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Dartmouth never makes for boring dinner conversation. A recent heated Foco debate ended in a statement of unanimous resignation — “everybody wants to be right.” In a conversation in which no one could agree, it was the one universally accepted truth. Everybody — at the table and here on campus — stands by their views precisely because they believe them to be right. Of course, no one backs views they find faulty. But there are multiple sides to any debate, and unless you subscribe to some exceedingly extreme and annoying form of relativism, that means someone is wrong. What if that’s you?
On May 5, The Dartmouth Editorial Board published a piece titled “Verbum Ultimum: Real Term, Real Education” in which it addressed the deficiencies in course offerings and academic resources provided by the College during sophomore summer. As a required on-term for most undergraduates, sophomore summer serves both as part of a system to work around shortages in on-campus housing capacity, and as a way for sophomores to develop deeper connections with members of their own class, enjoy the beautiful Hanover summer landscape and take on leadership roles within the organizations they participate in. However, while sophomore summer is in so many ways a unique experience, it is still one that the College mandates and expects its students to treat seriously. By not supplying the same level and variety in course offerings or options for academic engagement, the College is counterproductively limiting the depth of that experience.
Last Friday, The Dartmouth prematurely published an account of a Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth lecture entitled “Archipelagic Entanglements,” where six panelists spoke about feminist ecology — one of whom was Rutgers University professor Jasbir Puar. The article also reported on an alleged incident in which Matthew Goldstein ’18 accused GRID director Annabel Martín of threatening him with force after he attempted to record the lecture.
If you’ve been on Facebook over the past few days, you’ve probably seen the hashtag #fight4facultyofcolor. Started in part as a response to the College’s decision to deny English professor Aimee Bahng tenure, the hashtag encapsulates a conversation that is taking place at both the College and the national level. Various higher education institutions, including Harvard University and Yale University, have seen discussions about minority faculty attraction and retention.
I am not a huge fan of the color orange. As someone who prefers my clothes to fit in rather than stand out, orange screams much too loudly for my everyday style. Heather grey, sure; check my top drawer and you’ll find plenty of that. Popsicle orange? No thanks. You’ll find just one flashy item, a t-shirt given to me as a member of Divest Dartmouth.
I’d like to preface this column by saying that it will likely be among the most unpopular I’ll write. But, with 16S drawing to a close and the start of senior fall just around the corner, I’m definitely not getting any younger — so here it goes.
While reading a book for my class about the Vietnam War, I wondered what the typical combat attire looked like for those engaged in guerrilla warfare. To answer my question, I did a quick Google Image search. While I found many helpful images, I also came across one that was particularly disturbing. It wasn’t, however, disturbing because it was particularly violent. Unlike the other pictures, images of soldiers clad in black clothing armed with weapons, this one depicted similar figures with rice paddy hats — but they were animated. That’s because this image was from a video game. Confused, I continued my Google Search and discovered that there are video games about the Vietnam War, including “Battlefield Vietnam” and “Conflict Vietnam,” as well as a Vietnam level in the popular video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” But the Vietnam War is not the only real war depicted in video games. Many volumes of “Call of Duty” focus on World War II. To some, the idea of virtually shooting animated people is already disturbing. Their typical argument is that virtual warfare desensitizes us to the emotional impact of actual war. Given the literal devastation that occurs after wars like World War II and the Vietnam War, real-war video games heighten desensitization not only to general warfare, but may discourage understanding difficult times in history and empathizing with those who have suffered.
As students, we must use social media sites such as Facebook with some distance and skepticism, recognizing the power they have over us. Almost all college students use Facebook; since its rise in the mid-2000s, it has become linked with social status, news and even activism. This holds especially true with the relatively new release of the trending articles sidebar — now, when news breaks, for many of us it breaks on Facebook first.
I just subscribed to the online version of the New York Times. Since then, I have found that the time I spend reading has increased significantly. Interestingly enough, so have the instances of browsing the internet at 4 a.m.
