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Senior Spring: My final, prodigal term at Dartmouth College. In a lot of ways, the start to this quarter has felt extremely ordinary: The usual pre-class jitters, luxuriously long Foco dinners with friends recounting every detail of break, neglecting to unpack my suitcase until week two — the list goes on. But as the spring weather brings the shrubbery back to life, my time at the College dwindles away with each new sprouting flower. Speaking technically, as it is currently week two, I am somehow already a fifth of the way through the term.
Just under thirty years ago, Jason Barabas ’93 was a Dartmouth senior working on his honors thesis, playing on the football team and participating in the Greek system. Now, he is back in Hanover serving as the director of the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and teaching in the government department. Barabas is part of Dartmouth’s substantial alumni-to-professor pipeline, made up of academics who return to teach at the College after completing their undergraduate degrees here. I sat down with four of these alumni professors to discuss how they have reconciled their experiences here as students with their current roles as faculty.
Two terms after the projected completion date of Fall 2021, the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society has replaced the tangled maze of pipes and rubble that once blocked so many walks to the River Cluster. Now, the gorgeous glass exterior of the building stands proudly, staring down Baker-Berry Library from the end of Tuck Drive. This is no accident: As the Institute’s website explains, “in the direct view of the Baker Library Tower, the symbolic heart of the College’s liberal arts commitment, the building serves as a nexus of Dartmouth energy and society research, education, and engagement, across all disciplines.”
When I traveled home for spring break, Mill Valley, California no longer felt like mine. Maybe it was the disconcertingly hot weather or the way that my house had a distinct smoky citrus smell like that of a tasteful stranger’s, but something felt distant, removed. Most unnerving was the evident ease with which the town had run in my absence. Tam High had a new set of burnt-out seniors, toiling through the college application process; Greg had hastily hired my replacement — a perky hostess in Chuck Taylors — and my parents had adopted an only vaguely recognizable nighttime routine. Life at home had moved on without me.
Spring is upon us, but unlike the Mirror’s editorial staff, it seems like Hanover weather is not under new management. Each 50-degree day feels like a tease, and last weekend’s first green blossoms find themselves yet again covered in snow. Students are arriving back on campus in droves: some sunburnt, others jet-lagged and almost all unprepared for the First Real Spring since COVID-19.
As I write this article, I’ve just finished unpacking the small suitcase of clothes that I brought home for spring break. My dorm room hasn’t changed much in the last week or so, except for a layer of dust that has accumulated on the top of my chest of drawers. It really does feel like I finished my music final yesterday, rather than two weeks ago. Yet somehow, I’m going to be starting three new classes this week, all vastly different from my courses last term. While I am excited about each of these classes, there’s still a small part of me that feels like winter term just ended. And after how hard I worked, two weeks doesn’t feel long enough.
When I opened social media over spring break, I was instantly greeted by hundreds of pictures of Dartmouth students swimming in crystal clear water, girls in matching bikinis and location tags broadcasting the names of Caribbean islands I’d honestly never heard of before. After spending hours scrolling through picture after picture, I deleted most of my social media apps, unable to look at people’s seemingly perfect vacations for any longer. I was experiencing a classic case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
What are you most looking forward to this spring?
Part of the beauty of Dartmouth lies in its remote location. But at two and a half hours away from the nearest major city, living in the woods also effectively separates students from many of the modern conveniences of the outside world, like easy access to transportation — especially for students without a personal car. At the beginning and end of each term, the question of how to get to and from campus always seems to emerge, and it’s not always an easy problem to solve.
As I rummaged through my overly stuffed wardrobe in desperation, my situation was becoming increasingly dire. How could I possibly attend a formal with not a suit in sight? It was a rash oversight on my part: four days ago at our Mirror meeting, I had volunteered to write an insider’s perspective on Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority’s winter term formal — purely for the sake of journalism. I had, however, failed to consider my lack of any clothes that could be considered “formal.”
