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Looking back now, I have very few regrets from my first year of college. After all, freshman year is meant to be a time of trial and error. From randomly choosing a dance partner for the “Salty Dog Rag” (a First-Year Trips tradition) to painstakingly selecting courses for the fall, Dartmouth freshmen are presented with a multitude of choices right off the bat that often define their first term.
I spent the summer before Dartmouth in a constant state of buoyancy. I was finally done with high school, which meant I was finally free to do whatever I wanted in college. The possibilities felt endless. I told myself, as Carey Mulligan did in “An Education”: “I’m going to read what I want and listen to what I want, and I’m going to look at paintings and watch French films and I’m going to talk to people who know lots about lots.” Early on, I set my heart on economics and comparative literature double-majors and a minor in music with the kind of confidence of someone who knew nothing. The D-Plan, with all its touted flexibility, seemed like the perfect vehicle for my academic plans. And as someone who wanted as much range in her studies as possible, I thought the combination I had chosen was perfect.
When I first stepped off the Dartmouth Coach in early September to begin my freshman year at Dartmouth, I thought that I was dreaming. It was the kind of afternoon that those of us familiar with northern New England’s erratic climate hope to experience once or twice a season. With golden sunshine reflecting off of the rooftops, brightly colored autumn leaves and a bright blue sky set against the silhouette of Baker-Berry Library, Dartmouth’s beauty enchanted me the second I laid eyes on campus. Heaven, I thought, could not be more wonderful than my beautiful new school.
Welcome to Dartmouth — a place of self-discovery, creativity and humility. Perhaps it was the very subtlety of students and professors’ intelligence that drew you to the school — it certainly was at the top of my pros and cons list a year ago. The College is composed of devoted intellectuals who prefer to walk the walk over talking the talk. But while humility is a uniting thread throughout Dartmouth — professors and students rarely share their accomplishments— I encourage you to be bold, brave and confident as you take on freshman year.
Why do we gravitate towards certain forms of entertainment at certain times? My millennial generation witnessed the rise of the dystopian novel and the rapid growth of the horror television genre. Is there a particular reason my generation identifies so strongly with these forms of leisure activities that shock and disturb us?
On Aug. 7, federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents conducted raids in Mississippi targeting immigrants working in food-processing factories across the state. Around 680 immigrant workers were detained by the more than 600 ICE agents in the largest single-state coordinated sting operation in U.S. history.
Every time I pass through the Hopkins Center this summer, I feel disconcerted by how empty the building is. Student-led tour groups, which usually crowd the space in front of Moore theater, are now outside, enjoying balmy weather on the Green. Voices can sometimes be heard floating over from the Hinman mailboxes, but no one is seen. The windows of the Courtyard Café are dark, while the hallway next to it seems perpetually submerged in half-darkness. Granted, campus is a lot emptier during summer, but the silence permeating the Hop seems especially out of the ordinary.
As an environmentalist, I had come to think of the organic label as the pinnacle of sustainable agriculture. In my mind, an organic sticker signified that produce comes from small, multi-crop farms, without synthetic inputs or excessive water and energy use, and that animal products are raised in free-range, humane conditions. Organic means more environmentally ethical — or so I thought. As it turns out, organic agriculture standards have expanded in recent years to encompass alarming practices that few would consider to be true to the original values of organic farming.
Almost every weekend at Dartmouth, you can find me scrambling up mountains, skiing through the woods, or running and biking along quiet roads lined with pine and birch forests. Yet I have only recently begun to declare myself an “outdoorswoman,” despite having fallen head-over-heels for the out-of-doors almost immediately after joining the Dartmouth Outing Club at the end of my freshman fall. At first, my deniability was somewhat plausible — I was simply an amateur trying out a new novelty. As time wore on, though, I was forced to admit that my hours spent in the forests and on the mountaintops of the Whites were more than just a passing whim. I loved the mountains and felt most in touch with myself and those around me when outside.
