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In a recent Verbum entitled “Symbolic Sustainability,” The Dartmouth Editorial Board derides the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign as performative activism that undermines Dartmouth’s other environmental initiatives. This argument is misguided. Here’s why.
Dartmouth students aren’t so great at most of the sports they play. Not on a national level anyway. Barring specific winter sports, which we often excel in, as well as a few other exceptions, our athletic performance isn’t anywhere near as impressive as our alumni’s professional and academic showings are. Don’t argue with that; the last time our roughly 100-man football team produced an NFL player was a full 15 years ago, and the last time our basketball team produced an NBA player was in 1990. And yet, we hand out some of the most coveted seats in higher education to recruits in the name of upholding the strength of our athletic programs: over a fifth of the current student body is comprised of varsity athletes.
In the wake of last month’s horrific massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, all of the usual media phrases and buzzwords that have grown so familiar and tired were put back into circulation. First came the expressions of shock and sorrow, peppered with words like “unimaginable” that have not been applicable for a long time. Then came the discussion of the responsibilities of the news media, wherein a number of very serious-sounding people have the same conversation about not showing the video of the shooting for what seems like the 30th time.
During the college application period, some parents support their children by reassuring them that hard work and good grades can get them into a good college. Other parents decide to support their children in a more unconventional way. Thirty-three wealthy parents, including Felicity Huffman from “Desperate Housewives” and Lori Loughlin from “Full House,” were recently involved in what the case’s prosecutors referred to as the “largest college admission scam” ever. These parents spent anywhere from $200 thousand to $6.5 million to get their kids into elite colleges such as Georgetown, Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California.
People often don’t fully process deaths when they occur in wholesale numbers. Fifty Muslims killed. Men and women, young and old. Mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. Someone will have to tell a mother that her son was killed. She will probably have spent a few hours frantically calling his cellphone after seeing the news coverage.
On Oct. 23, 2018, the Dartmouth College Republicans hosted controversial speaker David Horowitz in an event titled “Identity Politics and the Totalitarian Threat from the Left.” Horowitz, founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, has a history of comparing Muslims to Nazis and believes that universities brainwash students with leftist propaganda. The talk received numerous protestors. Some highlights of the event included Horowitz stating that “the only serious race war in America is against white males” and telling a student “I wouldn’t help you if you were drowning” in response to being told that black Americans do not need his help.
On Feb. 16, 2019, professor emeritus of English Jeffrey Hart passed away at the age of 88. We are not writing to rehash professor Hart’s achievements or contributions to the conservative movement, but rather to decry the treatment that Hart has received after his death. The late professor was a man who valued consistency of thought, and took the issues of his time seriously, but never himself. The former brought him to support then Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election (and later again in 2012), as Hart believed the Republican party had lost the intellectual seriousness that he himself undoubtedly contributed; after all, “successful government by either Democrats or Republicans has always been, above all, realistic.” The latter was exemplified by his carrying of a “motorized wooden hand [he] used to drum on the table when faculty meetings went on too long.”
What is Trips? That’s a big question. Trips is, among other things, an entirely student-run program, a chance to welcome first-years to Dartmouth, a challenge, a community, an unrealized dream, the reason I personally chose Dartmouth and a logistical endeavor requiring over 3,214 eggs.
In their Feb. 12 Opinion Asks series, writers for The Dartmouth opinion staff unanimously condemned Dinesh D’Souza ’83 and the Dartmouth College Republicans for inviting him to deliver a lecture sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation, a seminal organization for young conservatives. Moreover, in its Feb. 22 Verbum Ultimum on minority identities, The Dartmouth editorial board proclaimed that Dartmouth is an institution “where conservatives invite individuals such as Dinesh D’Souza ’83 who spread hateful and intolerant ideas.” Notice that these writers fail to adhere to a journalistic maxim: support all claims with evidence. These two articles are part of a trend that I have observed among many students belonging to the Dartmouth left, some of whom are writers for and editors of the ostensibly conservative publication The Dartmouth Review. These individuals lambast Mr. D’Souza as a poor representative of American conservatism, to which I would quote National Review’s Jonah Goldberg and say, “If D’Souza is a ‘phony conservative,’ it’s hard to know who the real deal is.” Further, it is conceited to believe the College Republicans invite speakers solely to evoke a reaction from the Dartmouth left.
