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Martha Rosler created a photomontage called “The Grey Drape” (1967-72). The piece shows a woman in a silky dress pulling open a window frame in her modern American home, smiling placidly despite the soldiers marching on a battlefield outside her window. This image appears in my head whenever I contemplate the collective attitude in New Hampshire toward the Black Lives Matter movement. Like the woman in her utopic home, Dartmouth and New Hampshire as a whole tend to evade the issue of police brutality due to a false perception that it doesn’t concern New Englanders, white people or students at the College. According to those with this mindset, race doesn’t matter in a state like ours.
I grew up in a small town with small-town values. I knew almost everyone in my high school, and most of my friends spent their weekends running outside or going to church. I still clearly remember the shock I felt when, one spring day about four years ago, I visited my sister, a Dartmouth ‘16, at college and first set foot in a fraternity.
Last week, U.S. News and World Report released its highly anticipated national university rankings. While Dartmouth’s standing in terms of undergraduate teaching plunged from second to seventh place, the College on the hill moved up to 11th place overall. At the very least, we can breathe a sigh of relief now that we have beat Cornell by a solid margin across both measures. Our counterparts in Ithaca will thankfully continue to be the butt of Ivy League humor.
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I have never sent a flitz, but I haven’t received one either. My excuse is that my hard-to-spell-Chinese-pinyin-blitz name is a secret that I have fought hard to keep. I’m not talking about romantic rejections, though. The rejections I speak of are far more difficult for some to brush off. Group rejections, whether they are from sports teams, comedy troupes, a cappella groups, dance ensembles, Greek houses, leadership councils or even classes, are truly the ones that can keep you up at night. It’s no surprise then that the height of audition and application season — right about… now — is ripe with the sorrows of fresh rejections.
Dartmouth has often been touted as one of the leading schools for undergraduate teaching in the United States, as it should be: in many other leading institutions, rarely does one find a noted professor teaching undergraduate students, much less is it the norm across classes. At Dartmouth, prospective students and parents can rest assured that their classes will likely be small, their professors will be present and participation will be held to a rigorous standard. Thus, if anything, Dartmouth’s drop in the recent U.S. News & World Report 2016 ranking of the best undergraduate teaching institutions from second to seventh should be read as one of many indicators of problems with the current administration’s policies.
For many Dartmouth students, the beginning of the fall term is one of the most exciting times of the year. People are starting new classes, reuniting with friends and joining new groups or taking on new positions in their current organizations. For incoming students, that excitement (and nervousness) is often multiplied tenfold. Between the nervous excitement of a new place and new people, the Dartmouth centric fervor of Trips and all the amazing programming directed at first-years, it can be easy for all of us, new and returning students, to get swept up in the excitement of the beginning of the school year. Amid all that energy and celebration, however, there needs to be some somber consideration of some of the more sinister realities that come with starting a new school year. Perhaps the most frightening and tragic of those realities is that over a thousand people, and thousands more across the country — are at an age where they are much more likely to be the victims of sexual and relationship violence than in any other time in their lives.
I spent the better part of the past week on a cross country training trip at Dartmouth’s Second College Grant in northern New Hampshire. Activities included running, reading, sleeping, sitting on rocks by the river, wading into the river, returning to rocks by the river, eating, trembling under the mighty vastness of the night sky, wondering about my place in the universe, making little progress, going back to sleep and generally experiencing something I haven’t experienced for quite a while: boredom.
We asked our opinion staff: "In the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of institutions with the best undergraduate teaching, Dartmouth placed seventh, down from placing second last year. Do you agree with this ranking, and if so how can Dartmouth improve its undergraduate teaching?"
President Barack Obama’s gray hair, tired eyes and wrinkled forehead tell us one thing: leading this country, carrying its weight on your shoulders and pushing it through all the hurdles that come its way is not easy. His job demands an incredible amount of stamina — enough to travel to multiple countries in a week, giving speeches in all of them while making monumental military decisions and staying on top of domestic issues. It demands the agility and intellectual capacity to process information quickly, make swift yet calculated decisions and handle almost inhumane levels of stress.
What does it mean to do the right thing?
The 2016 Senior Survey reveals a wide disapproval with the administration’s responsiveness to student concerns: 75 percent of its respondents stated they are either “generally dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.” I have no doubt that a dozen hands in Parkhurst reached up to scratch their heads at this news, mystified by the poor reception to their munificence. I am just as certain that they shrugged it off as a mere fluke of statistics, so convinced of their own righteousness that they refused to accept the word of lowly students. What they failed to understand then, and still fail to understand now, is the bitter frustration that fuels these numbers.
I will begin with a welcome and a disclaimer.
Don’t get me wrong. Long-distance relationships have a lot of drawbacks. The lack of physical proximity, the financial strain of seeing each other and the enormous amount of trust required can and often do challenge the health of long-distance relationships. But, if done right, the relationship itself can pose a redemptive challenge that strengthens both the individual and the couple as a whole. Hear me out.
Last year, I found myself overwhelmed by much of the information thrown at first-years during our first week on campus. From Ben & Jerry’s with College President Phil Hanlon to the discussion on our summer reading book, the orientation schedule was jam-packed with programming before classes started. On top of this academic transition, college is a significant social change. During Orientation, the Dartmouth campus buds off into schmobs, large groups of freshmen — some with little in common other than the activity they met at — walking from one activity to another.
It might seem cheesy, but time really flies — it feels like just yesterday that I was anxiously driving up for trips, unsure of the future and uncertain what to expect. One thing that I am so glad I did, and I highly encourage everyone to do, is take diverse, random classes freshman year.
Let us set aside our misgivings about stereotypes for a moment and consider the archetypal Asian family. Labels for Asian parents, ranging from tiger mothers to kyoiku mamas, all describe the same authoritarian strictness. As the widespread perception goes, most Asian parents relentlessly drive an agenda of academic and extracurricular excellence for their children in hopes of setting them up for future success. By necessity, more creative endeavors are routinely shunned in favor of more time to study or practice a new instrument, and social development takes a back seat in the quest for higher SAT scores and Ivy League diplomas.
This past weekend, after an officer shot and killed a 23-year-old black man in Milwaukee on Saturday, unrest enveloped the city. This shooting comes as one of a wave of high profile police shootings this summer. As of mid-August, police have shot and killed close to 600 people, according to The Washington Post.
Welcome, first-years, to the Big Green! As I type this, it is only now really hitting me that it has been a whopping four years since I wrote my own college applications. Yet the passage of time has not dulled my memory of how grueling the process was, so thank you for your hard work and congratulations!
I’ve sat at my computer for a while, trying to think of some piece of overarching wisdom that I, with one year of college under my belt, can share with you Dartmouth newbies. But as I’m sure you’ll discover soon enough, when you inevitably end up in the stacks at 4 a.m. having just drunk the last dregs from your Red Bull and with three pages left in that seemingly pointless essay for the freshman writing course you got stuck with because all the others filled up, sometimes the words just don’t come to you.