Now is an interesting time for Ethiopia. The country has emerged in the last year as the sweetheart of the developing world, in large part due to the leadership of its new reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. But a central issue has threatened the country’s new-found prosperity: ethnic nationalism. At the moment, Ethiopia’s budding progress is being diluted by the secessionist ambitions of its myriad ethnic minorities. However, this is not the time for individual nationalist ambitions to be entertained by the central government. Rather, it is time to establish a functioning national government that can enable a well-oiled, growing economy.
The Democratic left has been punching well above its weight recently. Its ideas have dominated the primary season — of the candidates currently averaging over 10 percent in Democratic primary polling, only Joe Biden is associated with the moderate wing of the party (though he, to be fair, maintains a sizeable lead over his rivals).
The most nuanced conversations I have about current political issues are private. In large groups, I nod in agreement. With close friends, I engage.
Here at Dartmouth, the idea of a liberal arts education guides our institution like a north star. It’s why the distributive system plays such a prominent role, akin to “general education,” in our academic experience. And it certainly would explain why pamphlets and tour groups boast of the metamorphosis into well-rounded intellectuals (ergo capable within both STEM and the humanities) at every chance they get. The goal of our education is to cultivate the totality of our abilities, not just our respective disciplines.
Food is a needlessly controversial topic at Dartmouth. Still, there seems to be a strong consensus against the current state of campus dining. For the most part, this hostility stems from the limited food options that students find themselves left with. To be clear, this scarcity of variety should not be wholly surprising, as we are, after all, inhabiting a small New England town. However, the situation could be vastly improved in a way that benefits everyone involved. The solution is simple: Dartmouth meal plans should be usable in Hanover’s restaurants.
Sophomore summer is a heralded time — our wonderful academic romp about the woodlands of New Hampshire. You’ve likely read about it in pamphlets or associated propaganda, wherein the administration lauds this time of community and kinship. “The region around Hanover is ripe for exploring,” they say. And I suppose it is; it has to be. You can’t afford to have students looking inward when you essentially shortchange the summer-dwellers in regard to on-campus dining. That’s right. The Courtyard Café’s once miraculous kitchen lies vacant, collecting dust bunnies rather than quelling our voracious appetites. The Collis Café’s beloved Late Night operates on truncated “summer hours.” The Cube, the only of the three snack bars left alive, has seen its hours of operation dwindle. When the summer rolls around, it’s the Class of ’53 Commons or bust. And it shouldn’t be.
What if it were possible to get better job opportunities by doing less recruiting? That would be a godsend for many of my friends who are spending their sophomore summers trying to game the corporate recruiting process into offering them jobs in which they have no interest. Many of my friends feel intensely pressured to get jobs in consulting, private equity or investment banking. Some are in it for the money and others to appease an over-zealous parent. Some are drawn by the promise of status-security and others are running from the prospect of unemployment. But very few have a genuine interest in these professions. This thoughtless pursuit of high-status jobs is a problem that has fueled the “snake” stigma against consulting, finance and even the economics major.
Protests and acts of civil disobedience have the power to make history. Anti-Vietnam war protests served to show the world that many Americans did not support the war effort and ultimately led lawmakers to consider how to end the war altogether. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement — one woman, Rosa Parks, took a personal risk to stand up against a discriminatory law. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is the stuff of history books. Protesting is part of a great American tradition of speaking out for what we believe in, no matter the consequences.
From the time you learned about sex in grade school until wherever you find yourself now, I’m sure that you have come across porn. Perhaps you have even thought twice about your own consumption. In front of a computer screen, it can feel so easy to disconnect ourselves from our actions. Clicking a link seems inconsequential, completely unattached both physically and emotionally from something recorded or photographed by strangers. And besides, most people watch porn — even if they won’t talk about it or admit it.
There’s a lot to learn at the intersection of academic subjects. Different fields offer different worldviews, and understanding how they overlap gives us a better understanding of issues. As a liberal arts college, Dartmouth should celebrate the overlap between disciplines and encourage students to seek out an interdisciplinary education.