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On April 4, The New York Times featured the article “College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are,” written by Nicholas Casey. Casey juxtaposed the lives of two students studying at Haverford College, one who “sat at a vacation home on the coast of Maine,” and the other who had to “keep her mother’s Puerto Rican food truck running.” I applaud Dartmouth’s decision to make spring term credit/no credit to accommodate students who, like the New York Times story pointed out, must work a job or care for their family. However, social class and alleviated academic pressure aside, the online learning experience has not measured up to Dartmouth’s traditional classroom setting.
Dartmouth’s decision to institute a credit/no credit grading system has not been without controversy. Yet regardless of one’s views on the matter, it cannot be denied that the decision came from a well-intentioned place — primarily aimed at providing equity for the student body. At this point, the policy has been implemented, and it’s in our interest to focus on making the new system work effectively.
When Dartmouth announced its intention to host the entire spring term online, many students and professors were both disappointed and anxious. It was nearly impossible to imagine how the Dartmouth experience would translate to a remote format. As expected, attending Dartmouth virtually has not been the same as the on-campus experience. However, in our first week and a half of remote learning, professors have been remarkably innovative and accommodating. The online format, and the hard work of professors to make it work well, have allowed many students to continue their education relatively smoothly in spite of the challenges of learning from home. If Dartmouth can accommodate all 6,500 of its students learning in a remote format with only three weeks’ notice, the College should be able to offer a remote option for undergraduates who might need to take a term at home in the future.
Dartmouth’s enactment of a mandatory credit/no credit grading system was met — perhaps surprisingly — with widespread frustration among students. Students have cited various issues with this new system, including the lack of opportunity to raise one’s grade point average or to show achievement in a particular course. This reaction is a testament to the strong work ethic of Dartmouth students. While it’s natural for high-achieving, aspirational students to feel lost in a class without the incentive of an A, we don’t have to see things that way. Instead, now’s the chance to view the credit/no credit grading system as an opportunity to embrace learning for its own sake and — as too infrequently happens at Dartmouth — to focus on our passions without the stress of grades.
Panic over COVID-19 has incited racist responses by some Dartmouth students, but anti-East Asian sentiment on campus is nothing new.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing life across the world, and Dartmouth is no exception. The past month has brought sweeping changes to the College — campus facilities are now all but closed, with coursework reduced to a credit/no credit, remote format. Some of these policies, like the decision to move spring term to remote learning, are generally recognized as necessary given the realities of the public health crisis. Others — like charging full tuition — have received much less support from the student body. But in all of Dartmouth’s policy changes in response to COVID-19, one thing stands out: the College’s failure to take students’ voices into account.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a public health issue. The outbreak has upended many aspects of our lives. It has exposed the realities of class disparity, highlighting unequal access to resources like food and housing. In the face of this crisis, many people have had to turn to unions, rent strikes and community organizing for survival.
Dartmouth recently decided to suspend standard grading for the upcoming spring term and move all courses to a credit/no-credit grading system. We urge the Dartmouth administration to reverse this decision. The College’s argument is fallible, peer institutions have moved to more flexible grading systems and there will be a detrimental effect on post-graduate opportunities as a result of the new policy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented changes to Dartmouth. Following the College’s move to remote instruction, most students — including The Dartmouth's staff and directorate members — have vacated campus and returned home for the spring term. In order to accommodate these new and uncertain circumstances, The Dartmouth will pause print production for the duration of the term.
In response to the spread of COVID-19, Dartmouth joined with peer institutions and announced that its entire spring term would be conducted remotely. This move, although disappointing for many, should be considered a necessary step in securing the wellbeing of Dartmouth students and residents of the Upper Valley. However, in moving to online instruction, the College must continue to prioritize the educational success of its students. One way to do this is to institute a mandatory pass/fail grading system for the spring term. Here, I echo the sentiments of The Daily Princetonian’s Editorial Board and of the student-run National Intercollegiate COVID-19 Coalition and urge Dartmouth to take that step.
The past few weeks haven’t been easy for anyone. In that short span, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 went from a far-away news story to a dominating fact of life for members of the Dartmouth community. Spring term is greatly curtailed, with all classes to be conducted online. Campus life is severely diminished. Among other restrictions, all Dartmouth-sponsored travel is banned, students are effectively forbidden from returning to campus and emails arrive daily bearing stricter and stricter regulations.
The coronavirus is here. What for so long seemed like something far away — in Wuhan, then the rest of China, then Korea and Italy and Iran — has made its presence clear in the Upper Valley. Two employees at DHMC have come down with COVID-19, the new coronavirus that has the world watching with bated breath. What’s more, New Hampshire’s patient zero ignored advice to self-quarantine and attended a Tuck School of Business social event last Friday, meaning that some number of community members may have been exposed to the virus.
Last week, Daniel Bring ’21 and Alexander Rauda ’21 wrote an apology in The Dartmouth in response to the criticism they received regarding their handling of the College Republicans’ attempt to bring U.S. Senate candidate Bryant “Corky” Messner to campus. The vast majority of the criticism they received focused on the inflammatory subject line “They’re bringing drugs…,” which introduced the campus-wide email inviting students and other members of the Dartmouth community to the event with Messner. While their apology is appreciated and long overdue, their removal from positions of leadership will likely do little to ameliorate the polarization plaguing this campus.
Former vice president Joe Biden isn’t a favorite among Dartmouth students. Mention his name, and you often elicit groans. He’s old, the line goes. He’s forgetful and stumbling. He’s Uncle Joe. In a recent poll by The Dartmouth, Biden attracted just 5.7 percent support among Dartmouth students planning to vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary — that’s less than Andrew Yang received. In many of the informal exit polls that spread through campus group chats on Election Day, Biden wasn’t even listed as an option.
There are few things more essential to the modern student’s academic life than Wi-Fi. Just checking Canvas to view assignments or downloading video lectures for flipped classes — let alone conducting online research — requires uninterrupted Internet access. Dartmouth students are certainly no exception to this rule. But despite the fact that the College requires students to own laptops and the general necessity of Wi-Fi for academic work, the only consistent thing about campus Wi-Fi is its unreliability. And unfortunately, not all students navigate the problem of poor Internet access equally.
As this newspaper reported last Friday, Dartmouth Dining Services has decided to eventually implement biometric scanners at the Class of 1953 Commons, the College’s main dining hall. Jon Plodzik, the head of DDS, extolled the virtues of scanners at the entrance, calling the technology a “game changer” that would reduce lines at ’53 Commons. What’s more, Plodzik justified the presumably expensive scanners as a means to ensure “better utilization of resources.”