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Earlier this summer, plastic straws were in the news. Seattle banned plastic utensils from bars and businesses, Starbucks announced it will stop using plastic straws by 2020, and major companies such as McDonald’s are joining the movement to end the use of single use plastics. It’s hard to imagine a time without plastics, but widespread use only dates back to the early 1950s. Over the past six decades, we’ve produced over eight billion metric tons of plastics – a number that continues to rise exponentially – of which only nine percent has become recycled. The plastic straw movement draws attention to the importance of replacing single use plastics once and for all. While the cost of change may appear prohibitive and daunting, we need to replace single use plastics with more durable materials, as the former damage the environment, food chain, and human health, both within our communities and around the world.
Despite my interest in politics, I have no plans to run for political office anytime soon. While I firmly believe that political participation is important at any age, the rush of millennials to run for public office in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency is an ineffective and reactionary approach, and it’s not what America needs right now. College-aged students are inexperienced, unprepared and are substituting legislation for political activism and protest.
Democracy rests on people’s ability to respectfully disagree. When America’s democratic fabric has eroded to the point where political opponents become incorrigible enemies, the last thing it needs is more incivility. Unfortunately, incivility is the type of discourse many people seem to promote.
After completing my first year at Dartmouth, taking a step back from campus life was almost as overwhelming as plunging into it. Life back in the “real” world moves slowly, particularly if one’s off-term does not include an internship, a research grant or any other educational endeavor. Friends go home at the day’s end, and no regularly scheduled club meetings fill up one’s evenings. Students find themselves with a lot of free time and little idea of what to do with it.
Activism can seem like a dichotomy, with little leeway between social justice warrior and champion of the status quo. But limiting people to these two categories obscures the effectiveness of a quieter form of activism that occurs within, not against, the status quo.
A friend, a relative, an Olympian and an old teammate: Four people who, though they did not do so knowingly, contributed in one way, shape or form over the past week to challenge my view of the world. It may sound hyperbolic, or tinged with shades of a philosophical game of Clue, so let’s start somewhere light: Green Key.
May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM) in the United States, and Dartmouth has been recognizing the month through programming over the past few weeks. The theme of this year’s AAPIHM at Dartmouth has been “Counter Currents: Beyond the Surface,” which was meant to highlight and uplift identities and narratives that are typically subsumed and homogenized within mainstream definitions of “Asian,” “Asian-American” and “Pacific Islander.” Much of the programming planned by this year’s AAPIHM committee has centered around deconstructing perceptions of identity and making new connections and solidarities with those identities, which typically do not get included in popular discourse of what being “Asian” is. This impulse toward further reflection, critique and inclusion in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities should be lauded. In my view, Pan-Asian activists and community members should take a step further and seek to deconstruct how “Asia” emerged as a geographical unit in order to understand how and to what degree myriad people from various populations in “Asia” do and do not self-define as “Asian.”
I don’t mean to open old wounds, but it’s time to have a conversation about the 2016 election and its media coverage. In an age when various kinds of media have more influence over political campaigns than ever before, the 2016 election stands out. The vast and particularly damning negative coverage of Donald Trump, which did little to slow his campaign, seems to be reflective of an era during which the conventional wisdom of “no coverage is bad coverage” is correct. If this is true, how should the public consider and value the media coverage of campaigns, and to what extent do politicians themselves now play a role in creating their own press?
Phones are windows to a digitized world, and people are on either side. The beat of a finger tapping is staccato, like a modern-day attention span. Memory has become a camera that is never turned off. Meet the Millennials.
For students considering pursuing a career in either the government or nonprofit sectors, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program may seem ideal. For example, the average medical student’s debt is $190,000. But as over 75 percent of hospitals are public or nonprofit, 95 percent of these loans are eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Teachers, Peace Corps workers and many other professionals are also eligible.
My favorite YouTube channel is “i’m cyborg but that’s ok,” named after a 2006 South Korean romantic comedy film called I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK directed by Park Chan-wook. The YouTube user edits feature-length films, mostly independent Asian or French new-wave cinema, down to two to five minutes and pairs the visuals with a song. Similar YouTube users who are less careful about acknowledging content rights have had videos removed. There is an art to splicing and editing, and copyright law should take into account the value of using found footage to allow for reflections of the fragmentation and intertextuality of modernity. YouTube edits create an aesthetic of transnational, transtemporal coolness — little-known gems of art from different parts of the world and different times that come together through a shared emotional core.
