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Each year, at the outset of Dartmouth’s Student Assembly election period, the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee publishes its annual election code. In recent elections, this rulebook — which outlines the regulations by which candidates’ campaigns and their supporters must abide — has grown increasingly complex and draconian, expanding into spheres of students’ social lives that a student-run committee should have no business occupying. This year and last, in the name of “ensur[ing] equality, equity, fairness between all candidates” after the pandemic forced campaign activities online, EPAC has only tightened its already stringent rules. Many of these more recently imposed regulations — as well as many of those already in place — are decidedly undemocratic and stand in direct conflict with the committee’s mission statement that EPAC exists to facilitate “open and fair” student elections.
The health of the environment is one of the most pressing issues of this century. If we do not make drastic changes soon, we will be left with a planet that is difficult to recognize — one plagued by rising sea levels, melting ice caps, bleached coral, loss of animal habitats, floods and heatwaves. Given the existential crisis we are facing, it is understandable that books, articles, documentaries and social media posts urging people to take individual action against climate change have become commonplace in recent years, pushing them to shift to a plant-based diet and reduce their carbon footprint, to recycle and reduce their waste and to limit their use of gas, water and electricity to reduce energy consumption. Yet while all of the above are commendable, environmentally-conscious habits, they leave out an important piece of the puzzle — the responsibility corporations bear for getting us into this mess in the first place.
On April 14, President Joe Biden announced an unprecedented change in American foreign policy toward Afghanistan: instead of a conditional withdrawal of troops, the United States will commit to a concrete timeline for bringing its forces home. While prior administrations have stipulated that the United States would need to ensure the long-term stability of the Kabul government before withdrawing troops, the last two decades have proven that there can be no such military solution in Afghanistan. With a timetable in place for when the U.S. will withdraw its troops, the Biden administration can finally build a sustainable peace without the need for intervention or its more sinister counterpart, occupation. The United States should supplement this decision with a renewed commitment to diplomacy and support the Afghan people in their nation-building efforts without direct military intervention.
Out of the 18 Student Assembly positions up for election this year, only two are actively contested — and both of these are in East Wheelock House. For the other 16 positions, there’s either one candidate running or none, leaving voters with a write-in as their only option. As I’ve written previously, the near-total dearth of electoral competition is a serious threat to the legitimacy of SA. It’s clear that electing senators by house is a key part of this problem. The concept of running elections by house is arbitrary and results in a nonsensical electoral process, with only a handful of contested races and others lacking even a single candidate. Then there is the question of fairness: while houses are randomly sorted and have no unique interests, their differing sizes mean that the principle of “one person, one vote” is blatantly ignored.
At the end of a Dartmouth student’s fifth term, they are required to begin the tedious but all-important task of declaring their major. The idea is that by the time a student has taken roughly 15 classes within their first five terms, they will have identified a department in which they would like to major. Most schools across the country have similar timelines, but the process by which students actually declare their major varies from institution to institution. At some universities — for example, Columbia University and Harvard University — students simply notify the department of their choice using online forms that take minutes to fill out. Dartmouth’s process, on the other hand, requires an extensive amount of work on the student’s part — work that does not involve students actually reflecting on the interest they have in their chosen department. Indeed, the majority of work Dartmouth students must put into the process of declaring their major is not for the purpose of finding and solidifying an area of interest but instead for fulfilling unnecessary administrative requirements.
Last week, Dartmouth announced its admissions decisions for the Class of 2025, and every high schooler admitted in this historically competitive year deserves a hearty congratulations. As students across the world consider where they will spend their next four years, the admissions office is no doubt already casting an eye toward prospective members of the Class of 2026. As it does so, Dartmouth should adopt lessons learned from this year’s strange cycle.
This past week, Dartmouth announced in a college-wide email that students living in off-campus, private spaces who were vaccinated could gather in groups of nine or fewer students without masks and without maintaining six feet of distance — a policy that is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding vaccinated individuals. However, the new policies do not afford vaccinated on-campus students the privilege of unmasked, undistanced gatherings because, in part, of the difficulty of ensuring only vaccinated students are gathering in common spaces or dorm rooms. Do you agree with these proposed changes to the college’s social distancing and mask policy? If not, what changes to these policies would you propose?
After former President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept his electoral loss in November and the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, it’s clear that the American people are deeply divided on the integrity and legitimacy of the electoral process. With six out of ten Republicans still under the impression that widespread voter fraud was responsible for President Joe Biden’s victory — it was not, to be clear — no one ought to think that American democracy is well. Baseless conspiracy theories like these will only lead to more chaos down the road.
