and the Inter-Sorority Council in an effort to discover how the widely-accepted ills of Greek life — racism, elitism, sexual violence, among others — can be addressed via collaboration. Following the recent pushback against a campus culture of sexual assault, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that one-sided action, even amongst a group of talented, ambitious women and non-binary individuals with the best possible intentions at heart, cannot remedy the pervasive disregard for consent and personal autonomy within fraternity spaces.
On my graduation day, June 13, I published what I believed would be my last article in this newspaper. It was a bittersweet moment, saying goodbye to a place at which I had worked for years, first as a writer, then as editor of the opinion section, and finally as Executive Editor.
The entire Dartmouth community is yearning to break free of the COVID-19 pandemic and make the long-awaited return to in-person classes. Yet, as we emerge from the pandemic, we can’t return to what we knew as “normal.” Before last spring, what might have been seen as classroom norms in fact presented barriers that prevented many students from fully thriving academically. Though by no means perfect, some changes brought about by the pandemic — such as recorded content and lenient course policies such as forgiving absences and alternative participation methods — greatly augmented students’ ability to participate in their classes. Come fall, these improvements must be carried over into the new school year to make Dartmouth more academically accessible for every student.
State legislatures get the short end of the stick when it comes to news coverage. Most national newspapers and TV channels naturally have their eyes glued on Washington, D.C. rather than attempting to monitor all 50 state capitals scattered across the U.S. Regardless of how closely people are watching them, state capitals are endowed with great powers.
Less than an hour after polls closed in Hanover’s 2021 Town Meeting, news broke that David Millman ’23 had lost his campaign for Selectboard. His campaign deserves tremendous credit for trying to get a student onto the governing board of this town — and for driving engagement with key local policy issues among the student body.
My name is Nancy Carter and I am a candidate for the Hanover Selectboard. I appreciate your support and would like your vote today.
Today, please make the time to participate in Hanover’s Town Meeting at the Dewey Field Parking Lot. Hanover residents will have the opportunity to vote by official ballot for town officers and four articles. Residents will also have the opportunity to attend the Business Meeting, starting at 7 p.m., to discuss and vote on articles six through 21, which pertain to matters such as the annual budget, bridge bonds and the Community Power Plan. I’m running for Selectboard to continue to support the pandemic recovery, ensure the successful re-evaluation of properties, encourage good planning and improve communications.
Throughout this pandemic, there’s been a theme.
Since November of last year, the Ethiopian military has been at odds with insurgent forces in the country’s northernmost state of Tigray. Stirred by an increasing sense of ethnic nationalism, the current fighting has led many to call for the state’s independence. While the state is functionally independent as is, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has declared its willingness to formally and permanently part with Ethiopia if the violence continues. However, whether the world will accept an independent Tigray is a difficult question to answer. Self-determination has consistently been the subject of controversy in international relations, especially because the United Nations charter does not contain any clear and certain guidance on the topic. In one section, it claims to support the “self-determination of peoples,” and presumably the right of people to become independent — while in another, pouring cold water on any sort of secession, forbidding infringements “against the territorial integrity … of any state.” These respective articles have been used in the past to justify both pro- and anti-independence viewpoints, leaving conflicts with no clear path to peace. The U.N. Charter must be updated to resolve this contradiction once and for all.
This past June, the Supreme Court handed its latest victory to religious interests in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the most recent in a series of rulings expanding the scope of freedom of religion under the First Amendment. The Court unanimously sided with Catholic Social Services, an organization that did not recognize marriages between same-sex partners and refused to certify them as foster parents, allowing the organization to retain their place as an official foster service provider for Philadelphia. The case is yet another in the trend of organizations, corporations, and individuals using religious liberty to justify discrimination — over the past decade, an unprecedented series of ‘wins’ for religious freedom have threatened some protections against employment discrimination, allowed the refusal of service to LGBTQ+ people and weakened access to reproductive healthcare. We as a society must more specifically define what religious freedom is and is not and combat its use to harm marginalized communities.
This past academic year, Dartmouth students have endured an unprecedented period of hardship and loss. Alongside the pandemic, which forced many students to go through the academic year relatively isolated from campus and their peers, students faced the loss of four of their peers — three of which were the result of suicide, according to reporting from The Dartmouth and the Boston Globe. These losses spurred outrage among students over the lackluster nature of Dartmouth’s mental health infrastructure, which many have blamed for creating an environment that does not adequately support students who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
Dartmouth is experiencing a mental health crisis, but it’s not just us: college students nationwide experienced higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in 2020 than in 2019. The pandemic has only exacerbated existing strain on college counseling centers. Something has to change.