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Purdue University recently announced a new program, “Back A Boiler,” that will give rising juniors and seniors an alternative way to pay back debt. The program’s website notes that this alternative is potentially less expensive than more traditional loans for students who need additional funding to pay for their education. This option is based on an income-share agreement, also known as an ISA, and gives students an award of $5,000 or more to complete their degree. Students will then repay the debt at a fixed rate in the years immediately after graduation. The repayment rate will be calculated based on a student’s anticipated salary and will continue for a fixed amount of years, up to nine. Worth mentioning here is that the interest rate is zero percent, and that students will not have to pay once the payment term is up. The ISA program will take effect at Purdue starting next month. Although time will tell whether this program is effective or not, ISA has the potential to be beneficial to both the school and the students. It is an option that Dartmouth should consider adopting in the future.
Within dysfunction there is opportunity for transformation. While I believe that Dartmouth’s climate is teeming with issues, I also believe that those issues can be solved. Still, having served as the chief of staff of Dartmouth’s Student Assembly, I am keenly aware that in its current form, Student Assembly is unequipped to tackle the problems plaguing our campus today. But I also believe that my candidacy offers the most reliable and authentic opportunity to revive our student government — to fix a broken model and transform it into an institution that can effect real change.
I must admit to a sense of schadenfreude whenever I learn of foolish occurrences at other Ivy League colleges. It is devilishly fun for me to snicker at the misfortunes of our Ivy League peers, smugly satisfied that my school is, at least, not in their shoes. However, when such foolishness has far-reaching and dangerous implications, then that self-righteous snobbery transforms into genuine alarm. And then suddenly the smug superiority vanishes as I realize that the Dartmouth I love so much is vulnerable to the very same troubles.
In her March 30 column “Reprehensible Rapprochement,” Sarah Perez ’17 wrote that President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba came despite continued abuses by the Cuban government and an overall United States policy of weakness and appeasement. She accurately highlights the challenges facing Cuba’s more than 11 million people, including severe economic stagnation, crumbling infrastructure and the arrests of political protestors even as Obama arrived on the island. Perez voices an understandable frustration with the pace of meaningful change since December 2014, when the two nations first moved to normalize relations. However, concerns over the visible progress of rapprochement today miss the long-term advantages that engagement provides in the post-Castro era.
During his time as Secretary of State under President James Monroe in the early 19th century, John Quincy Adams famously stated “Americans should not go abroad to slay dragons they do not understand in the name of spreading democracy.” This worldview, expressed by Adams almost 200 years ago is still pertinent today. The 2016 presidential election has rekindled the debate over what America’s role in the world should be. Should the U.S. continue dominating every aspect of international politics and security? Can the U.S. continue subsidizing the security of its allies? Are nation-building projects by the West feasible and is an aggressively militant foreign policy in America’s interests? Even peripherally examining history and current affairs reveals that moving forward, Washington can be best served by a policy of restraint. The U.S. should focus on clearly defined and narrow foreign policy goals and national security objectives rather than solving all of the world’s problems.
This past week, Dartmouth sent out its regular admission acceptance letters, officially extending invitations to the prospective Class of 2020. 2,176 prospective students were offered admission, and the 10.5 percent acceptance rate represents an increase from last year’s 10.3 percent acceptance rate. This leaves us with the seventh place in the Ivy League by acceptance rate, with Harvard University and Columbia University admitting almost half as many of their applicants and only Cornell University admitting a larger percentage of students. Historically, prestige has always been attached to acceptance rate. The lower the acceptance rate, the more selective your school is, and the more prestigious it is. U.S. News and World Report even prominently factors in selectivity, based on admissions percentage, when they put together their comprehensive and commonly referenced college rankings every year.
The College boasts a number of traditions, from Homecoming weekend to Winter Carnival, yet it seems that the surest tradition of every college is an annual increase in tuition – and dear old Dartmouth is no exception. And thus with the arrival of spring comes the news of next year’s 3.8 percent increase in tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board —almost a whole percentage point higher than last year’s 2.9 percent. In reality, this means that students will be paying, roughly, an additional three thousand dollars, and that’s without even including the indirect costs of attending, such as books and travel. On a more positive note, the College also announced an increase in its financial aid budget by 4.7 percent. Still, given that the inflation rate in the 2014 fiscal year is 1.61 percent and that the projected inflation rate for 2015 is 0.1 percent, it seems that college President Phil Hanlon has failed to uphold his pledge to keep tuition increases in line with inflation.
