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I was only 3 years old that day. I was at home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, watching cartoons. An abrupt, loud, repeating noise silenced my show with letters racing across the screen. It said “Emergency” in bold red colors. The screen switched to a news announcement of some sort. That was the first glimpse I had of the twin towers, black smoke covering the tips of the screen. Being an innocent 3 year old, I assumed it was part of the program. At the time, I only knew that Sept. 11 was supposed to be a happy day, but my mother’s birthday had to take the back seat to a large scale terrorist attack.
The United Campus Ministers of Dartmouth College minister to a diversity of students across a broad range of faith traditions. We value our religious diversity. We also value the presence of citizens and non-citizens in our groups.
In my government classes at Dartmouth, there is always “That Guy.” He speaks too loudly, he leans so far back in his chair you wish he would just tip over, he thinks he speaks God’s word and his monologues are long enough to make the professor cut him off.
Every year, Dartmouth accepts a few dozen transfer students. This number usually hovers around 30 to 40 among a pool of approximately 700 applicants. The transfer students come from a vast array of backgrounds, from veterans to varsity athletes. As expected, many of the transfer students come in on a credit deficit, because Dartmouth does not always accept every credit the student has to offer. This can cause transfer students to fall behind, and Dartmouth’s restrictions and protocols only make the situation increasingly difficult for those students.
The other day, I felt compelled to check the website for my high school’s student newspaper. Since arriving at Dartmouth, I hadn’t paid any attention to current events at my old school, and I was curious to see what changed during my first five months at college. Sports highlights, interviews with teachers, movie reviews — typical high school journalism filled the paper, until I stumbled upon an article titled, “Valedictorian and Salutatorian titles will no longer be offered as GPA recognition during graduation.”
One day the sun will blow up, and humanity will cease to be. You and I will have died long before that. In the grand scope of the universe, our lives amount to nothing.
From our comfortable perches atop the 21st century morals that have become our societal bread and butter, it is tempting to look at people from the past and judge them harshly for their actions. In order to satisfy modern standards of inclusivity and tolerance, we whitewash our own history by denouncing former icons as racists and bigots. Past moments of reactionary hysteria have become periods of shame worthy of derision. Too easily do we look back upon these supposed fools of yore, wagging our fingers at their ignorance, smug in our belief that we are above such nonsense.
The email comes back. It’s another “no.” Inboxes fill up with them, from clubs, from jobs, from professors. Many jobs won’t even bother to tell you that you haven’t made the cut, either — a denial through the attrition of time. Dartmouth’s social life is similar, with hoops to jump through to get through the doors of a manse on Webster or a crypt on Wheelock.
I cannot distinguish the political stances of great professors, and I’m lucky enough to still not really know. However, it is no lie or exaggeration that conservative students are drawn to certain courses that reaffirm their views over others and vice versa.
The “WELCOME HOME TWENTIES” sign hanging on Robinson Hall is one of the first things that incoming Dartmouth students see on campus. Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch” and Red Foley’s “Salty Dog Rag” are the first songs that they hear at the beginning of the Dartmouth Outing Club’s First-Year Trips. And Cabot cheese — lots of Cabot cheese — is often the first food that students taste when they arrive in Hanover. But once the busses get back from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, students begin to hear a different trope, a less upbeat and more serious story of the adversities that lie ahead.
Cartoon of the day: the Trump administration shifts its tone to medieval defensive techniques.
Remember five years ago, when the most popular television comedy characters on Saturday Night Live were Bill Hader as Stefon and Kristen Wiig as Gilly? Seth Meyers would introduce Stefon, who would recommend absurd places to go during the weekend, leading the two to end the sketch holding back tears of laughter as Gilly obnoxiously wreaked havoc in her elementary school classroom. Today, lighthearted comedy has evolved into politically centered comedy.
This past Sunday, author and software engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing a horror story of sexual harassment and corporate failure at Uber, the massive ridesharing company. Fowler, who now works at the payment processing company Stripe, had worked for a year as a site-reliability engineer at Uber. A cursory look at her personal website quickly reveals that she’s — to use the industry buzzword — a “rockstar.”
According to statistics from the Department of Defense, fewer than 0.5 percent of Americans serve in the armed forces while less than seven percent of the population have ever served in the military. Of the country’s veteran population, approximately half are over the age of 60. More elected officials in the United States have never served before than at any prior time in our history while the shrinking pool of families that shoulder the burden of armed service are disproportionately generational fighters hailing from middle- and working-class backgrounds.
We all know “The Most Frustrating Man Alive.” He’s the friend who’s social to a fault, can’t concentrate on a single goal without remembering thousands of other things that he has to do and — most dastardly of all — feels the need to talk to you about all of it. One night, my Most Frustrating Man Alive and I were having the same conversation that our interactions always devolve into: a lighthearted argument about whose approach to living at Dartmouth was better, mine or his.
To my friends on the right:
Vice President Mike Pence was apparently among the last people to learn that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied to him about his contacts with Russian operatives. Pence read about Flynn’s deceptions while reading the newspaper. “That’s comforting: at least our next president reads the newspaper,” Seth Meyers quipped.
In a 1963 interview with Life magazine, the newly widowed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy reflected on her husband’s days in the White House. “At night before we’d go to sleep, Jack liked to play some records; and the song he loved the most came at the end of this record.” The record she referred to was the soundtrack of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s broadway musical, Camelot.
If lies, untruths, falsehoods, mischaracterizations and alternative facts were removed from a transcript of everything Kellyanne Conway has said since President Donald Trump assumed office, all that remained would be a picture book-length collection of her saying “good morning” to Sunday talk-show hosts. And even that might be rated less-than-true by the legions of fact-checkers this administration has put to work, because few mornings have been good to the young Trump White House. If the narrative driving the day’s news cycle isn’t the administration and erstwhile campaign’s connections to Russia, it’s Conway’s ethics conflicts stemming from her on-air commercial for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. If the scandal du jour isn’t a botched executive order that is most likely unconstitutional, it’s a shutdown of national parks’ Twitter accounts over an obsessive insistence on the size of the crowd at the inauguration. Critics of the administration have labeled it evil, but even that gives Trump’s team too much credit. America is not being led by a savvy comic-book villain; the highest levels of our government are a clown car with nobody at the wheel.
Following Adele’s Grammy win for Album of the Year this past weekend, my Facebook feed has been filled with long rants and links to pop culture websites about why Beyoncé should have won instead of Adele. Whether I prefer Adele or Beyoncé is irrelevant; it neither influences who I think should be the Grammy winner, nor is my opinion influenced by the results of the Grammy Awards. By overvaluing the opinion of large-scale, corporate institutions that support the arts, we come to have a narrow understanding of what the arts are and lose the chance to form more complex ideas about the arts through our peers and ourselves.