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One thousand, five hundred and forty-two high school seniors from almost every corner of the world opened their acceptance letters to Dartmouth on March 30. While they rejoiced, eager to become members of the Class of 2021, around 18,000 others were met with the words, “We regret to inform you…” For an 18-year-old, rejection from an elite university can be crushing. For years, academic institutions have indoctrinated their students with an obsessive desire for validation and an aversion to failure beginning from a young age. But what those students do not know is that the colleges and universities of their dreams are victims of the same systematic fear of rejection.
Last month, state representative Kim Hendren introduced Arkansas House Bill 1834 into the Arkansas state legislature. Its goal was to ban all of the late professor Howard Zinn’s articles and books from being used in public and open-enrollment public charter schools in Arkansas.
The experience of returning to Dartmouth as a junior is somewhat jarring. Most ’18s have realized, hopefully, that we will be leaving soon, and many will have gotten a taste of what will come next — probably through an internship where they brushed up against the previously inviolable Adult World. Part of what makes this experience more poignant than past work is the understanding that college will end soon.
“Hey, how are you?” “I’m good!” “How was your off term?” “It was really nice. It feels good to be back though.” “That’s good. Grab a meal?” “Yes! What’s your class schedule?” “I have a 10, an 11 and a 3B.” “How about lunch after 11s next Wednesday?” “Sure!”
Unlike its Ivy League peers, Dartmouth is not situated in the great northeastern cities or suburbs. Yet, it is in this setting that we can best embody the spirit of those who have come before us: that of a small liberal arts college, with an undergraduate focus, where faculty and students work closely together and where learning is pursued for its own sake.
The end of this spring term will mark the first year of Moving Dartmouth Forward’s full implementation on campus. Despite the establishment of flagship policies such as the budding housing system and the hard alcohol ban, students seem to have adapted when MDF affects us and forgotten its existence when it does not.
I never go on shopping sprees, but on a whim, I bought a black California Fleece sweatshirt and a grayish trench coat from American Apparel following the announcement of its closing. I will miss their black turtlenecks, thigh high socks and soft t-shirts; to some extent, I’ll even miss their controversial advertisements. Yet, when I lamented the death of American Apparel and expressed my ensuing urgency to buy more clothing before it closed, one of my friends said, “Clara, how could you?” Because of the sexual assault allegations against former American Apparel executive Dov Charney and the apparent sexism of American Apparel advertisements, I have been forced to call my American Apparel clothing “Problematic Faves.”
It was 4 a.m., and I was in the Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab when I again found myself in what I’ve dubbed “the limbo.” I had a 10A and a 2A, an application for an internship to submit at midnight, a presentation to put together, tasks to do for my job, a column to write, homework to catch up on and of course, sleep. The magnitude of the amount of work I had to do paralyzed me — instead of making a decision about which task I would tackle next (or not), I sat on the couch and gave in to a feeling of complete helplessness.
The first installment of this series posited a divide between freedoms the United States purports to afford its citizens and the actual ways in which pervasive, structural features of American life restrict opportunities for those citizens. Perhaps the most important manifestation of this divide is in the American education system. Vast inequities in the quality of primary and secondary education across district lines, stemming from the fundamental ways the United States has understood the burden of educating its youth, beget vicious cycles of poverty. The rising cost of a college degree, necessary for any job that might propel one to a higher socioeconomic stratum, means the rich benefit while the poor grapple with either debt or ignorance.
Every year, soon after welcoming a new class of eager and wide-eyed freshmen, Dartmouth releases a report on its demographics. In recent years, these reports boast increasingly high percentages of students of color, students who attended public schools and international students. The admissions board and administration congratulate themselves for admitting such diverse classes. At the same time, they turn their backs on what Dartmouth’s community looks like for these students once they actually step foot on campus.
President Trump's climate policies are an unwelcome gift.
Last year’s Presidential election brought out the fundamental flaws in America’s two-party system. Establishment Democrats and Republicans alike were seen as being status-quo and in bed with big business, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The success and popularity of populist insurgent presidential candidates, including now-President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was largely an effect of their loud antagonism toward the Washington establishment, corruption and big money.
Believe it or not, it is already week two. We trudged through a snowstorm for April Fools’ Day, forced our livers back into full gear over the weekend and wound up again with dark circles underneath our eyes again. Things are starting to get serious – as we finally settle into our classes, we now have to catch up on our readings, pay attention to our professors and start working for the midterms and assignments coming up. This stressful consciousness of our impending workload could not be more different from the cushy, carefree first week most of us experienced as we “shopped” for classes but didn’t necessarily do work for them.
Four hundred and twenty-two New Hampshire residents died of drug overdoses in 2015, the second-highest rate, in percentage terms, of any state. Nearly 500 died from overdoses in 2016. Our state’s residents are dying painful deaths, and the primary driver of these deaths are opioids.
Over the last century, we have seen a blossoming expansion of human rights across race, age, class, sexuality and gender. Once upon a time, three-fourths of all people were enslaved, but human slavery is now illegal in every country in the world. In his tour de force “The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” Steven Pinker documents in painstaking detail how the murder rate has fallen since the Middle Ages by almost 95 percent, how child abuse has halved since the 1990s and how the rate at which animals are harmed during the production of movies has fallen by 90 percent since the animal rights revolution in the 1970s.
My spring breaks are notoriously uneventful, mainly due to my own lack of energy and creativity when it comes to planning cheap, fun and short outings. However, after many days of laying in bed, I was lucky enough to have friends that got tickets for the recently revived Broadway show, “Miss Saigon.”
People in America care — or profess to care — about freedom and personal liberty, perhaps more than any other group of people in recorded history. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution, the fundamental document from which each statute and protection in American law stems and whose tenets it must not violate, putatively exists to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Political and patriotic rhetoric, generally purporting to speak for “true” Americans and “true” America, centers on the freedoms that Make Us Special. United States foreign policy from George F. Kennan to Donald Rumsfeld has held the liberation of oppressed places and people from the chains of tyranny into the warm embrace of capitalism and democracy as its guiding ideal.
Before spending the winter term in Paris, everyone I had spoken to who had gone on a study abroad program had sworn by the life-changing wisdom and experience they had gained. I did not believe them. I knew that, just like most statements by Dartmouth students, those opinions were hyperbolized, omitting the negatives while exaggerating the positives, creating the illusion of satisfaction or happiness despite what exists beneath the surface. I would not say that I was right, but I was not wrong either.
Note to readers (April 6, 2017): When The Dartmouth learned that guest columnist Mary Sieredzinski ’17’s article was identical in places to those published in several other college newspapers that originated with publicity officials at Teach for America, we decided to remove it from our website.
Throughout the 2016 election cycle, President Donald Trump’s claim that the election would be “rigged” was dismissed by political commentators and elected officials as fanciful and improbable. However, examining the impact of stripped voter protections, it’s clear that the election was, in fact, rigged. The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder seriously weakened the Voting Rights Act before Americans went to the polls on Nov. 8, which disproportionately targeted and disenfranchised lower-income Americans and people of color — communities that are statistically more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Looking at these restrictions, we can see that the political battles regarding voting rights have serious implications for Dartmouth students.