The offensive remarks and actions made by Dinesh D’Souza ’83 are so numerous that I can only begin to break down a few of his most egregious ones. I feel it is important to do so because many of D’Souza’s supporters seemed baffled that anyone would dare to claim he is a racist or a homophobe, even though his ideology is deeply rooted in provoking outrage with his offensive remarks. D’Souza proudly makes his shocking comments on his social media platforms and in his books, such as “Letters to a Young Conservative,” which I will be referencing throughout this piece. It appears that D’Souza is thrilled to capitalize off of controversial and hateful stances in order to gain more attention and followers. Perhaps I am feeding into his desires by putting the spotlight on him in this piece, but nonetheless I find it important not to let his dark past fade away from the public eye.
As winter term comes to an end, it’s as good a time as any to review the speakers the Dartmouth College Republicans have exposed our school to over the past two quarters: David Horowitz, Tawfik Hamid and Dinesh D’Souza ’83. The Dartmouth College Republicans speaker line-up responds to the age of post-truth unprincipled politics and amoral Republicanism with, “Yes, let’s do that.” Instead of inviting respected Republicans or policy analysts, the College Republicans have scraped the very bottom of the modern media landscape’s fringe punditry to produce a remarkable lineup of bigots and hacks. But let me back up my argument with facts — a novel idea to the men on the above list.
Like all faculty, staff and postdocs, I received my email summons to complete mandatory Title IX training, as directed by College President Phil Hanlon and the College in response to the student lawsuit against faculty and the College stemming from alleged sexual misconduct of three male faculty in the psychological and brain sciences department. By a certain logic, this obligation makes me yet another link in the chain of the exploitative side of Dartmouth’s culture, in this case as it concerns labor practices. Exploring this link may point to deeper fixes for campus culture.
Updated Jan. 31, 2019 at 1:44 p.m.
In its Verbum Ultimum on Jan. 25, The Dartmouth editorial board asserted that “The [Rockefeller] Center must recommit to its original guiding mission.” The contention in the editorial is that “much of the Rockefeller Center’s identity has been constructed around the notion of ‘leadership.’” In this response, I will explain why the second of these assertions is true but the first is not. I will also argue that rather than being a detraction from the liberal arts experience at Dartmouth, leadership programs of the sort offered at the Rockefeller Center are an essential element of Dartmouth’s mission to prepare its students for “a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership.”
As the country reflects on allegations of sexual assault against a young, drunk Brett Kavanaugh, I cannot help but think about my own college days at Dartmouth in the late 1990s. I did not sexually assault anyone, but I can see how it could happen and wish I knew then what I know now.
I own a cap that was passed down to me by a sorority sister. Neatly sharpied on the inside of the brim, it says, “When you love an institution, you should consistently question its value for the sake of its own validity.” I was probably not allowed to keep this hat, but it somehow made its way with me to Washington D.C., a city that I moved to less than six months ago. With the the controversy surrounding Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh happening right where I call home now, and for many other reasons, I have not been able to get much sleep — nor this quote out of my head.
For the linguist J. L. Austin, an utterance can be constative and/or performative. That is, it can simply make a descriptive statement or it can actually perform the articulated action. Austin would judge the performative speech act by its degree of “felicity”: an utterance should be considered “happy” if the action actually takes place and “infelicitous” if not. At Dartmouth, it is hard to make felicitous utterances –– i.e. to make something happen just by saying it. For example, many would say “let’s have a meal soon” to others, without ever having one. Similarly, when one says “I will study with my friends on FFB,” one will not necessarily study while sitting there. But on this campus, when one announces to the world that “I’m going to get wasted hard tonight,” one will almost certainly manage to look wasted hard that evening. This felicitous speech act, once uttered, guarantees students a rare kind of happiness.
The Dartmouth Coach slowed as it approached the curb of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, crushing the small remnants of snow beneath its tires. As I stepped off the bus, the sun speared its light through the clouds, and the slight breeze carried the faint fragrance of flowers. I took in a deep breath and I stood with hope, eager for the opportunity of a great spring term that lay ahead.