The Biden administration has committed to a green energy plan powered by solar energy, but Biden’s human rights agenda in China may interfere with those goals: Because solar energy is to some extent dependent on products mined and manufactured in China, Biden may be forced to look the other way as China commits major human rights violations in order to maintain access to these critical resources. In doing so, Biden will fail to deliver on his promises to globally enforce human rights. To rectify this, Biden must shift his focus from solar energy to nuclear energy, allowing him to solve both this human rights dilemma and set the U.S. on the best path toward clean energy.
For many Dartmouth students, the promise of becoming fully vaccinated in the near future lies within reach, but the hope of returning to normal life still does not. While the College has in the last week begun the process of easing some social distancing restrictions for vaccinated students, it has made no mention of loosening facility access restrictions either for fully or partially vaccinated students or for those who have previously contracted COVID-19. This should change: Dartmouth should extend limited on-campus access to some facilities to all students who are fully vaccinated, who have acquired immunity through previous infection with COVID-19 or who have received their first dose at least two weeks ago.
In a year of online classes and limited in-person interaction, many students have skirted the restrictions of Dartmouth’s “Community Expectations” so they can socialize with friends. This behavior carries several risks — besides the danger of students catching COVID-19, there is always the chance that Safety and Security officers catch the students instead. When this happens, students are catapulted into an opaque disciplinary process that in the fall resulted in 86 students “disappearing.”
Last week, the Dartmouth administration sent an email to members of the Class of 2024 with new information regarding D-Plan selection. A new clause has been added limiting students to seven fall and spring residence terms rather than the eight normally available fall and spring terms over a four-year college period. This means that students’ D-Plans must now include at least one leave term in the fall or spring of sophomore, junior, or senior year. Given that students are required to have twelve total residence terms (whether on campus or on an abroad program), the new guideline makes taking a winter term off a much more difficult maneuver. This decision to change D-Plan guidelines for the Class of 2024 and future classes deprives students of flexibility for the sake of temporarily solving the housing issue on campus.
Throughout the pandemic, in an effort to express their discontent with social distancing and vaccination policies, some people and politicians have repeatedly drawn stunningly ignorant parallels between COVID-19-related policies and the Holocaust. These attempts to use the Holocaust to push an anti-lockdown agenda are reprehensible and minimize the atrocities committed against Jews, the Roma people, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people and all others who were the targets of Nazi genocide. If one thing is clear, it’s that government pandemic policies informed by science and intended to save lives are not in any way comparable to the Nazi government’s brutality.
In recent years, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has seemingly made it his mission to make our lives as college students as difficult as possible, refusing to vaccinate all of us, spreading blatant falsehoods to justify that choice and trying to take away our right to vote — the list goes on. From his rhetoric, it's clear that Sununu sees “out-of-state” students as enemies, a group of no use to him beyond serving as a political punching bag for him to show how he’s supposedly prioritizing the “real” New Hampshire residents. And he does this all while sitting on Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees — the body which elects the College President and has final authority on key decisions including the College’s budget. It’s a disgrace that someone with such demonstrated contempt for college students should be honored with a spot on the Board. If the College wants to show that it cares about students, Sununu must be removed, and the governor’s seat on the Board must be eliminated.
On March 31, members of the Class of 2021 received word that their family and friends will be totally excluded from the in-person Commencement ceremony. Instead, they have the luxurious privilege of tuning into the ceremony via livestream, like it’s a foreign soccer match you can’t get with a cable package.
Spring has sprung at Dartmouth, bringing with it not only warmer weather but also the hope of an impending return to relative normalcy. Americans across the country are being rapidly vaccinated against COVID-19, and with New Hampshire’s expansion of vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16 as of today, Dartmouth students are hopeful that we, too, may soon get the jab.
On March 25, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced that all New Hampshire residents 16 years and older would be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine beginning April 2. This expansion of eligibility allows college students hailing from New Hampshire or who have established residency here to receive the vaccine, but Sununu specified that out-of-state college students will not qualify. The governor’s office believes that limited vaccine supplies should go to the state’s residents rather than out-of-state college students.
As COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available around the nation, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has announced that out-of-state students will not be eligible for vaccination in the state. Given this recent announcement, how do you think Dartmouth should respond? Does the College have an obligation to help secure vaccines for all students or is it more important that Dartmouth yields to state rules?
Including the recent gun violence incidents in Colorado and Georgia, there have now been 103 mass shootings — defined by the Gun Violence Archive as an incident in which four or more people are shot — in the United States this year. This means that in 2021, the U.S. has averaged more than one mass shooting per day. 2021 is not unique, though — for five consecutive years since 2015, the U.S. has seen more than 300 mass shootings annually. In 2018 and 2019, the U.S. saw more of these events than calendar days.