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An unheard and often forgotten voice on Dartmouth’s campus is that of religious communities. Though many students are involved in various religious organizations, the various fellowships and communities tend to keep to themselves, offering a space for students who want it without having a larger voice on campus. That changed on Friday night, when 30 students journeyed around campus offering passing students prayer.
Earlier in this term I gave a d’var — a speech interpreting the weekly Torah portion— at a Hillel Shabbat dinner. The portion started off in typically Biblical fashion with a detailed description of how the High Priest performs services on Yom Kippur. But then we got to the texts’ discussion of sexual morality and commandments that get at the social consciousness that I believe is at the core of Judaism. For me, this portion juxtaposes what attracts me to Judaism and what pulls me away from my Jewish heritage. The prohibitions, the you-shall-nots, the and-you-shall-be-stoned-if-you, et cetera have always seemed constrictive and often problematic. I do believe that we must follow certain moral codes and that religion can be useful in guiding us, but I still struggle with the text. Further, if I chose not to do so and engage with the text intellectually or not at all, how does that change my relationship to Judaism?
As of this week, sophomores on campus have officially “crossed the X.” We’re halfway through our college careers, and it’s only up from here, right? Even though we’ve come this far, however, the road ahead seems a little more serious and a lot more uncertain. Are corporate financiers real people? Am I still pre-med? Should I have taken two classes this term? ‘Success’ in the time of sophomore summer, and at Dartmouth in general, is hard to pin down, but in the midst of it all, take some time to read this issue, cross a few items off your bucket list, and stop to consider other people, because it’s entirely possible that the calm and collected genius gliding along in the class you thought would be a layup is paddling just as furiously underneath the surface as everyone else.
My younger brother came to visit me this weekend. He mentioned to me how happy everyone seemed and how nice, how cool, how fun, how accomplished. Seeing Dartmouth through his eyes reminded me of my first impression of the College. I wanted to come here because everyone seemed so happy and because, frankly, alumni scared me with how much they seemed to love the College.
Jumping in to sophomore summer from an off-term in Pittsburgh, I expected to miss the bustle of the city, the freedom of empty evenings after work and the seemingly endless things to explore. But after six weeks back on campus and back in the dorms, I’m starting to realize that what I’m longing for the most is my dumpy apartment, broken heating and dingy kitchen.
I often live in denial, if not outright fear, of what strangers must think of me when they see my desk for the first time. Small and without decoration or detail, its top is scattered with half-finished novels, pens that ran out of ink months before and crumpled sheets of paper. It is, to the horror of those who live with me, in a constant state of disorder and hysteria — a living piece of performance art depicting the life of the young adult I call myself. I can never quite force myself to part with anything, and new objects find their way into my chaos each day.
I really don’t like crowds. Walking through the dark side of FoCo gives me social anxiety. My walking routes are planned by their level of visibility. But I study in Baker Lobby, and sometimes I wait in the KAF line without my phone to test myself. I guess you could say I’m a bit of a masochist. I still don’t like crowds. My graduating class consisted of 20 people (gasp!), and I’ve accepted the fact that I will forever be averse to social situations in which I must interact with more than 20 people. And that’s why I am loving sophomore summer. Campus is empty, there are no lines, and I know a decent percentage of the student body. But there are still more than 20 people. In some ways, the “shrinking” of campus has forced me to have more social interactions, and I’m weirdly okay with it. Maybe it’s because I feel a sense of freedom from social pressures.
Summer is that special term in which the entire sophomore class gets to bond because there are no other students. Or are there? We asked several non-’17s on campus what it’s like to be in Hanover during sophomore summer.
We’ve come a long way in the two years since Dartmouth Outing Club’s First Year Trips, orientation week and that fateful Sunday when we shook College President Phil Hanlon’s hand and began our Dartmouth careers. Remember when our first friends at Dartmouth were trippees or teammates? Those many evenings we spent with our undergraduate advisors and floormates?
Being on campus means that for the most part we’ve all heard the phrase “facetimey.” The first time I heard this phrase was on the Dartmouth Outing Club’s First Year Trips during a campus tour when one of my leaders remarked that a student was particularly “facetimey.” I had no idea what this meant, nor did I realize that I’d hear this phrase hundreds of times during my Dartmouth career.
This sophomore summer’s course registration period started out exactly like every other term’s —at the last minute I frantically searched for an adequate third class to replace one with too much reading. In a frenzy, I came across a course on friendships and relationships. I was initially hesitant to sign up for this course —would it be worth my time to learn about how to make friends, compared to a class about something more serious or academic? The answer wasn’t as simple as I had thought. Although, in the end, it turned out to be very simple because I realized I couldn’t take this course due to a scheduling conflict. Thank you Registrar! Although we pride ourselves on being the most social Ivy, I feel as though Dartmouth students often take it for granted how hard it is to make friends and how important it is to keep them. If you don’t make a conscious effort to prioritize friends, you run the risk of losing them.
As the members of the Class of 2015 prepare today to embark on the rest of their lives — jobs, service opportunities, enrollments in continuing education in high-up and far-off places — two seats are left vacant, filled only by the flowers in honor of the memories of Blaine Steinberg ’15 and Torin Tucker ’15. But their roles in this community can be described as anything but empty.
Phil Hession ’15
Freshman Year: 2011-2012
Disclaimer: This copycat faux biography — modeled after one our Commencement speaker David Brooks wrote many, many years ago — is unoriginal and possibly professionally reckless, but what do you expect from a youngster like me? These days we aren’t taught to think for ourselves.
My mom visited me halfway through my junior summer, and we brought books and magazines down to the Connecticut River for the afternoon. I fell asleep looking at the lazy current, clouds collecting above, and I woke up dazed, drained. The air was thick and groggy. Thunder rolled in soon after, about a half an hour before we were to drive to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge for dinner. The car’s wheels skidded across the highway several times, and I gripped the car door and my mom’s hand, trying to see through a wet dashboard from the back seat. I couldn’t — and I held my breath — but we made it in time to slather butter on hot bread as the last drops fell. When the sun came up the next morning, the air felt cleaner. I felt like I could think more slowly, carefully.
From a young age we are taught to distinguish between right and wrong. I’m not talking about in the moral sense, but rather the notion that there is a correct way of doing or experiencing particular things. For example, preschool-aged Carla was taught not to put gum in that girl’s hair and that she should always say thank you to the school bus driver. As I check off the final items on my senior bucket list, I can’t help but wonder — did I have the “right” Dartmouth Experience?
This weekend the great Class of 1965 celebrates its 50th Reunion. The Commencement ceremony held in the Leverone Fieldhouse on that rainy Sunday in June of 1965 was the beginning of our voyage as alumni into the adult world of military service, employment, graduate school and many other sorts of adventures, including a contingent who paddled and photographed their way around seas and rivers of the world.
As thousands of green and white chairs begin to cover the Green, members of the Class of 2015 begin to reflect on their four years at the College and prepare themselves for the world outside of Hanover. As the old adage says, each student at the College will have their own Dartmouth experience before their graduation. There are, however, events that undoubtedly affected the lives of almost every student on campus — from national attention coming after the “Rolling Stone” article detailing alleged fraternity hazing to a protest of the Dimensions of Dartmouth show and a sit-in at the President’s Office.