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On March 23, Microsoft launched an artificial intelligence program known as Tay on Twitter. Tay’s developers intended for her to interact with people on Twitter in order to learn how millennials communicate. In less than 24 hours, though, Tay had gone from having the mindset of a friendly teenage girl to spouting racist and sexist language, even calling for the genocide of Jews and Mexicans. Having had its AI program coaxed by internet trolls into vehement xenophobia, Microsoft was forced to quickly remove Tay from Twitter.
Black privilege is a term that has been in the news lately, circulating implicitly and explicitly, both on CNN and at Donald Trump rallies as one cause for so-called “reverse racism.” As the name implies, black privilege is the idea that a person of color is afforded certain privileges based on the color of their skin. This is, to an extent, true — racial identity does come with certain privileges. Being able to define oneself as part of a group, for instance, can be an emboldening and enriching experience. The concept of black privilege, however, is most often mistakenly used in response to and with the same connotation as white privilege — that is, as pushback against the idea that whiteness comes with certain, unmerited advantages.Although a relatively new phrase, black privilege is not a new concept. It is the sting behind ignorant assertions such as, “That person only got into that school because they’re black,” or, “They get to say things that I don’t because I’m white.” It is the belief held by the ignorant that political correctness somehow oppresses those who do not wish to be politically correct. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is one of those people.Trump derives much of his popularity from rebelling against the system, by providing a space for hate to be exposed and for oft-unspoken points of contention to be vocalized. Many of his more fervent supporters use the concept of black privilege to protest political correctness, complaining that certain words, for instance, have become taboo for them or that they cannot voice their true feelings out of fear that they will be accused of being racist. Having thus acknowledged this, they then proceed to preach ignorance, spouting statements that are often either intentionally racist or so backwards in logic that they seem to convey a similar point. For instance, one Wisconsin man, when asked if he believed in white privilege, replied negatively. Those who embrace whiteness, he explained, are portrayed as racist, and said “If we had a White History Month, that would be viewed as a racist holiday.” He proceeded to cite Black History Month as an example of glaring inequality.All too often, the idea that blackness or minority status leads to privilege is the result of a superficial understanding of reality. According to the demographic information regarding Dartmouth’s newest group of admitted students, the Class of 2020 will be the first one comprised of a majority of people of color, who represent 51.6 percent of the admitted applicant pool. At first, this may seem peculiar considering that white people still make up the bulk of the United States’ population, with whites representing a whopping 77.4 percent. Upon closer review, however, it’s easy to understand why this is: Dartmouth accepts a disproportionate amount of students from cosmopolitan areas, in which white people are not always the majority. Furthermore, nearly a tenth of Dartmouth students come from overseas. Lastly, the admissions office seems to value diversity, boasting on its homepage, “At Dartmouth, you will be surrounded by the brightest and most diverse group of friends you’re likely to encounter anywhere.”For some white Americans, such a bold statement may be frightening. After all, white people are so accustomed to being the majority — so accustomed to their privilege — that any value placed on non-whiteness may be perceived as an affront to their sense of security, perhaps even their sense of self. White culture, to a large extent, is defined very stringently in contrast to the more richly developed identities of other races and, indeed, is based on a history of oppressing non-white peoples. In this sense, white culture is fragile. However, holidays such as Black History Month or greater numbers of people of color admitted to the College are not examples of inequality. Rather, they are examples of progress away from the historic inequity that continues to plague American society. Black History Month is a chance to learn about the history we are not taught in school, about the individuals who do not fit into the traditionally Eurocentric curriculum. And the changing demographics of admitted students, rather than indicating black privilege, represent the rise in college matriculation for non-white Americans, who naturally increase the diversity of the student body.Highlighting the diversity of a student body or celebrating Black History Month are not forms of discriminations against white people. Both are examples of pride — justifiable pride — being displayed for noteworthy accomplishments, and should not be called black privilege but, rather, what they actually represent: black pride.
Are you concerned about the increase in Dartmouth's acceptance rate this year?
