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An admitted student and his father walked through the admissions office door during one of my shifts last week. The father asked me, “Is Dartmouth a really big party school? Because if so, it probably isn’t the right place for my son.” I had no time to share with him everything I had on my mind. My brief answer to them was that Dartmouth is known for far more important things than its Greek culture and that while no campus will ever be perfect, the issues that plague us also plague every other elite institution in the country. I then passed them on to an admissions officer, who sat down with them for a lengthier conversation.
You probably haven’t paid attention to the French presidential election. I wouldn’t blame you. We have enough political turmoil here without worrying about issues across the Atlantic. Yet the effects of the election in France will have a substantial impact on the politics worldwide and already the election has changed the way Europeans approach and view politics.
On April 9, Women’s Grandmaster Sabina-Francesca Foișor became the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion. Not only is she the the first Romanian to clinch the title — a point of personal pride — she did so on her ninth attempt playing in the tournament, even after losing twice in the first four games.
Universal suffrage is arguably the most fundamental privilege accorded to American citizens. However, the grasp the United States has on the helm of global electoral freedom may be slipping. In 2015, the United States ranked 20th in the world in an Economist report on democracy that factored in “electoral process and pluralism,” but persistent unjust features of the American voting landscape caused Freedom House to rank the U.S. behind at least 61 other countries in electoral process in 2016. Gerrymandering, voter identification laws and the role of money in elections round out the pantheon of the most pressing threats to Americans’ abilities to shape the course of their nation. Despite the popular conception of America’s place at the forefront of international democracy, these patently anti-democratic laws and processes infringe upon freedoms that, per the rhetoric of U.S. exceptionalism, Americans ought to have.
Americans spend an average of around $17 billion on Easter every year. With the copious amounts of food, clothing and gifts purchased for the occasion, the holiday provides retailers across the country with a vigorous revenue boost. Originally a religious and cultural tradition centered on modesty, humility and hope, this holiday is almost nationally celebrated and universally capitalized.
Many students choose Dartmouth because of the close relationships the school fosters between students and faculty. So, all peer mentors, trip leaders and other upperclassmen brimming with guidance will encourage freshmen to go to office hours — but what they don’t explain is how to actually go to them. As a freshman, office hours were to my academic experience what elusive secret menu items were to chain restaurants. To order Starbuck’s “Pink Drink” or In-N-Out’s “Animal Style” fries, you have to be aware of the item’s existence and confident enough to place the order. The actual fries or drink, regardless of taste, seemed to be a prize for attaining obscure knowledge and possessing self-confidence.
President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget slashes the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by almost one-third. With the signing of his recent executive order, he has taken the first step in repealing former President Barack Obama’s climate policies, such as the Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce emissions of U.S. power plants by 32 percent by 2030. None of Trump’s anti-environment pro-big-business policies should come as a surprise: this is a man who, on the campaign trail, expressed time and again his desire to rebuild America’s fossil fuel industry. Doing so — resurrecting this once-stalwart center of our nation — is passed off by many politicians as a patriotic act and therefore a worthy goal. Surely there is nothing more American, more laudable, then re-opening the coal mines! Yet, once patriotic sentimentality is stripped away, the problem becomes clear: regardless of whether you believe in climate change, repealing policies designed to protect our environment and giving the coal industry one last hurrah before alternative energy sources become more accessible to all is not just short-sighted; it is economically harmful for America’s future.
People go to college to build unforgettable experiences, meet amazing people and learn to be independent. Yet, last year I had forgotten one of the main reasons I chose to go to Dartmouth. Amongst the newness of college, as my freshman year closed, I became deluged with the routine that is school: wake up, go to class, grab something quick to eat, hide in the corner of 3FB and stay there until my workload seemed just a bit lighter. Whether to grab Foco or Hop for lunch grabbed my attention more than any news article. My reasons to plow through classwork changed from having a desire to learn to needing to get studying done.
Last week, a former Dartmouth admissions director, Rebecca Sabky, published an editorial in The New York Times. Its cute, clickbait title, “Check This Box if You’re a Good Person,” caught my eye even before I recognized her connection to this school. With Dartmouth so rarely mentioned in mainstream news recently, I eagerly scanned the article. Imagine my face falling comically as I reached the end.
