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Music has always been a central part of my life. In high school I sang in two choirs, performed in musicals and played the flute in band. Every day I looked forward to rehearsal and music-making with my friends. It was a chance for me to pack up the textbooks and give time to one of my passions.
Under Dartmouth’s 2018 “Telling Our Story” brand image guidelines, the College seeks to position itself as a “basecamp to the world,” where “scholars … love to teach” and “liberal arts [is] at the core.” Reading these three tenets of our identity, it is clear that the College places teaching and education at the center of its mission. And as the guidelines acknowledge, education is a broadly transformative force. At its best, the education system has the potential to expose students to new possibilities and remove their economic prospects from pernicious cycles of poverty. At its worst, the education system discourages critical thinking, reduces self-efficacy and reproduces inequality. With its ability to profoundly shape the development of its students, education deserves to be studied at the most comprehensive and rigorous level.
Partisan rancor and gamesmanship have spilled over into the nation’s highest court. In the past two years, the Republican Party has secured two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom were confirmed after Senate Republicans deployed the so-called nuclear option in 2017, an amendment to Senate rules that lowered the votes needed for cloture from 60 to a simple majority vote. Democrats, now limited by time constraints on floor debates, have decried the processes for both confirmations as unfair, and with good cause. But the solutions proposed by some on the left — which amount to court packing — are at least as threatening to the institution of the Supreme Court. And that should worry us all.
Before matriculating to Dartmouth, I read a book that both terrified and inspired me. “Excellent Sheep” by William Deresiewicz is a sweeping condemnation of elite institutions in the U.S. and the overachieving students that he claims they damaged. Deresiewicz describes a problem that Dartmouth students know all too well: the résumé arms race, the seeking of various accomplishments and the addiction to success for the sake of success. Deresiewicz’s thesis is that, at elite schools, students focus on building a career rather than building a “self,” and that four years later they’re left with a surplus of achievements but a shortage of anything meaningful.
If you have read any of my articles, then you know that I’m no fan of the Greek system. The toxic masculinity, the sexual misconduct, the omnipresent stench of Keystone Lite … I could go on, but I will refrain. Instead, I will look past my feelings about the Greek system and its validity as a space on campus into a future scenario where the College listens to the voices of bleeding-heart feminists who criticize the Greek System. What happens then?
Enter Google Trends, then compare Sri Lanka and Notre-Dame over the past 30 days. The data shows that interest in the term “Notre-Dame” reached its peak popularity 24 hours after that cathedral’s fire. The term “Sri Lanka” also peaked 24 hours after the lethal bombings in that country. But that peak was just a third the size of Notre-Dame’s. How should we interpret these results? Should I ask my statistics professor if cultural proximity is a confounding variable in people’s interest and sympathy?
The AUX cord in my car is broken. I know it’s a not a big deal. I could just listen to the radio. But the thing is, I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to listening to exactly what I want whenever I want. If I am bored with a song by the second verse, then I skip the next one. Or, if I want to discover something new, the geniuses at Spotify have a trusty algorithm for that: They deliver new custom playlists to my account every week. Spotify has created a musical universe that revolves around me, the consumer. And in doing so, Spotify has managed to construct the feeling that the broader universe, beyond just music, sometimes revolves around me too.
Recently, a couple of new restaurants were accused of culturally appropriating Asian food. First, there was Lucky Lee’s, founded by two white restaurateurs: Arielle Haspel, a Manhattan-based health coach and her husband Lee. The concept is Panda Express meets Lilly Pulitzer — over the counter service coupled with blue-jade decor and a logo with chopstick-like font. Lucky Lee’s was branded as “clean” Chinese food that wouldn’t make customers feel “bloated and icky.” Social media backlash was swift and for good reason — Haspel’s choice of promotional words implied that Chinese food is inherently unhealthy and that her restaurant is a solution to this problem. The restaurant and Haspel have since apologized, stating that they now realize that their marketing perpetuated negative stereotypes about the Chinese American community. But the underlying stereotypes about Chinese food — that it is too oily, salty and MSG-laden — remain rooted in the very essence of the restaurant. Despite the apology and modified online advertising, “Feel Great” still appears in large flowy letters over “Chinese Food” on the restaurant’s teal awning. It screams at entering customers that what makes this food special is its objective healthiness compared to regular Chinese food.