On March 23, Microsoft launched an artificial intelligence program known as Tay on Twitter. Tay’s developers intended for her to interact with people on Twitter in order to learn how millennials communicate. In less than 24 hours, though, Tay had gone from having the mindset of a friendly teenage girl to spouting racist and sexist language, even calling for the genocide of Jews and Mexicans. Having had its AI program coaxed by internet trolls into vehement xenophobia, Microsoft was forced to quickly remove Tay from Twitter.
Black privilege is a term that has been in the news lately, circulating implicitly and explicitly, both on CNN and at Donald Trump rallies as one cause for so-called “reverse racism.” As the name implies, black privilege is the idea that a person of color is afforded certain privileges based on the color of their skin. This is, to an extent, true — racial identity does come with certain privileges. Being able to define oneself as part of a group, for instance, can be an emboldening and enriching experience. The concept of black privilege, however, is most often mistakenly used in response to and with the same connotation as white privilege — that is, as pushback against the idea that whiteness comes with certain, unmerited advantages.Although a relatively new phrase, black privilege is not a new concept. It is the sting behind ignorant assertions such as, “That person only got into that school because they’re black,” or, “They get to say things that I don’t because I’m white.” It is the belief held by the ignorant that political correctness somehow oppresses those who do not wish to be politically correct. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is one of those people.Trump derives much of his popularity from rebelling against the system, by providing a space for hate to be exposed and for oft-unspoken points of contention to be vocalized. Many of his more fervent supporters use the concept of black privilege to protest political correctness, complaining that certain words, for instance, have become taboo for them or that they cannot voice their true feelings out of fear that they will be accused of being racist. Having thus acknowledged this, they then proceed to preach ignorance, spouting statements that are often either intentionally racist or so backwards in logic that they seem to convey a similar point. For instance, one Wisconsin man, when asked if he believed in white privilege, replied negatively. Those who embrace whiteness, he explained, are portrayed as racist, and said “If we had a White History Month, that would be viewed as a racist holiday.” He proceeded to cite Black History Month as an example of glaring inequality.All too often, the idea that blackness or minority status leads to privilege is the result of a superficial understanding of reality. According to the demographic information regarding Dartmouth’s newest group of admitted students, the Class of 2020 will be the first one comprised of a majority of people of color, who represent 51.6 percent of the admitted applicant pool. At first, this may seem peculiar considering that white people still make up the bulk of the United States’ population, with whites representing a whopping 77.4 percent. Upon closer review, however, it’s easy to understand why this is: Dartmouth accepts a disproportionate amount of students from cosmopolitan areas, in which white people are not always the majority. Furthermore, nearly a tenth of Dartmouth students come from overseas. Lastly, the admissions office seems to value diversity, boasting on its homepage, “At Dartmouth, you will be surrounded by the brightest and most diverse group of friends you’re likely to encounter anywhere.”For some white Americans, such a bold statement may be frightening. After all, white people are so accustomed to being the majority — so accustomed to their privilege — that any value placed on non-whiteness may be perceived as an affront to their sense of security, perhaps even their sense of self. White culture, to a large extent, is defined very stringently in contrast to the more richly developed identities of other races and, indeed, is based on a history of oppressing non-white peoples. In this sense, white culture is fragile. However, holidays such as Black History Month or greater numbers of people of color admitted to the College are not examples of inequality. Rather, they are examples of progress away from the historic inequity that continues to plague American society. Black History Month is a chance to learn about the history we are not taught in school, about the individuals who do not fit into the traditionally Eurocentric curriculum. And the changing demographics of admitted students, rather than indicating black privilege, represent the rise in college matriculation for non-white Americans, who naturally increase the diversity of the student body.Highlighting the diversity of a student body or celebrating Black History Month are not forms of discriminations against white people. Both are examples of pride — justifiable pride — being displayed for noteworthy accomplishments, and should not be called black privilege but, rather, what they actually represent: black pride.
Are you concerned about the increase in Dartmouth's acceptance rate this year?
Since the dawn of the digital era, the debate over privacy and security has been intense and fiercely controversial. It has morphed into a shouting match filled with abstract details and technical jargon, while the issue has become so politicized and polarized that a middle ground seems impossible to find. The matter has been portrayed as if personal privacy and national security lie on opposite sides of a spectrum, making it seem impossible to care more about one issue without caring less about the other. Recently, however, the debate has lost much of its exclusivity as a solely intellectual or political topic, finally reaching, even if only briefly, the mainstream dialogue.