One thousand, five hundred and forty-two high school seniors from almost every corner of the world opened their acceptance letters to Dartmouth on March 30. While they rejoiced, eager to become members of the Class of 2021, around 18,000 others were met with the words, “We regret to inform you…” For an 18-year-old, rejection from an elite university can be crushing. For years, academic institutions have indoctrinated their students with an obsessive desire for validation and an aversion to failure beginning from a young age. But what those students do not know is that the colleges and universities of their dreams are victims of the same systematic fear of rejection.
Last month, state representative Kim Hendren introduced Arkansas House Bill 1834 into the Arkansas state legislature. Its goal was to ban all of the late professor Howard Zinn’s articles and books from being used in public and open-enrollment public charter schools in Arkansas.
“Hey, how are you?” “I’m good!” “How was your off term?” “It was really nice. It feels good to be back though.” “That’s good. Grab a meal?” “Yes! What’s your class schedule?” “I have a 10, an 11 and a 3B.” “How about lunch after 11s next Wednesday?” “Sure!”
I never go on shopping sprees, but on a whim, I bought a black California Fleece sweatshirt and a grayish trench coat from American Apparel following the announcement of its closing. I will miss their black turtlenecks, thigh high socks and soft t-shirts; to some extent, I’ll even miss their controversial advertisements. Yet, when I lamented the death of American Apparel and expressed my ensuing urgency to buy more clothing before it closed, one of my friends said, “Clara, how could you?” Because of the sexual assault allegations against former American Apparel executive Dov Charney and the apparent sexism of American Apparel advertisements, I have been forced to call my American Apparel clothing “Problematic Faves.”
The first installment of this series posited a divide between freedoms the United States purports to afford its citizens and the actual ways in which pervasive, structural features of American life restrict opportunities for those citizens. Perhaps the most important manifestation of this divide is in the American education system. Vast inequities in the quality of primary and secondary education across district lines, stemming from the fundamental ways the United States has understood the burden of educating its youth, beget vicious cycles of poverty. The rising cost of a college degree, necessary for any job that might propel one to a higher socioeconomic stratum, means the rich benefit while the poor grapple with either debt or ignorance.
Last year’s Presidential election brought out the fundamental flaws in America’s two-party system. Establishment Democrats and Republicans alike were seen as being status-quo and in bed with big business, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The success and popularity of populist insurgent presidential candidates, including now-President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was largely an effect of their loud antagonism toward the Washington establishment, corruption and big money.
Believe it or not, it is already week two. We trudged through a snowstorm for April Fools’ Day, forced our livers back into full gear over the weekend and wound up again with dark circles underneath our eyes again. Things are starting to get serious – as we finally settle into our classes, we now have to catch up on our readings, pay attention to our professors and start working for the midterms and assignments coming up. This stressful consciousness of our impending workload could not be more different from the cushy, carefree first week most of us experienced as we “shopped” for classes but didn’t necessarily do work for them.
My spring breaks are notoriously uneventful, mainly due to my own lack of energy and creativity when it comes to planning cheap, fun and short outings. However, after many days of laying in bed, I was lucky enough to have friends that got tickets for the recently revived Broadway show, “Miss Saigon.”
People in America care — or profess to care — about freedom and personal liberty, perhaps more than any other group of people in recorded history. The Declaration of Independence speaks of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution, the fundamental document from which each statute and protection in American law stems and whose tenets it must not violate, putatively exists to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Political and patriotic rhetoric, generally purporting to speak for “true” Americans and “true” America, centers on the freedoms that Make Us Special. United States foreign policy from George F. Kennan to Donald Rumsfeld has held the liberation of oppressed places and people from the chains of tyranny into the warm embrace of capitalism and democracy as its guiding ideal.
Before spending the winter term in Paris, everyone I had spoken to who had gone on a study abroad program had sworn by the life-changing wisdom and experience they had gained. I did not believe them. I knew that, just like most statements by Dartmouth students, those opinions were hyperbolized, omitting the negatives while exaggerating the positives, creating the illusion of satisfaction or happiness despite what exists beneath the surface. I would not say that I was right, but I was not wrong either.
On Feb. 24, Chinese photographer Ren Hang died. Known for his minimalistic portraits which often combined human subjects with animals and various inanimate objects placed unexpectedly, Hang often highlighted the borderland between erotic and artistic, leading him to shoot photos for fashion brands like Maison Kitsune and face censorship in China. His photograph “We’ve Got Eyes Everywhere” for Milk Studios, for example, features a black-haired woman donning red lipstick and holding a peacock which partially covers her face. Despite the polarizing nature of his work, Hang denied that his work had a political message, sometimes claiming it had no meaning at all.