I am a student-athlete, and I received one of the “likely letters” that Osman Khan took issue with in his article last Friday in The Dartmouth. I’m not ashamed of that fact, nor am I ashamed that I wasn’t the top student in my high school class. That’s because, despite the derision with which Khan treats student-athletes at Dartmouth, I believe that our college is enriched by a diversity of experiences and abilities. There is a real and meaningful conversation to be had about increasing opportunity for historically disadvantaged groups at institutions of higher education. Unfortunately, this guest column does little to contribute to it.
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.
Given Dartmouth’s proximity to the Connecticut River and the White and Green Mountains, it’s easy to see why the outdoors is such a big part of campus culture. It’s even in our motto, “vox clamantis in deserto” — “a voice crying out in the wilderness.” Almost every student’s first experience with Dartmouth — First Year Trips — is an outdoor one. And that focus on the outdoors continues while back on campus. The Dartmouth Outing Club, the oldest and largest college outing club in the U.S., boasts over 1,500 student members. Students walk around campus clad in flannels and Patagonia jackets and go for runs, hikes and ski trips. This is a campus that clearly values its connection to the outdoors.
I like discussion-based classes. They facilitate closer interactions between students and professors. But judging from my classroom experiences and several conversations with students, the student body is not quite as enthusiastic about discussion-based classroom environments.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate Passover at a professor’s house off campus. During the Seder, I had the opportunity to interact with my professor’s elderly parents and young kids. I participated in lively discussions about world affairs and listened intently to cherished family stories. Importantly, none of these conversations were centered around Dartmouth or dominated by the perspectives of Dartmouth students. If only for one night of food, song and prayer, I escaped the infamous Dartmouth bubble.
To most people walking through Robinson Hall on any given day, Room 110 wouldn’t seem to be anything but ordinary. If anyone did stop by, they might notice that the small, rectangular chamber has a few lopsided old couches and a rickety wooden table accompanied by four creaking chairs and a layer of dust.
On Monday, April 15, people around the world watched as emergency responders struggled to halt the flames tearing apart the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Notre-Dame fire was likely caused by accident. However, in the same month that the cathedral burned, cultural and religious institutions around the world experienced very deliberate attacks. Consider church burnings in Louisiana or the recent terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. The damage to Notre Dame is no doubt a tragedy. But the present destruction of spaces of communal worship reflects a larger and far more concerning pattern throughout history regarding the circumstances that enable some sites to survive and not others.
Solemn crowds of Parisians gathered on April 15 to watch as one of the city’s greatest icons, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, burned. The news sent shockwaves around the world and has prompted immense sorrow for one of the greatest emblems of France and a marvel of Gothic architecture.
We arrive at Dartmouth in all our intensity and meet an equally intense schedule. The D-Plan does not let its presence go unnoticed: It smothers both our academic and social lives. As we are broken into quarters, with breaks in between each quarter, our time here is sectioned off from itself. In my own experience, this makes each term, each parcel of time, feel like its own lifetime. Each quarter seems to have its own narrative arc framed by its clear beginning and its ever-looming end. And that transforms the way we think about our relationships with one another. That said, what I term as the “let’s grab a meal” mindset is a clear case study of the problems that result from this transformation.
On Monday, Luke Cuomo ’20 narrowly defeated Tim Holman ’20 and Sydney Johnson ’20 to become the next Student Assembly president. In what was one of the closest presidential races in recent years, the candidates proposed and defended their respective platforms at Monday night’s debate moderated by The Dartmouth. The candidates largely proposed similar solutions to long-standing campus issues, including the hiring of more counselors at Dick’s House and the adoption of the new United Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.
If you’ve never been to a Supreme Court hearing, I would highly recommend it. There are some things that even recordings miss. I did not learn in my constitutional law class that the justices sit through much of oral arguments with their faces cupped in their palms, eyes almost closed. They behave like bored students in a 9L lecture, bouncing and swiveling in the nation’s most esteemed wheelie chairs. If not for seeing it with my own eyes, I would not have believed that Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas (one liberal and one extremely conservative) could lean back almost out of view of the public and giggle together at their inside jokes.