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I don’t feel lonely at 2 a.m. when I hole myself up in King Arthur Flour with the musical compositions of Dmitri Shostakovich secretly blasting through my earphones. Many of my fellow crammers are unfamiliar with orchestral music’s power to soothe angst, so no, I don’t feel lonely then. Nor do I feel lonely when I embark across the long, cold walk back to my dorm in the Lodge (thank you, housing system) across a deathly silent campus. To be honest, my days are quite busy, and I get very little time to actually be alone. I welcome the peace and quiet as I walk home.
In my past three years at Dartmouth, my absolute favorite moments have been when I’ve failed. Let me explain.
A friend of mine recently argued that you cannot be both a brother in a fraternity and a good runner. While I’m not here to dissect the scrupulous grind of long-distance running or the singular focus it requires, I raise the topic for a point: There is a particular lifestyle associated with being in a fraternity, and that lifestyle, at least to my friend, is counterproductive to athletic achievement, at least with regards to running. I disagree.
Western society has always placed a premium on debate. From the early forums of Rome to the current political boxing ring, intellectual activity has been consistently built on discussion. Yet this blind worship of discourse has its drawbacks, notably when it comes to how easily it can silence minority voices. We as a society are so insistent on proving our own points that we unintentionally silence those who need to be heard the most.
On Wednesday, I had breakfast with South House professor Kathryn Lively to discuss ways to improve the new housing system at the College. Before our meeting, I was admittedly skeptical: According to upperclassmen, the housing system was a device engineered by the administration to squash the Greek system and micromanage student life. I was told that the administration was opaque and sluggish; in short, good luck trying to get anything meaningful done on campus.
In the final sprint of arguably the most bizarre election in American history, every possible news source is beyond saturated with the words “Trump” and “Clinton.” Like many Americans, I am tired. I am tired of the political vitriol, the crude and indecent dialogue and the utter failure of the media and candidates to ge nuinely address matters of substance. I am tired of having to justify everything as a choice between the lesser of two evils. And most of all, I am tired of feeling embarrassed, as an American citizen, of the international laughingstock we have become.
We are often told that diversity is a virtue to treasure. We must be welcoming of all cultures, we are told, and we must accept them with love and tolerance. And indeed, this is a most desirable outcome. Diversity is vital to a thriving society. But, I ask, do these oh-so fierce proponents of diversity understand exactly what it is? Do they, for all their buzzwords and Tumblr savvy, truly grasp what it means to be a “diverse” society?
Donald Trump’s son recently faced criticism for a tweet that compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles. Accompanied by a graphic of a bowl filled with Skittles, Donald Trump Jr. wrote, “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?” Most of the American public found that this image was offensive, trivializing the hardships of refugees and demonstrating a lack of sympathy. After deleting the tweet, Trump Jr. called his post a metaphor for “risk and probability” — but this doesn’t make the image any less problematic.
“I don’t need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice.” One would probably think that these words belong to this year’s Republican candidate for the presidency, Donald Trump. Yet these words were said long before Trump, in 1994 when another businessman sought to govern his country. His name was Silvio Berlusconi.
When I first came here as a freshman, I had two goals for my college experience: get good grades and join a fraternity. I chose Dartmouth because I wanted the exceptional undergraduate education it offered. Outside the classroom, though, I just wanted a place where I could relax, maybe drink some beer and hang out with friends.
Upon coming to Dartmouth, I was excited for the glorious anarchy of college life. As a senior at a strict New England boarding school, I fantasized about college, where I could wear athletic leggings or jeans to class, spend Saturday mornings sleeping in, stay out past 10:45 p.m. and not have mandatory nightly study hall from 8 to 10 p.m. Although I begrudgingly understood that the 72 pages of rules detailed in my boarding school’s student handbook were meant to promote the academic, social and personal well-being and growth of all students, I felt like many of them were trivial or unnecessary. Thus, as I turned 18 during my senior year of high school, I was ready for college, where my “legal adult” status would be acknowledged and uninhibited by a handbook full of rules limiting everything I did.
This past spring term, I watched someone write an article for Ivy Beat titled “How to Take Notes in College — By a Dartmouth Sophomore” in front of me, in our Government 6 course. The second tip, “do not use a computer in class,” was probably chosen because computer users more easily succumb to distractions, mindlessly scribe the lectures word-for-word and are a detriment to their fellow students. I’m certain that at least one of your professors have hit you with the statistical studies that show how supposedly impossible it is to pay attention in class while your peer is messaging their mother — which, in the grand scheme of computer activities, is far from the worst you can do online in class.
High school seniors are entering an exciting times in their lives, one most of us have probably blocked from our memories — applying to colleges.
In his recent “Make Happy” tour, comedy prodigy Bo Burnham, whose inventive songs often provide commentary on social issues, took a moment to seriously address the audience. Burnham argued, with an impressive degree of awareness and charm, that we are all constantly performing. Social media, he asserted before transitioning back into the show, is the market’s solution to the underlying need we all feel to preform for an audience.
To some Democrats, he’s the end of the world, the apocalypse or the sign of doomsday. To some Republicans, he’s change, a breath of fresh air or an outsider. To Vladimir Putin, he’s a “colorful” man. On both sides of the political aisle and even in other countries, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump may appear to be a wild card.
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.
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.