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Days before the start of my senior year at Dartmouth, I went out for a run in my suburban Chicago hometown to celebrate my 21st birthday. Awaiting me after my run were not birthday messages celebrating my newly minted adult status, but rather news that would brand my class as part of Generation 9/11. Terrorists had just brought down the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon. Days later, the halcyon senior fall we had long anticipated gave way to conversations about recovery efforts, military campaigns in Afghanistan and rising discrimination against Muslims.
On July 24, Julia Griffin, the Hanover town manager, penned an op-ed in The Dartmouth titled “Selfish Students.” In this article, Griffin warns students to “smarten up” and attempts to scare them by discussing the potential reversal of students’ future on-campus privileges. While I strongly agree that students must socially distance, Griffin neglects to address other Hanover community members who blatantly ignore guidelines. Instead, she bitterly characterizes Dartmouth students as the main threat. All of us, as a community, have the responsibility to uphold social distancing regulations. To point fingers in discourse, to cast blame and to depict Dartmouth students as enemies rather than community members does not protect Hanover; it divides us and dooms our community’s future.
“Opening an unconditional, fair and transparent investigation is our right and it is not an extraordinary measure as the school [has] claimed,” wrote Maha Hasan Alshawi in a July 24 Facebook post.
In her recent guest column entitled “Selfish Students,” Hanover town manager Julia Griffin criticized Dartmouth students currently living in Hanover for not wearing masks and not following social distancing guidelines. As a student currently living on-campus, I have also received many emails from college officials conveying a similar message, such as a July 3 email from Dean of the College Kathryn Lively informing us of “increasing … complaints from faculty, staff and other local residents” who have seen Dartmouth students ignoring the various recommendations. From my experience, however, Griffin’s sweeping claim is untrue at the macro level and the warnings of college officials — while well-intentioned — are biased and misguided. In fact, I see local Hanover residents committing social distancing violations just as often as Dartmouth students. By antagonizing students, the town and the college fails to acknowledge that local residents are part of the problem, putting us all at risk.
Given the current state of the world — an unprecedented global pandemic, the ongoing ecological disaster of climate change and the social justice crisis of systemic racism — it is not surprising that the more religiously inclined among us have sounded warning bells that the Apocalypse is near. A New York Times article from April provided a concise snapshot of how widespread this sentiment is today, as well as how historically rooted the notion of the “end times” is in many religious traditions. Culturally, many of us in the United States are captivated by this idea of an Apocalyptic event and its fiery aftermath. Movies famously depict such events: from the nightmarish depictions in “The Road” to the more light-hearted and hopeful scenes in “WALL-E” to the all-too familiar totalitarian state in “V for Vendetta.” Despite some thematic differences, all of these portrayals of the Apocalypse conceive of it as a singular future event which is shared by an entire community or even an entire planet. However, this focus on large scale societal calamities distracts from the reality of what an apocalypse actually is: a personal reckoning with the tragedies of life. Perhaps, if this were better understood, we as a society would be less willing to sacrifice the lives of those around us merely to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
As Dartmouth prepares to welcome back a portion of the student body to campus in September, the rate of COVID-19 infections around the nation continues to skyrocket. This latest spike in the spread of COVID is marked by one particular difference: young adults are getting infected at much higher rates than they were during the spring. Why is this the case? As The Hill reports, many young adults have a misguided impression that the virus cannot cause them harm, consequentially risking their health and that of their family and friends.
The global COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement continue to rage on throughout the country. The government’s reactions to both have unsurprisingly and consistently failed to protect its marginalized constituents. The U.S. is reaching record-breaking rates of infections and deaths as the failures of the government’s public health measures, or lack thereof, become apparent. Alongside this health tragedy, anti-racist protestors are facing violence and imprisonment at the hands of armed government forces.
In June, the Department of Homeland Security released draft amendments to the United States’ asylum policy. The 161-page document recommends narrowing the definition of persecution, and subsequently, the grounds for asylum in the United States.
With all that is happening in the world today, it is easy to get lost in what seems to be an endless slew of hopeless news. Between rising cases of COVID-19 and the ugliness of police brutality in the United States, it seems there is little reason to be hopeful for America’s future. I, however, look to the future not with despair, but with hope; the Black Lives Matter movement has renewed my faith in our ability to improve American society.
On July 8, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania to uphold a regulation that allows employers to deny women access to birth control coverage. Specifically, the decision allows employers with a “sincerely held religious or moral objection” to appeal to the Trump administration for the right to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception. Previously, under former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, employers were mandated to provide insurance coverage for contraception with no out-of-pocket expenses. The Supreme Court’s new ruling broadens the already existing exceptions to this mandate, allowing most employers to seek exemption from paying for employees’ contraception on religious grounds. The court’s decision is both patriarchal and anachronistic. It is time for decision-makers to stop restricting the rights of women and realize that infringing upon women’s reproductive rights sets back the United States as a whole.
As of late, political leaders have been painting an optimistic picture of a quickly recovering macroeconomy. These high expectations, however, are not always based on fact. Rather than forming these unrealistic expectations for the future, the prominent voices of today should focus on what we can do in the present moment.
In 2020, Black people are still being killed because they dare to be Black in America — because they dare to walk in their own neighborhoods or go for a drive. These killings, however, represent only a fraction of the violence the Black community faces. Current definitions of violence — specifically those regarding identity-based violence — are too narrow to accurately portray the violence that marginalized groups face. This violence goes beyond the physical and explicit — it lies in the subtext of individuals' language and behavior, outside of the traditional definition of violence. We must change our understanding of what constitutes violence so that Black people no longer have to be beaten or murdered in order for racial justice to be perceived as an issue worth pursuing.
On July 1, the Board of Trustees, College President Phil Hanlon and his senior leadership group sent an email to campus that emphasized the administration’s commitment toward racial justice.