Scarcely two weeks have passed since my April 11 column “O’er The Land of the Free,” in which I took great relish in mocking our colleagues at Harvard University for referring to an American flag as an “unacceptable political statement.” I made my jabs with the understanding that this was, in many ways, a new low for academia. After all, who could have ever imagined that an Ivy League institution — in fact, to many the quintessential Ivy League institution — would lay claim to such diabolical self-censorship?
Without a doubt, one of Dartmouth’s biggest draws to prospective students is its outstanding alumni network and the jobs it offers. On the College’s website, it boasts that “a Dartmouth degree leads to success.” In this day and age when college costs are becoming increasingly insurmountable, return on investment matters, and Dartmouth delivers: in 20 years, our ROI is $822,600 — one of the best in the nation.
One of the most interesting characteristics of a Dartmouth education that distinguishes us from other similar institutions is the famous — or infamous — D-Plan. Not only well known as a death sentence for college romances, the D-Plan even serves to set us apart from other schools that use a quarter system. The strangest part of our system, which has prompted many a question like “Wait, you have to go to summer school?” is Dartmouth’s sophomore summer.
If this week’s reaction to last Saturday’s 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner is any indication, President Barack Obama was a better comedian than this year’s host, Larry Wilmore, host of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show.” Based on the reactions of the celebrities, political figures, pundits and journalists in the Washington Hilton ballroom last Saturday, you would think Obama was the comedian. Obama has traditionally done very well at the Correspondents’ Dinner, his success this year as a charismatic communicator and manipulator of the media is not an isolated event. Indeed, throughout his two terms as president, Obama and his administration have consistently shown themselves to be media masters. In our fast-paced 24/7 news cycle, being prepared to spin issues, frame actions and time public statements is an invaluable skill for the leader of the free world. Obama’s timing, charisma and media skills are impeccable, as evidenced by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech. Many conservatives would argue that the President’s media success is due to a liberal media bias. In reality, the media mastery is mostly due to a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping media coverage like friendly interviews and staged leaks and put them on steroids while adding new ones like social media, comedy, content creation and pop-culture references. Additionally, the liberal media is not the only media constituency benefiting from Obama’s savviness. Media organizations across the ideological spectrum are scrambling for access to Obama’s White House. Moreover, the American people love hearing from their president and do not hesitate to share and talk about Obama’s videos, photos, speeches and interviews on social media platforms. This has all led to a revolution in the White House-press relationship. The power balance between the White House and press has tipped toward the government. This is a development that the Obama White House — experts in digital media and no fan of the Washington press — has exploited effectively. Future presidents from both parties will copy and expand upon this approach. According to Mike McCurry, who was press secretary to former President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal “the balance of power used to be much more in favor of the mainstream press.” Nowadays, sensationalism and the endless media cycle has given the White House an opportunity to develop a media persona — contrary to the restraining effect one would expect. After all, a around the clock news cycle is primed for finding and blowing up every scandal, no matter its size. Obama and his adminstration have managed to turn this idea on its head by deploying well-organized and well-timed media statements that are often immeresed in the language and humor of the moment. During Saturday night’s dinner, Obama evoked current events. He used a video chock full of pop-culture references to depict a parody of his post-presidency plans. He chose to talk about GOP dinner attendees who were asked to order steak or fish, but who instead kept choosing House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying “that’s not an option, people.” Moreover, he cleverly skewered both the mainstream press and depicted his administration’s social media prowess, showing himself embroiled in a fictional Snapchat scandal. Ex-GOP presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz along with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are all well-spoken politicians, but none of them have the same media savviness and charisma that Obama demonstrated during his two terms. The 2016 presidential race has been largely dominated by mogul Donald Trump, who has repeatedly shown his media savviness. Using Twitter, Trump has managed to enthrall the news cycle, keeping all eyes on him. He may not be as eloquent as Obama, but Trump’s timing and charisma are as impeccable as the President’s. He is certainly better than Clinton at limiting, shaping and manipulating the media coverage of himself. Obama’s success as a media master provides an example for whoever finds themselves sitting in the Oval Office come 2017. Future presidents need to be prepared to handle the fast-paced news and social media cycle, and as Obama has demostrated, pop culture refreneces and charisma can go a long way. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, while not as serious as a solemn address to the country, is a lighthearted medium by which a president can develop a relationship with the public and show of their charm. The American public will certainly miss Obama’s charismatic personality — I know I will.