Since the dawn of the digital era, the debate over privacy and security has been intense and fiercely controversial. It has morphed into a shouting match filled with abstract details and technical jargon, while the issue has become so politicized and polarized that a middle ground seems impossible to find. The matter has been portrayed as if personal privacy and national security lie on opposite sides of a spectrum, making it seem impossible to care more about one issue without caring less about the other. Recently, however, the debate has lost much of its exclusivity as a solely intellectual or political topic, finally reaching, even if only briefly, the mainstream dialogue.
“The Insane Campaign of John Kasich” — the title of a National Review article — indicates the exasperation of the usually moderate, well-reasoned conservative magazine. The article excellently summarizes the current mindset of many anti-Trump conservatives: Ted Cruz is the Republican Party’s only chance of beating Donald Trump, while John Kasich’s campaign is merely serving to better Trump’s chances. Most moderate conservatives are worried about Trump not just because of his abhorrent and largely incoherent political stances but also because of the damage his inevitable loss in the general election would do to the Republican Party. Trump’s policies, masquerading under the guise of conservatism, combined with the already fractured state of the GOP mean that a landslide loss to Hillary Clinton could send the Republican Party into disarray, causing immense and lasting damage to the party. In their desperation to avoid this political disaster, conservatives believe that they must turn to Cruz and that Kasich is running a selfish campaign. This, however, is the wrong strategy, grossly misjudging not only Kasich’s chances but also the damage a Cruz loss could cause.
As an independent voter and keen political junkie, the 2016 election has proven to be much more of a case study in sensationalism and “infotainment” than a legitimate litmus test of policy and issues for the American public. According to a report by SMG Delta, Donald Trump’s expenditures allocated to television advertising rank lowest amongst the running candidates. Despite not spending much on television advertising, Trump has managed to earn $400 million in free media via traditional sources of print and broadcast media as well as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, equaling Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz’s media shares in February combined.
For many of us, our first impression of Dartmouth as students was getting off of the Dartmouth Coach, frame pack in tow, for Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips. We looked out the window nervously as the bus circled the Green, and many of us saw flair-clad upperclassmen yelling and chasing the bus to the stop. The first thing we learn about Dartmouth is how fun, wacky and outgoing the people are, and how much they absolutely love their school. There was a huge banner on the outside of Collis that read “Welcome Home!” This attitude was pervasive throughout Trips: most every song, dance, speech and activity revolved around how people came into their own at and because of Dartmouth. It isn’t just Trips. Other traditions like Dimensions and prospective student tours paint a similar picture of Dartmouth as an amazing place for outgoing, energetic people who are thrilled just to be here. Unfortunately, this picture isn’t entirely realistic and it is often problematic.
Given recent changes at the College, would you enroll as a ’20?
Last Monday, Obama made history by becoming the first sitting United States president to visit Cuba since 1928. The momentousness of the occasion was not lost, except maybe on Cuba’s current president Raúl Castro. While politicians and members of the press hailed Obama’s trip to the island as a historic triumph, the Cuban dictator apparently thought otherwise. Indeed, he did not even bother to greet the first family at the airport. Instead, the Obamas were received by a number of the regime’s dignitaries, including Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez and Cuban ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cabanas. White House staff quickly came to Castro’s defense, claiming it was “never contemplated or discussed” that he would attend the landing of Air Force One at Jose Martí International Airport.
Last week I saw “Whisky Tango Foxtrot,” a movie based on the story of journalist Kim Barker’s war reporting in Afghanistan. Something about the movie struck me as unusual. Unlike many heroines in action movies, she was unabashedly portrayed as naïve and uncool at the beginning of the movie. Unlike beautiful fellow journalist Tanya Vanderpoel, Barker did not know how to navigate parties or find her way around Afghanistan. But despite her initial struggle and, according to her peers, her lack of beauty, she was the winning protagonist. I realized that the movie seemed unusual because female heroines on screen are almost always effortlessly beautiful and, therefore, cool. The explicit importance of heroines’ beauty in movies, compared to the insignificance of the appearance of male heroes perpetuates the idea that true validation for an onscreen (and sadly, sometimes off-screen) heroine lies in her beauty.
The debate over nominating a new Supreme Court justice has brought out the worst in political party leaders. Republican leaders have vowed to not give any of the Obama administration’s nominees a hearing. Ted Cruz even promised to filibuster any of Obama’s nominees.
Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he will veto HB 757, a bill passed by the Georgia state legislature last week regarding what its proponents define as “religious freedom.” HB 757, as it was passed in the Georgia senate about a week ago, aims to “protect faith-based groups that refuse to serve or hire someone for religious reasons,” according to a CBS News report from March 24. The bill has been in the media for two years now, attracting both vocal support and opposition. Supporters have particularly cited the federal developments in same-sex marriage over recent years, while opponents claim that the bill legalizes discrimination. I commend governor Deal’s intent to veto the bill and urge other governors facing bills such as HB 757 in the future to do the same.
Nary a day goes by without mention of the words “cultural appropriation” in American universities, and most recently they have come to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. On Feb. 22, the college’s dean of students sent an email to campus regarding an instance of “ethnic stereotyping.” The incident in question was a “tequila party,” at which some students wore sombreros and which was quickly construed as an offensive stereotyping of Hispanic students. In response, the Bowdoin Student Government issued a “statement of solidarity” decrying the party as “unacceptable” and calling for the administration to “create a space” for students who felt targeted by the party. Two of the Student Government’s own members even faced impeachment proceedings for attending the party.
For many students at Dartmouth, the Dartmouth Outing Club comprises a warm, welcoming and utterly inclusive community. In addition to providing a valid alternative and/or supplement to Greek life and offering a haven to passionate outdoorsmen and women, the DOC supplies all necessary and otherwise expensive equipment to involved students and has been ramping up its efforts to widen the availability of financial aid for all trips. As well as being the oldest collegiate outing DOC in the nation, the DOC is often praised for its extensive student membership — over a quarter of students are members. There has been a dialogue addressing issues of diversity and inclusivity within the DOC for years, and such dialogue oftentimes occurred in the DOC far before appearing elsewhere on campus.
I just divested myself of any stock I owned in companies which produce or burn fossil fuels. I thought it might be useful to share with the Dartmouth community how I came to that decision. You would think that an ’81 who bought his first position not long after graduating, then went to Harvard Business School and forged a business career would never ditch the attractive yields in the oil and energy sectors. It has a lot to do with becoming a the parent of a ’14 and thinking ahead to the day when I could become a grandparent of a ’34.
U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings are constantly critiqued, decried and loudly dismissed. But in the hearts of prospective students and college officials, they hold a secret power. They held a power over me during my own college search not long ago and play a role in my younger sister’s, which is just beginning. With no familial or athletic connection to any one particular university and parents who simply attended local colleges, our search had to start somewhere. To even admit the credence, I, as a junior and senior in high school, gave to the rankings feels wrong. The myriad of college rankings reflect, perhaps poorly, the state of higher education. But what I find most interesting is the dichotomy between universities and liberal arts colleges. It’s a dichotomy that Dartmouth doesn’t fit into. Yet, this division dictates a list that — despite universal criticism — holds incredible sway over prospective students’ decisions.
Last term, I consistently used a quarter of my weekly meal swipes. Regularly skipping breakfast and lunch, I quickly finished off my DBA as a result of my newfound KAF addiction. As a result, I made the switch to the Convenience 45 plan, with a weekly allotment of five swipes. With more than $900 in DBA, I had full faith in my ability to manage my KAF addiction while still using meal swipes at other dining locations.
It has been roughly one year since the campus-wide ban on hard alcohol was implemented. Last winter, College President Phil Hanlon announced the policy shift as part of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” initiative. Beginning last spring, students in possession of alcoholic beverages containing more than 15 percent alcohol by volume were subject to stricter action by the College. The new policy was intended to create a safer, healthier campus culture. By outlawing hard alcohol, the administration hoped to curb high-risk behavior and address issues such as binge drinking and sexual assault. However, whether the new policy has accomplished what it set out to do remains debatable.
When I think of common college experiences, I imagine movie nights with friends, hiking in the woods and, at worst, stressing over midterms. So to hear that Kate Carey, a behavioral and social sciences professor at Brown University, wrote in an editorial accompanying a Center for Disease Control report last year that “rape is a common experience among college-aged women,” I was surprised and appalled. According to the report, roughly 20 percent of women are sexually assaulted during college — a number much too high for a situation much too grim.
Stop Trump. Now.