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The entire Dartmouth community is yearning to break free of the COVID-19 pandemic and make the long-awaited return to in-person classes. Yet, as we emerge from the pandemic, we can’t return to what we knew as “normal.” Before last spring, what might have been seen as classroom norms in fact presented barriers that prevented many students from fully thriving academically. Though by no means perfect, some changes brought about by the pandemic — such as recorded content and lenient course policies such as forgiving absences and alternative participation methods — greatly augmented students’ ability to participate in their classes. Come fall, these improvements must be carried over into the new school year to make Dartmouth more academically accessible for every student.
State legislatures get the short end of the stick when it comes to news coverage. Most national newspapers and TV channels naturally have their eyes glued on Washington, D.C. rather than attempting to monitor all 50 state capitals scattered across the U.S. Regardless of how closely people are watching them, state capitals are endowed with great powers.
Less than an hour after polls closed in Hanover’s 2021 Town Meeting, news broke that David Millman ’23 had lost his campaign for Selectboard. His campaign deserves tremendous credit for trying to get a student onto the governing board of this town — and for driving engagement with key local policy issues among the student body.
My name is Nancy Carter and I am a candidate for the Hanover Selectboard. I appreciate your support and would like your vote today.
Today, please make the time to participate in Hanover’s Town Meeting at the Dewey Field Parking Lot. Hanover residents will have the opportunity to vote by official ballot for town officers and four articles. Residents will also have the opportunity to attend the Business Meeting, starting at 7 p.m., to discuss and vote on articles six through 21, which pertain to matters such as the annual budget, bridge bonds and the Community Power Plan. I’m running for Selectboard to continue to support the pandemic recovery, ensure the successful re-evaluation of properties, encourage good planning and improve communications.
Throughout this pandemic, there’s been a theme.
Since November of last year, the Ethiopian military has been at odds with insurgent forces in the country’s northernmost state of Tigray. Stirred by an increasing sense of ethnic nationalism, the current fighting has led many to call for the state’s independence. While the state is functionally independent as is, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has declared its willingness to formally and permanently part with Ethiopia if the violence continues. However, whether the world will accept an independent Tigray is a difficult question to answer. Self-determination has consistently been the subject of controversy in international relations, especially because the United Nations charter does not contain any clear and certain guidance on the topic. In one section, it claims to support the “self-determination of peoples,” and presumably the right of people to become independent — while in another, pouring cold water on any sort of secession, forbidding infringements “against the territorial integrity … of any state.” These respective articles have been used in the past to justify both pro- and anti-independence viewpoints, leaving conflicts with no clear path to peace. The U.N. Charter must be updated to resolve this contradiction once and for all.
This past June, the Supreme Court handed its latest victory to religious interests in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the most recent in a series of rulings expanding the scope of freedom of religion under the First Amendment. The Court unanimously sided with Catholic Social Services, an organization that did not recognize marriages between same-sex partners and refused to certify them as foster parents, allowing the organization to retain their place as an official foster service provider for Philadelphia. The case is yet another in the trend of organizations, corporations, and individuals using religious liberty to justify discrimination — over the past decade, an unprecedented series of ‘wins’ for religious freedom have threatened some protections against employment discrimination, allowed the refusal of service to LGBTQ+ people and weakened access to reproductive healthcare. We as a society must more specifically define what religious freedom is and is not and combat its use to harm marginalized communities.
This past academic year, Dartmouth students have endured an unprecedented period of hardship and loss. Alongside the pandemic, which forced many students to go through the academic year relatively isolated from campus and their peers, students faced the loss of four of their peers — three of which were the result of suicide, according to reporting from The Dartmouth and the Boston Globe. These losses spurred outrage among students over the lackluster nature of Dartmouth’s mental health infrastructure, which many have blamed for creating an environment that does not adequately support students who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
Dartmouth is experiencing a mental health crisis, but it’s not just us: college students nationwide experienced higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in 2020 than in 2019. The pandemic has only exacerbated existing strain on college counseling centers. Something has to change.
In the best of times, Dartmouth’s 10-week term is notoriously demanding — it’s nearly impossible for most students to focus on anything other than their academics. In the worst of times, the intensive Dartmouth schedule is nothing short of debilitating. Students’ schedules leave little room for anything to go wrong, so if — or when — that happens, they struggle to balance their personal situations and mental health with the omnipresent pressures of life at Dartmouth. And sometimes, things go wrong for nearly everyone, especially when tragedy strikes on campus. Many would expect the College to be sympathetic to students in such situations, but too often, it is not. At best, Dartmouth ignores students’ cries for help; at worst, the College exacerbates their problems. When the situation calls for it — when events make it impossible for academics to be a student’s top priority — the College must recognize reality and give students a break from classes.