In the past week alone, Dartmouth has had seven different climate-centric events ranging from lectures on soil-vegetation-atmosphere interactions to panels discussing water crises in the Navajo Nation. All of these events were open to the public, with just one exception: “Climate Risk & Resiliency for Oil and Gas Companies” with David Hone, climate change advisor to Shell.
“Check your privilege,” is a phrase you’ve probably heard recently. Perhaps it’s been said to you, or maybe you’ve used it yourself. In essence, it is a reminder — typically directed at white, straight, financially well-off men — to be aware of the advantages they have been granted since birth. But, in addition to serving as a reminder, it also implies that because of those characteristics, a person of privilege is less able to speak about issues of race, class or gender inequity because he simply does not fit the bill of a person who might have combated one or more of those inequalities first-hand.
Last Thursday, a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers unveiled a revised version of a criminal justice reform plan that was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year. Although lawmakers and media sources have referred to this document as a general criminal justice reform bill, the proposed legislation, especially after being amended to appeal to Republican senators, is far too narrow in its scope and does not go far enough to address the discriminatory practices of the justice system that disproportionately impacts men of color in this country.
Almost exactly a year ago today, I made the decision to come to Dartmouth. Unlike many of my peers, my choice was not entirely an easy one. Picturesque Hanover was nothing like the bustling streets of New York City. It was by all means quieter and more beautiful, with the fresh air and grassy scent that seem all but impossible to find in the city, but it was also more isolated and far less familiar. Dartmouth gave me the ideal, dreamy “Ivy-League” education, but at a cost. From a financial standpoint, I could have chosen a college that offered me a merit scholarship equivalent to a full ride. This scholarship would have provided the opportunity for a guaranteed job at a prestigious institution for four years at no cost and would have been an excellent source from which to develop the skills I needed for the field I then imagined I would be heading into. But I decided to let my heart think, and I chose the dream instead.
To put it bluntly, I thought Divest Dartmouth was pointless. I strongly believe that climate change should be our foremost concern, but it seemed that Divest Dartmouth didn’t have any concrete goals, and I didn’t buy into the idea that “morally bankrupting” energy companies counted as doing anything productive. I’ve always been unenthusiastic about activism that doesn’t propose solutions or set goals. T-shirts and megaphones do not social change make. But I missed something in this analysis. There is a strategy to Divest Dartmouth, one that is less easily assigned a dollar value or measured in parts per million: making colleges divest is a way to tap into their symbolism and influence. In my view, divestment isn’t about affecting fossil fuel-burning companies’ finances — it’s about renowned institutions sending a message of urgency.
“Walang pasok sa Metro Manila,” the broadcaster announces. Classes canceled.
Mental health is complex and nuanced, and therefore many aspects of mental health are widely misunderstood, then neglected due to a combination of outdated stigmas and a lack of comprehensive scientific understanding. People often assume that mental health means only the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, ignoring the fact that everyone requires some mental upkeep, regardless of whether or not their specific experience fits the textbook definition of a mental disorder. There are few times in someone’s life when they are at greater risk of mental health challenges than when they are in college. Students face everything from experiencing loneliness, to dealing with, separation from one’s family to determining career paths. All of this exacerbates issues that many are already struggling with, and the data reflects this. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in three students reports having experience prolonged periods of depression, one in four students reports having suicidal thoughts or feelings, and one in seven students reports having difficulty functioning at school due to mental illness. The director of NAMI, Ken Duckworth of Harvard Medical School, highlights the importance of this issue, saying, “Undiagnosed mental illness can cause people to withdraw socially, drop out of school, engage in substance abuse, or exhibit other unsettling behaviors.” With the importance of mental health to our well being, as well as the risk that college students face regarding mental illness, one would think that this would be a top priority for schools all around the country, especially Dartmouth. However, the reality is that the College is not doing nearly enough to take care of us mentally, especially considering its stated goals in the past.