Last term, we were unfortunate enough to live through a major event in world history. Breaking out less than a month after President Sian Leah Beilock’s inauguration, the war between Israel and Gaza was the first test of Beilock’s nascent administration — a test which it failed. A series of mistakes from the administration following Oct. 7 have inflamed campus tensions and endangered students’ freedom of speech. The administration’s arrest of student protestors and its treatment of the Muslim and Palestinian communities have harmed many students, including myself, and my faith in the administration has sunk to an all-time low.
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In the emotional whirlwind that is applying for college, there is one beacon of hope, one storied institution that promises to make your decision for you: the fabled college ranking. These annual ranking lists claim to be able to empirically determine which colleges are the best and help confused, young students choose their home for the next four years. The data shows that roughly two-thirds of college students consider these rankings, and among students with higher standardized test scores, the figure rises to more than 80%. Despite this attention, rankings such as those provided by U.S. News are a flawed way of evaluating universities and should not be considered by applicants or students.
The hurried scratching of pencils on paper and the monotonous ticking of an analog clock, an agonizing reminder of fleeting time, are the only perceptible sounds in the eerily silent SAT testing room. This classroom might ordinarily facilitate lively academic discussions or debates, but in this instance, it is a vacuum devoid of intellectual curiosity and engagement. Even recounting my own harrowing experiences with standardized testing is enough to put me on edge, a sentiment often echoed by my peers. The grueling process necessary to succeed on behemoth tests left me worn and once led me to naively conclude, as many high school students have, that standardized testing should be scrubbed from the college admissions process.
In April 2023, students at the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies voted to unionize by a vote of 261-33. This vote came after nearly a year of campaigning by the Graduate Organized Laborers of Dartmouth, who had voted to affiliate themselves with the United Electrical and Machine Workers of America in July 2022.
On Oct. 7, the paramilitary wing of Hamas and several other groups situated in Gaza launched an incursion into Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,139 people. In the following days, a barrage of support flooded in. Celebrities pledged their allyship with Israel, the United States approved billions of dollars in funding for Israeli arms, and mainstream news sources reported 24/7 on the events as they unfolded. If you, like many, were underinformed about the situation in the region, it may have seemed that things in the region had been peaceful up until Oct. 7. They had not been. From 2014 to 2022, over 3,559 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces to the tune of relative silence.
New Hampshire’s biggest problems, such as health care access and affordability, the opioid epidemic or the affordable housing shortage, are often so big because they’re bigger than our state. They’re really regional, if not national issues, so of course if we treat them as a state or local issue, they aren’t going to go away as we’d like.
As I am sure we can all agree, many current legislators have an endless supply of stubbornness. The problem is that stubbornness can derail negotiation if used improperly and easily lead to a collapse into extremism. What is most unfortunate is that while the extremes lean heavily into these characteristics, those in the center are often far too timid to get into the rough and tumble of political debate.
Imagine the following: You’re a spectator at the first Olympics in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C. The spectacle of events like running, wrestling and chariot racing is unlike anything ever seen before. However, there is more to the Olympics than a scintillating display of physical ability, mental fortitude and strength; it was conceived to foster a peaceful environment, preventing war between city-states. Sports have since evolved considerably, but one thing that has remained constant is their ability to accelerate the formulation of diplomatic ties, propel people and nations alike out of impoverishment and strengthen multilateral relations.
I am extremely proud of all of my peers who have gone to inspiring lengths to become the first generation in their families to attend college. Indeed, 16% of Dartmouth’s Class of 2026 consists of first-generation college students. This group of students has faced unique challenges to get here, and it is imperative that they are supported and feel welcome at this institution. At the same time, new programming for students who aren’t first-generation but may not have had access to robust college preparation resources could help fill a gap for others who would also greatly benefit.
While the College has announced plans to build a complex at 25 West Wheelock Street to house 250 to 300 students, improvements are still necessary in older dorm buildings across campus. President Sian Beilock certainly is addressing the needs of students with her inaugural pledge to build 1,000 beds in the next decade, but the College cannot forget about its existing buildings. As long as students are still stuck living in older dorm buildings, the integrity of these facilities should be prioritized.
In the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled to end race-conscious admissions within higher education, another admissions policy is currently under fire. Legacy admissions have come under scrutiny due to their historical tendency to favor affluent, white students disproportionately and often at the expense of Black, Asian, Native American and Hispanic students, which is a valid argument. A considerable number of Dartmouth’s peer institutions decided to sunset legacy admissions prior to the ruling. These institutions include, but are not limited to, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amherst College, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan. Each institution made the decision independently, but at the core of their decisions lies a shared belief that legacy admissions constitute a discriminatory policy.
