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With India now averaging more than one million new cases of COVID-19 every three days as well as thousands of deaths daily, the country is in the midst of one of the worst outbreaks that the world has seen during the pandemic. This crisis has only been compounded by the country’s weak national health care infrastructure, medical supply shortages and low vaccination rates — to date, only 2% of India’s population has been fully vaccinated.
For decades now, America has been falling behind other advanced countries in terms of its physical and non-physical infrastructure. While the sight of crumbling roads and bridges, the prevalence of unsafe drinking water and the scarcity of well-funded public schools should not be accepted as the norm in any country — rich or poor — the startling reality is that the wealthiest country in the world is, in fact, complicit in the deprivation of essential services to its own people. Fortunately, the Biden administration recently put forth proposed legislation to tackle the uniquely American infrastructure crisis. The American Jobs Plan would invest $2 trillion in, among other things, creating “green” jobs, attempting to address inequities in transportation and initiating efforts to bring certain communities — particularly those in rural and underserved parts of the country — into the 21st century with high speed broadband.
Sophomore summer has long been a quintessential Dartmouth experience — a College tradition treasured by generations of students that offers the chance to bond with classmates, enjoy lazy days on the Connecticut, and share the whole experience with loved ones on family weekend. Less appreciated than these traditions, it goes without saying, are the academic opportunities — or lack thereof — offered over the summer. This should come as no surprise — one of the worst-kept secrets about sophomore summer is the term's shockingly limited class selection.
The results of the most recent Student Assembly elections are disappointing, not because the Khan-Muñoz campaign lost, but because I am worried that students who are struggling may feel left behind if their immediate needs sink into the background. After the year that many students have gone through at Dartmouth, with isolation in virtual classes, whiplash for varsity sports teams, permanent closure of libraries, cuts to study abroad programs and general inaction on the part of the administration, Student Assembly’s responsibility to act and move us toward material change is more clear now than ever.
“Dartmouth has not released a large amount of information about sophomore summer and what it will look like, but has said that it will be a hybrid term in preparation for a return to some sort of normalcy in the fall. According to the recently released timetable, however, there will only be around 20 in-person classes offered this summer. Given that sophomore summer is intended to be a transition term, what do you think it should look like? (this can draw on on-campus policies, course selection, housing & more).”
Last fall, my jog around the Parcel 5 trail in Norwich was interrupted by a Listserv email about the death of a member of the Class of 2024. In the winter, I was falling asleep to my Zoom screen when my phone dinged, notifying me about the death of another member of the Class of 2024. Two weeks ago, I was biking around Occom Pond when I got a call about the death of my good friend.
Each year, at the outset of Dartmouth’s Student Assembly election period, the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee publishes its annual election code. In recent elections, this rulebook — which outlines the regulations by which candidates’ campaigns and their supporters must abide — has grown increasingly complex and draconian, expanding into spheres of students’ social lives that a student-run committee should have no business occupying. This year and last, in the name of “ensur[ing] equality, equity, fairness between all candidates” after the pandemic forced campaign activities online, EPAC has only tightened its already stringent rules. Many of these more recently imposed regulations — as well as many of those already in place — are decidedly undemocratic and stand in direct conflict with the committee’s mission statement that EPAC exists to facilitate “open and fair” student elections.
The health of the environment is one of the most pressing issues of this century. If we do not make drastic changes soon, we will be left with a planet that is difficult to recognize — one plagued by rising sea levels, melting ice caps, bleached coral, loss of animal habitats, floods and heatwaves. Given the existential crisis we are facing, it is understandable that books, articles, documentaries and social media posts urging people to take individual action against climate change have become commonplace in recent years, pushing them to shift to a plant-based diet and reduce their carbon footprint, to recycle and reduce their waste and to limit their use of gas, water and electricity to reduce energy consumption. Yet while all of the above are commendable, environmentally-conscious habits, they leave out an important piece of the puzzle — the responsibility corporations bear for getting us into this mess in the first place.
On April 14, President Joe Biden announced an unprecedented change in American foreign policy toward Afghanistan: instead of a conditional withdrawal of troops, the United States will commit to a concrete timeline for bringing its forces home. While prior administrations have stipulated that the United States would need to ensure the long-term stability of the Kabul government before withdrawing troops, the last two decades have proven that there can be no such military solution in Afghanistan. With a timetable in place for when the U.S. will withdraw its troops, the Biden administration can finally build a sustainable peace without the need for intervention or its more sinister counterpart, occupation. The United States should supplement this decision with a renewed commitment to diplomacy and support the Afghan people in their nation-building efforts without direct military intervention.
