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I was “that kid” who loved politics as a child. I received my first civic education around my grandparents’ dining room table, discussing local and national politics with my parents, grandparents and cousins, which required me to keep up with the news if I wanted to be able to participate in the discussions. I remember staying up long past my bedtime to watch the returns of the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore and asking my mother what would happen if the election was a tie, a question that was probably a tactic to delay sleep, but one that is humorous and ironic in retrospect. In third grade, I developed an interest in labor history and in middle school, the feminist movement, attempting to understand history to understand the world around me. In short, even as a child, you could call me a political nerd.
For this year’s Winter Carnival issue, we chose to focus on activism at Dartmouth.
Take a look at this story visually:here
Dartmouth has seen its fair share of activism in years past — from the Dimensions protest in 2013 to the Parkhurst sit-in in 2014 to the recent Black Lives Matter protest during fall term. With the increasing calls for social justice, The Dartmouth released a survey to gauge student reactions to activism at Dartmouth and beyond.
Rianna Starheim ’14, avid traveler and human rights activist, believes in equality and freedom of speech. These concepts are pretty simple on paper, she acknowledges, but they are remarkably rare in the world.
As Shonda Rhimes wrapped up her insightful Dartmouth commencement speech back in 2014, she slipped in a little zinger admonishing social media activism — “A hashtag is not helping.”
My freshman fall in 2012, Dartmouth seemed like an unreal experience to me. Even though I knew that the utopia Dartmouth presented to me was not for people like me, I wanted to believe in the dream. It was easier to tell my friends and family back home that Dartmouth was great than to tell them I would rather sleep on the floor next to my mother, grandmother and brother in our studio apartment again than to have my own room and my own bed while living in a space where I felt hyper-invisible and unwanted. I wanted to tell them that I felt more broken and hopeless at this institution then I ever had before. But, I didn’t want to disappoint them because I knew my story, a story of a Black girl from the Southside of Chicago who had gone to Dartmouth, is one that they took immense pride in. So, even though I knew Dartmouth’s utopia didn’t include people like me, I thought that I was going to have the opportunity to make it include people like me. I was wrong.
I am a foreigner. Yes, I may be a citizen and may have been born in the United States, but I am still foreign all the same. I don’t fit the cultural norms of an American society that has constantly tried to shape the person I am, to shape me into a passively obedient, productive member of American capitalism. Yet, for most of my life I have tried. I have tried being quiet, being obedient. I have tried dating women. I have tried maintaining a low profile. And I have tried presenting in a masculine way. None of it helped. I was still a fish out of water, a person floundering in a society not made for them.
Emerging in 2012 from a social media hashtag, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” has become a rallying cry for larger issues related to police brutality, racial injustice and structural oppression that many feel disproportionately affect black communities. Many Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff have answered this rallying cry, participating in protests and demonstrations to stand in solidarity with the BLM movement and against alleged institutional oppression at the College.
Though activism around many issues is present at both Dartmouth and its peer institutions, the focus of this activism differs from school to school. The College, for example, has seen significant dialogue in recent months about race relations and diversity on campus, while students at other Ivy League schools said issues such as sexual assault and mental health occupy the campus spotlight. Similarly, administrative responses to such activism has varied across schools.
On a campus where most students do not stay longer than the usual four years, faculty members who stand with student activists in the push for increased diversity, inclusivity and equality at the College are the drivers of continued dialogue at Dartmouth. In the fall of 2015, following the Black Lives Matter protest in Baker-Berry Library, 150 professors and staff members demonstrated their solidarity with student activists by signing a letter of support addressed to the College administration.
Despite focusing on issues outside the Dartmouth bubble, student groups on campus dedicated to international activism still see high turnout and passionate student interest.
On the hot pursuit of a lost bike,
Dear Governor Bush (or should I call you Jeb?) (or should I really just call you Jeb!),
Dear Freshman Beth,
Humor me, Dartmouth, would you?
Members of an improv group stand on the first floor a fraternity, doing a humorous skit. The audience members are visibly entertained, smiling and laughing. Suddenly, caught up in the moment, a member of the improv group makes a joke that some might deem offensive or politically incorrect. The audience members’ expressions turn to ones of discomfort and distaste, some letting out nervous laughter and others whispering to their friends. Other members of the improv group continue on, glossing over the awkward and tense moment.
Hello, Mirror readers. Congratulations on making it to the weekend and, more importantly, being halfway done with 16W (we can barely believe it either).
Caroline Berens ’18: When I was trying to soften a Pop-Tart in the Fahey-McClane fourth floor kitchen, and I accidentally set the microwave to two minutes instead of twenty seconds. Within a minute the microwave, and then the entire kitchen, were engulfed in smoke, and I spent the rest of the night airing it out so the fire alarm didn’t go off. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it was the next day.
Greetings, Mirror readers. Congratulations on being (nearly) 1/12 done with 2016! (As Hayley writes this, ever-superstitious Caroline yells, “Knock on wood!” and loudly bangs her fist on a nearby table, causing other editors to look up in alarm. Hayley internally rolls her eyes at her younger co-editor’s childish antics.)