In the United States, as in many Anglophone countries, each voter lives within a legislative district and is awarded one vote. The voter then casts that vote for a candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. Each district elects one member, has one
President Donald Trump has made a grand show of the Iran nuclear deal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, often referred to by its acronym JCPOA, enjoys broad international support. The JCPOA isn’t perfect, but it includes about as many concessions as the Iranians are willing to give. So far, the deal has worked, significantly decreasing Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons. And let’s not forget: the alternative to the JCPOA is not a better deal. The alternative is an unchecked Iran on a rapid path to a nuclear bomb.
Since the Jerry Sandusky scandal and Timothy Piazza’s hazing-related death early last year, Pennsylvania State University has walked on eggshells. Another safety infringement will send the university’s name right back into the news headlines while they cannot afford the negative publicity. Necessarily, they’ve examined safety procedures in organizations across campus in order to mitigate any future safety risks, assessed emergency procedures, set minimum requirements for medically-certified leaders to club participant ratios and reviewed the risks involved in each club’s activities. All of these measures may help keep the university’s name out of unwanted press headlines and ensure the safety of current and future Penn State students, but when precaution translated to shutting down of one of the university’s major clubs, the administration went a step too far.
A common perception at Dartmouth is that there is a plethora of opportunities for students to volunteer. Students are bombarded with emails inviting them to apply to programs like START, build and repair local homes or buy McDonald’s to help raise funds for a local nonprofit. But short-term or low commitment volunteer events are far and few between.
According to a recent survey by College Pulse, a majority of Dartmouth respondents have violated the law; until this past fall, they could have faced jail time. New Hampshire has since done away with that penalty, but every one of these students could still face substantial fines. Their crime? Smoking weed.
Students wake up at around the same time, go to class, attend meetings, eat several structured meals, go out, go to bed and do it all again the following day. Then again the following week. Then the following term. Barring exceptions and unexpected circumstances, these terms of routine turn into years. In fact, a survey by OnePoll found that 67 percent of Americans feel like their lives barely stray from their routines. This routine extends far beyond the way people partition the time they have and permeate their mindsets and habits as well — all integral parts that represent individual identity.
As Dartmouth’s identity stands at the crossroads between liberal arts college and research university, College President Phil Hanlon’s Call to Lead campaign launches many ambitious initiatives that promise to improve Dartmouth’s mixed model. The campaign’s cornerstone proposal to turn the West End of campus into a hub for engineering, computer science, business and design radically rethinks this mixed model and pushes Dartmouth into uncharted territory. While integrating these connected fields into one community could foster interdisciplinary thinking and a liberal arts approach to business-oriented pursuits, the proposal could also geographically, culturally and academically divorce the traditional humanities and social sciences from their modern counterparts. There are tremendous potential academic and social benefits associated with this new vision for the West End, but if Dartmouth fails to prevent its new ecosystem from becoming an inward-looking bubble, the College will face an identity crisis and watch its mixed model collapse into division.
In April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a number of fraternities at Dartmouth closed their basements on the Friday of the first weekend. While their effort to stand in solidarity with those who have been sexually assaulted is laudable, such basic initiatives, including the #MeToo movement, fail to capture the complexity of the issue. These initiatives do draw attention to the prevalence of sexual assault, but they are relatively unidimensional and do not engage with issues about sexual assault that are harder to face, creating a false sense of resolvability. It is important that fraternities at Dartmouth College are acknowledging culpability for perpetuating sexual violence, even if only in a small way. However, limiting action to the physical space of a fraternity removes responsibility from individuals. Furthermore, this limited action does not address the fact that many assaults happen outside of basements and in intimate spaces with familiar people.
There are a million and one factors that play into deciding where to go to college, but for me one reigned above all others: location. Like many Dartmouth students, and particularly those involved in the Dartmouth Outing Club, I was drawn here by the White Mountains, the accessible rivers and the hiking trails that run right through campus. Hanover’s Main Street even makes up a small portion of the Appalachian Trail, and thru-hikers regularly stop for some company and a place to rest in Robinson Hall. Dartmouth’s natural surroundings differentiate it from hundreds of other schools that prospective students choose between. Members of this community recognize Dartmouth’s environment as an asset through green initiatives scattered all over campus. As always, though, there is so much more that students could be doing to show their appreciation for the College’s natural surroundings. Fortunately, the positive environmental change we need could spring easily from small amendments to our on-campus dining spaces.