Out of the 18 Student Assembly positions up for election this year, only two are actively contested — and both of these are in East Wheelock House. For the other 16 positions, there’s either one candidate running or none, leaving voters with a write-in as their only option. As I’ve written previously, the near-total dearth of electoral competition is a serious threat to the legitimacy of SA. It’s clear that electing senators by house is a key part of this problem. The concept of running elections by house is arbitrary and results in a nonsensical electoral process, with only a handful of contested races and others lacking even a single candidate. Then there is the question of fairness: while houses are randomly sorted and have no unique interests, their differing sizes mean that the principle of “one person, one vote” is blatantly ignored.
At the end of a Dartmouth student’s fifth term, they are required to begin the tedious but all-important task of declaring their major. The idea is that by the time a student has taken roughly 15 classes within their first five terms, they will have identified a department in which they would like to major. Most schools across the country have similar timelines, but the process by which students actually declare their major varies from institution to institution. At some universities — for example, Columbia University and Harvard University — students simply notify the department of their choice using online forms that take minutes to fill out. Dartmouth’s process, on the other hand, requires an extensive amount of work on the student’s part — work that does not involve students actually reflecting on the interest they have in their chosen department. Indeed, the majority of work Dartmouth students must put into the process of declaring their major is not for the purpose of finding and solidifying an area of interest but instead for fulfilling unnecessary administrative requirements.
Last week, Dartmouth announced its admissions decisions for the Class of 2025, and every high schooler admitted in this historically competitive year deserves a hearty congratulations. As students across the world consider where they will spend their next four years, the admissions office is no doubt already casting an eye toward prospective members of the Class of 2026. As it does so, Dartmouth should adopt lessons learned from this year’s strange cycle.
This past week, Dartmouth announced in a college-wide email that students living in off-campus, private spaces who were vaccinated could gather in groups of nine or fewer students without masks and without maintaining six feet of distance — a policy that is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding vaccinated individuals. However, the new policies do not afford vaccinated on-campus students the privilege of unmasked, undistanced gatherings because, in part, of the difficulty of ensuring only vaccinated students are gathering in common spaces or dorm rooms. Do you agree with these proposed changes to the college’s social distancing and mask policy? If not, what changes to these policies would you propose?
After former President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept his electoral loss in November and the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, it’s clear that the American people are deeply divided on the integrity and legitimacy of the electoral process. With six out of ten Republicans still under the impression that widespread voter fraud was responsible for President Joe Biden’s victory — it was not, to be clear — no one ought to think that American democracy is well. Baseless conspiracy theories like these will only lead to more chaos down the road.
The Biden administration has committed to a green energy plan powered by solar energy, but Biden’s human rights agenda in China may interfere with those goals: Because solar energy is to some extent dependent on products mined and manufactured in China, Biden may be forced to look the other way as China commits major human rights violations in order to maintain access to these critical resources. In doing so, Biden will fail to deliver on his promises to globally enforce human rights. To rectify this, Biden must shift his focus from solar energy to nuclear energy, allowing him to solve both this human rights dilemma and set the U.S. on the best path toward clean energy.
For many Dartmouth students, the promise of becoming fully vaccinated in the near future lies within reach, but the hope of returning to normal life still does not. While the College has in the last week begun the process of easing some social distancing restrictions for vaccinated students, it has made no mention of loosening facility access restrictions either for fully or partially vaccinated students or for those who have previously contracted COVID-19. This should change: Dartmouth should extend limited on-campus access to some facilities to all students who are fully vaccinated, who have acquired immunity through previous infection with COVID-19 or who have received their first dose at least two weeks ago.
In a year of online classes and limited in-person interaction, many students have skirted the restrictions of Dartmouth’s “Community Expectations” so they can socialize with friends. This behavior carries several risks — besides the danger of students catching COVID-19, there is always the chance that Safety and Security officers catch the students instead. When this happens, students are catapulted into an opaque disciplinary process that in the fall resulted in 86 students “disappearing.”