College kids getting sick is not a new phenomenon — we live in close quarters, work ourselves too hard and spend our weekends in musty frat basements. This term, the first few weeks were marked with hundreds of Dartmouth students contracting COVID-19. Now, as COVID cases decline, students’ runny noses and coughs remain — in recent weeks, campus has seen an uptick in cases of influenza A.
“Rent,” the theater department’s winter 2022 MainStage production, ran at the Moore Theater from Feb. 18-20 and Feb. 24-27. Though I don’t have experience performing at Dartmouth, in high school, I participated in the musical each winter and as I watched the cast of “Rent” perform, I couldn’t help but wonder how they balanced rehearsals with academics; it was hard enough for me to strike a balance in high school, and as we all know, Dartmouth is much more difficult than high school.
At Dartmouth, going out during the winter is an extreme undertaking. With temperatures that often drop below zero and wind strong enough to invade even the warmest of frackets, only the strongest can survive.
Well folks, this is it. The last editors’ note from the 178th Mirror Editors of The Dartmouth. We think that this final issue calls for breaking the third wall, so here goes: Hello! We are your editors, Novi Zhukovsky and Christina Baris. In case you were curious, we divide up these little notes by alternating week by week; this issue, it’s Novi writing. Well honestly, “writing” is a strong word; I am typing clunky strings of words, only to erase them once again — trying to write perfect sentences, perfect enough to reflect this paper, to display the love and hours we’ve put into these pages. It's an impossible task, and yet, like Sisyphus, I hopelessly continue to put words on paper, in search of a new arrangement that feels right. Maybe, for the first time, I, an editor, am without words.
As everybody struggles to craft the cleverest 22W(ittiest) caption for their end of term photo dump, I’ll be honing my 22W Spotify playlist in lieu of the traditional Instagram post. A carefully curated, digital mixtape encapsulates the blissful chaos of my 22W better than any mirror selfie or photographed pancake platter ever could.
Ah, Mardi Gras. You know, that crazy event that you saw on all of your friends’ Snapchat stories and Instagram posts last week? The one with the green, yellow and purple beads that fly around like heat-seeking boomerangs? Where outrageous floats loom over onlookers and jazz vibrates through the air like a symphony of pure jubilation? It’s amazing to witness the spectacle that Mardi Gras has become — even to simply view its raucous energy over social media and other outlets leaves you questioning what it truly means to “celebrate.”
I’ve eaten alone at Foco in pretty much every place you can imagine, from the long tables on dark side to the couches on the 2nd floor. On most weekdays, you’ll see me blissfully chowing down on my bowls of pasta and salad at some random corner of the cafeteria, with no other students around me and no computer or notebooks to indicate that I am working. You might ask whether this practice is out of necessity, but it’s not — I actually enjoy eating alone.
Many chemistry majors and aspiring doctors hear the words “organic chemistry” and shudder. The completion of CHEM 51 and CHEM 52, “Organic Chemistry,” is a rite of passage for these students — if they can make it through the courses without ruining either their sanity or their GPA, that is. The classes are notorious for their difficulty and recently have been characterized by an especially high number of student withdrawals.
Well, looks like we spoke too soon! Spring has, indeed, not sprung here in Hanover, as evidenced by this week’s heavy snow squall. Leave it to the unpredictable New England weather to keep us on our toes. But there is something almost encouraging about a late-winter snowstorm — something that screams, “You haven’t seen the last of me yet!” Maybe it’s the nostalgic senior in us that has us deriving meaning from meteorological terms we only just learned of (seriously, what even is a snow squall?), or maybe we’re onto something.
In the days leading up to course selection, the traffic to the student-run course review website called Layup List spikes several hundredfold. A repository of student generated wisdom and warnings that spans all the way back to the early 2000s, the website itself is a simple interface that allows students to search for particular classes and see reviews written by their peers, while also giving students the option to rate a course’s difficulty and quality via a rating system. Courses with the lowest rated difficulty earn the right to be called a “layup.”