On June 14, Dartmouth students received an email from the Office of Residential Life stating that “as expected, demand [for housing] has exceeded our capacity.” So began a student scramble to find off-campus housing for the fall. The most alarming part of this crisis was just how predictable it was — housing has been in short supply for years. The administration has ignored the need for more housing for nearly two decades, and the Town has failed to implement simple measures that would enable more students to live off campus. The solution is easy: both must immediately prioritize the construction of more housing units.
As the world reacted to the unknown and unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, Dartmouth adopted a set of policies, excerpts and descriptions of which were sent to us by several anonymous professors. These policies, designed to continue through summer 2021, were intended to offer stability and enable students and professors to plan for the coming terms, despite the daunting uncertainty ahead. To their credit, Dartmouth turned on a dime and steadied the ship.
It is no secret that the College is facing a housing crisis: “As expected, demand has exceeded our capacity,” a recent email from associate dean of residential life Michael Wooten stated bluntly. Far from attempting to permanently resolve the problem presented by the lack of student housing, the administration instead sought to find short-term solutions — such as the “one-time lottery incentive” — for the long-term issue. This situation is only exacerbating Dartmouth’s poor performance in creating a socioeconomically diverse student body. In order to create a truly diverse and equitable student body, as it claims to value, the College must begin by solving the housing problem.
About midway through my senior spring term, I took a trip to the PetSmart in West Lebanon to pick up a pet snail. I had deemed snails, due to their low-maintenance nature, the perfect animal companion for whatever transition from college to actual adulthood awaited me, and my sights settled quickly upon a yellow, nickel-sized, relatively active specimen. I named him Snoople — Snoople the Snail.
I am the former Production Executive Editor of The Dartmouth. I served in that role from March 2020 through to my retirement this March. My tenure coincided with one of the darkest moments in this College’s history.
In 2013, shortly before the last conflict between Israel and Gaza, the population of Israel’s West Bank settlements stood at just under 325,000 people. Eight years later, by the start of the most recent conflict — an 11-day war that claimed the lives of more than 200 — the population has surged to 475,000, and in the process, thousands of Palestinians have been displaced and seen their homes destroyed. Though last month’s conflict was centered in Gaza, where Israel has no outposts, the violence was precipitated by Israeli police raids and crackdowns on Palestinian protests — including protests against planned evictions of Palestinian residents from their homes in East Jerusalem — as well as violence from a far-right Israeli settlement organization, Lehava. Illegal Israeli settlements are the main problem, and the U.S., through the billions in foreign aid it offers to Israel each year, has unique leverage to stop them. Israel's continuing encroachment on the West Bank leads to violence and directly infringes on Palestinian human rights and sovereignty. The U.S. should halt foreign aid to Israel until it commits to ending settlement of the area.
The Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health has sparked controversy on both sides of the political aisle. The central issue of this case is whether the state of Mississippi can outlaw abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy, which is before a fetus is viable to live outside of the womb. For thirty years, the Supreme Court has never upheld a “pre-viability” ban of this kind. If the Court were to uphold this Mississippi statute, it would mark a distinctive shift in its attitude toward abortion. Yet, regardless of the Court’s decision, the extent to which the Court’s ruling will impact access to abortion — both in Mississippi as well as the United States as a whole — remains unclear.
Ever since Dartmouth decided to become a coeducational institution in 1972, providing on-campus housing options to all students enrolled in classes has proved challenging, if not impossible. While the College’s adoption of an academic calendar divided into quarters was supposed to ameliorate the housing “crunch” caused by admitting female students, it has been clear for years now that the D-Plan has not been a viable solution to the problem. Even in normal years, the College simply cannot accommodate every student’s desire to live on campus.
Last Thursday, the Dartmouth community received word of the death of Elizabeth Reimer ’24. Her death — the fourth of an undergraduate student this academic year, and the third of a first-year student — has only deepened the grief within a community that had already been mourning the losses of three peers. Though now is the time to grieve, change must soon follow. For far too long, student calls for increased mental health resources and changes in policy have been met by woefully inadequate responses from the College, even as the pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis on campus and made these cries for help all the more urgent. Dartmouth must repair its dilapidated mental health infrastructure or risk further tragedies.