“The Insane Campaign of John Kasich” — the title of a National Review article — indicates the exasperation of the usually moderate, well-reasoned conservative magazine. The article excellently summarizes the current mindset of many anti-Trump conservatives: Ted Cruz is the Republican Party’s only chance of beating Donald Trump, while John Kasich’s campaign is merely serving to better Trump’s chances. Most moderate conservatives are worried about Trump not just because of his abhorrent and largely incoherent political stances but also because of the damage his inevitable loss in the general election would do to the Republican Party. Trump’s policies, masquerading under the guise of conservatism, combined with the already fractured state of the GOP mean that a landslide loss to Hillary Clinton could send the Republican Party into disarray, causing immense and lasting damage to the party. In their desperation to avoid this political disaster, conservatives believe that they must turn to Cruz and that Kasich is running a selfish campaign. This, however, is the wrong strategy, grossly misjudging not only Kasich’s chances but also the damage a Cruz loss could cause.
As an independent voter and keen political junkie, the 2016 election has proven to be much more of a case study in sensationalism and “infotainment” than a legitimate litmus test of policy and issues for the American public. According to a report by SMG Delta, Donald Trump’s expenditures allocated to television advertising rank lowest amongst the running candidates. Despite not spending much on television advertising, Trump has managed to earn $400 million in free media via traditional sources of print and broadcast media as well as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, equaling Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz’s media shares in February combined.
For many of us, our first impression of Dartmouth as students was getting off of the Dartmouth Coach, frame pack in tow, for Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips. We looked out the window nervously as the bus circled the Green, and many of us saw flair-clad upperclassmen yelling and chasing the bus to the stop. The first thing we learn about Dartmouth is how fun, wacky and outgoing the people are, and how much they absolutely love their school. There was a huge banner on the outside of Collis that read “Welcome Home!” This attitude was pervasive throughout Trips: most every song, dance, speech and activity revolved around how people came into their own at and because of Dartmouth. It isn’t just Trips. Other traditions like Dimensions and prospective student tours paint a similar picture of Dartmouth as an amazing place for outgoing, energetic people who are thrilled just to be here. Unfortunately, this picture isn’t entirely realistic and it is often problematic.
Given recent changes at the College, would you enroll as a ’20?
Last Monday, Obama made history by becoming the first sitting United States president to visit Cuba since 1928. The momentousness of the occasion was not lost, except maybe on Cuba’s current president Raúl Castro. While politicians and members of the press hailed Obama’s trip to the island as a historic triumph, the Cuban dictator apparently thought otherwise. Indeed, he did not even bother to greet the first family at the airport. Instead, the Obamas were received by a number of the regime’s dignitaries, including Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez and Cuban ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cabanas. White House staff quickly came to Castro’s defense, claiming it was “never contemplated or discussed” that he would attend the landing of Air Force One at Jose Martí International Airport.
Last week I saw “Whisky Tango Foxtrot,” a movie based on the story of journalist Kim Barker’s war reporting in Afghanistan. Something about the movie struck me as unusual. Unlike many heroines in action movies, she was unabashedly portrayed as naïve and uncool at the beginning of the movie. Unlike beautiful fellow journalist Tanya Vanderpoel, Barker did not know how to navigate parties or find her way around Afghanistan. But despite her initial struggle and, according to her peers, her lack of beauty, she was the winning protagonist. I realized that the movie seemed unusual because female heroines on screen are almost always effortlessly beautiful and, therefore, cool. The explicit importance of heroines’ beauty in movies, compared to the insignificance of the appearance of male heroes perpetuates the idea that true validation for an onscreen (and sadly, sometimes off-screen) heroine lies in her beauty.
The debate over nominating a new Supreme Court justice has brought out the worst in political party leaders. Republican leaders have vowed to not give any of the Obama administration’s nominees a hearing. Ted Cruz even promised to filibuster any of Obama’s nominees.
Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he will veto HB 757, a bill passed by the Georgia state legislature last week regarding what its proponents define as “religious freedom.” HB 757, as it was passed in the Georgia senate about a week ago, aims to “protect faith-based groups that refuse to serve or hire someone for religious reasons,” according to a CBS News report from March 24. The bill has been in the media for two years now, attracting both vocal support and opposition. Supporters have particularly cited the federal developments in same-sex marriage over recent years, while opponents claim that the bill legalizes discrimination. I commend governor Deal’s intent to veto the bill and urge other governors facing bills such as HB 757 in the future to do the same.
Nary a day goes by without mention of the words “cultural appropriation” in American universities, and most recently they have come to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. On Feb. 22, the college’s dean of students sent an email to campus regarding an instance of “ethnic stereotyping.” The incident in question was a “tequila party,” at which some students wore sombreros and which was quickly construed as an offensive stereotyping of Hispanic students. In response, the Bowdoin Student Government issued a “statement of solidarity” decrying the party as “unacceptable” and calling for the administration to “create a space” for students who felt targeted by the party. Two of the Student Government’s own members even faced impeachment proceedings for attending the party.