Sunrise Dartmouth, a student advocacy group on campus, recently released the “Dartmouth New Deal,” a document outlining broad demands of the College. The terms are wide-ranging, including sustainability efforts, financial aid, community outreach, Indigenous student relations and much more. These recommendations contain many good ideas to improve the Dartmouth community significantly, but many of its provisions are vague, impractical or financially arduous. These issues undermine the New Deal’s efficacy, and it does not represent the best way to improve Dartmouth.
Out-of-state donations to state and local campaigns are growing out of control. In 2022, 64.8% of donations to Senate races and 43.5% of House races were from out-of-state. In N.H. Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan’s Senate campaign, 87.91% of the donations were from out-of-state. In other words, only 12.09% of Maggie Hassan’s funds were from her constituents. In 2022, the Republican Arizona Secretary of State nominee, Mark Finchem, received 55% of his funding from out-of-state donors. Last year, New York billionaire Micheal Bloomberg donated almost $29 million to support a California ballot measure on flavored tobacco products. In the 2022 East Baton Rouge Parish School Board elections, out-of-state donations and outside spending accounted for $1.9 million of the $2.4 million spent financing nine school board races, or around 80% of the total expenditures. The resulting out-of-state influence on state and local elections is an unacceptable disruption to democracy and federalism.
The first thought you may have about this article is that the title leans on cliche. I would agree with you. But unfortunately, this cliche — that even the smallest can make fundamental change — must be repeated in our present day. It seems too often that students forget how important their voices can be. Indeed, we have a great privilege to be attending one of the greatest educational institutions in the world, and we have an obligation to act on that. I’m sure your professors have told you so numerous times over. Today, I want to illustrate a historical example of this cliche to show that it is absolutely true.
If you’ve ever been outside for any significant amount of time on Dartmouth’s campus, it's likely you’re familiar with the concept of littering. And if you’ve spent any time engaged with the idea of litter, there’s a particular image that comes to mind of the people who do it. The careless, lazy slob who tosses their trash wherever they see fit, regardless of how it affects the world around them. Considering how disgusting, frustrating and detrimental litter can be, it’s no surprise that those who do it are judged so harshly. Seeing the place you spend every day dirtied up can be an immensely annoying experience. However, rather than quietly accepting the presence of litter on Dartmouth’s campus, the student body and staff should take steps to reduce it.
This past summer, FEMA allocated more than $14 million in flood relief to Vermont residents. In the town of Barre, Vermont, floodwaters from a branch of the Winooski river destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses and livelihoods. And yet, the non-profit Friends of Winooski River has plans to remove several dams in the Winooski watershed. As of 2021, more than 140 dams have been removed from Vermont’s waterways.
In 2021, Dartmouth formally announced its intention to fully divest the endowment from fossil fuel companies. The decision followed years of student activism and placed the College among Brown University, Cornell University, Columbia University and Harvard University in making similar commitments. These universities are hardly alone in the divestment trend. According to the pro-divestment Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitment Database, nearly 1,600 institutions with combined assets over $40 trillion have committed to fully or partially divest from fossil fuels.
It seems like one topic of conversation that all Dartmouth students can agree on is that Dartmouth Dining is ripping us off. From high prices at cafes and other alternative dining locations to being forced into the Class of 1953 Commons for every meal on the weekends, many Dartmouth students would agree that they would like to see change in the dining services offered on campus.
We, as Jewish students, share in our tremendous grief for the loss of life suffered in Israel and Gaza over the last several weeks. Many of us watched in horror as our friends and family were bombarded by rocket fire; we wept at the murder of innocent civilians and prayed for the safety of our brothers and sisters in captivity. As the members of Hillel and Chabad are diverse in their perspectives on the complex issues facing the Middle East, it is neither our place nor our responsibility to take a political stance on behalf of Dartmouth’s Jewish community.
The tradition of student protest at Dartmouth is one that has deep roots throughout the history of colleges and universities the world over, and often involves disparate movements that otherwise would have little in common. That is, with the exception of one thing: Students made their voices heard as a result of it. Now, in the modern day, when — thanks to social media — we can feel more disenchanted than ever before, it’s important to remember the history of student protests and their value as a part of campus life.