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College President Jim Yong Kim is unpopular among many students these days. Many pieces have been published in The Dartmouth criticizing our president, from Verbums to opinion columns to Mirror articles. Nearly all the people I've talked to about Kim have expressed some kind of serious disappointment in him. He is the man everyone loves to hate. In short, much of the campus is suffering from a shared psychological state that I like to call Kim Disillusionment Syndrome (KDS).
This Wednesday you will probably see a lot of people walking around with stuff on their foreheads. No, it's not dirt, so please don't try to rub it off our foreheads for us (yes, I know people this has happened to). The stuff, rather, is ashes of palm branches, and Catholics wear it every year on Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the penitential season that precedes Easter. Although this may all seem relatively unimportant to the average Dartmouth student, the Lenten season actually has importance for all of us.
The potentially offensive language regarding men that Judge Jennifer Sargent used at the "Proud to be a Woman" dinner ("Dinner Kicks Off V-Time Festivities," Feb. 15) has obscured the more important point that Sargent was making in her keynote speech. According to The Dartmouth's article on the event, she was pointing out that unhealthy competition over men pits women against themselves, when women should be uniting against trends that are harmful to them as individuals and as a group. Obviously, sexual abuse is the most harmful feature of male-female relationships that still persists on this campus. But we would be wrong if we denied that there are more subtle aspects of the Dartmouth culture that are rooted in the abuse of women.
As someone with an interest in the Middle Ages, I am again taking some courses this term that relate to that era. In every medieval class I've taken, the professors have had to dispel the numerous popular beliefs about the period. Listening to the familiar myth-busting this term, I was reminded of a phrase coined by C.S. Lewis "chronological snobbery" which he defined as an attitude that one age is superior to other eras simply by virtue of coming after them. In our case, we think of ourselves as vastly more advanced than the miserable, violent, illiterate, pre-industrial, barbaric, superstitious past.
In remarks about the search for the next Dean of the College, College President Jim Yong Kim noted that he wanted somebody for the job who will do exciting things with student life. While I look forward to a reinvigorated dean's office that will more effectively serve the needs of student life, I think there is a more fundamental area that screams out for new vitality: the academic experience. For many students I know, real passion and enthusiasm are lacking with respect to their academic careers here.
As those who have had the opportunity to read Plato know, Socrates' archenemies were the group of professional teachers and rhetoricians known as Sophists. Socrates disliked the Sophists because they were highly educated and articulate individuals who, instead of using their skills to pursue truth and goodness, denied that such things existed. Amoral and valueless themselves, they taught their students to defend any position and argue any point, changing their views as it suited their interests. Instead of using their erudition responsibly and virtuously, they sold it to the highest bidder. Carneades, perhaps the paragon of Sophistry, is a helpful illustration of their principles; one day he gave a speech praising justice, and on the very next he refuted all his previous arguments and attacked the same.
When I read the recent column by Roger Lott '14, a reasonable call for modesty and respect in conversations about sex ("Explicit Signals," Oct. 28), I did not expect the campus to agree with him. Having written on this subject before, I am all too well aware of people's inability to see past their passionate preferences for over-sexualized campus culture. Attempts like those made by Lott to invite the campus to reflect a bit on its evangelical sexuality will inevitably fall on deaf ears.
Charlie Clark '11 ("Oh the Humanities," Sept. 27) recently argued that if we as a college truly appreciated and valued the humanities, we would reshape the curriculum by reducing specialization and establishing a core curriculum. While I sympathize with his proposal, and have myself argued along similar lines before, I think there are deeper systemic problems in the education of most Dartmouth students that mere specialization could not remedy.
At one point in the movie "Metropolitan," a few characters are debating whether or not to play a game in which the players must answer any question they are asked no matter how embarrassing or how revealing the answer. Audrey Rouget, one of the film's protagonists, sensibly objects to the game, arguing that there are good reasons why people don't go around telling others their most intimate thoughts. Nonetheless, the others are unable to see how the truth could ever hurt anyone. "You don't have to," Audrey responds. "Other people did, that's how it became a convention people saw the harm that excessive candor can do."
Raza Rasheed '12 seemed very distressed in his recent column about the egregious fraud that is perpetrated on students during sophomore Summer ("Sophomore Summer Swindle," June 29). While I share his concern about the dining options this term which, anyway, are not intrinsic to sophomore Summer, but are a temporary imposition on our class this term I think he really overstates his case.
This spring break I went on an Aquinas House Alternative Spring Break trip to Phoenix, Ariz., and worked at Maggie's Place, a home for homeless pregnant women. I was impressed with the personal way the staff and volunteers at Maggie's Place approach their work. It is easy, especially for Dartmouth students who are so isolated from, well, everything, to think of service and charity in a pretty impersonal way. We give money to Haiti, or we help rebuild a house with Habitat for Humanity, or we run a clothing drive, but there is a tendency to spend relatively little time talking with or thinking about the people we are helping. As Mother Theresa said, "Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them."
On Thursday Feb. 25, the group responsible for the Generic Good Morning Message famous for its racist joke last year about College President Jim Yong Kim ("E-mail on Kim stirs controversy," Mar. 5, 2009) sent one containing an offensive and disrespectful joke parodying Christianity and Jesus Christ.
I don't know about everyone else, but I have grown increasingly disillusioned with classroom learning since I came to Dartmouth. Whereas in high school I would look forward to going to class, I now have to force myself to get up in time for class ever morning. Whereas I once waxed eloquently about the importance of the liberal arts and learning for learning's sake, I now find myself pushed into an increasingly mercenary state of mind. Give me my degree and that's that. My goals for college academics have deteriorated from high ideals about improving myself and my mind to the following sentiments: just get though this term, just get through this week, just get through this class.
As anybody with an ear to hear knows, the current budget shortfall and the various suggestions as to how to fix it are highly sensitive and controversial topics. And even though some general projects have just recently been announced, the details have yet to be worked out. Everyone has an opinion about how to implement and tweak the administration's overall plan, and usually their opinion is a strong one. But Dartmouth needs to face the facts squarely: we do not have enough money to fund everything anymore.
This past Friday was the 37th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. For the past 36 years, hundreds of thousands of pro-life people (approximately 300,000 this year) have gathered annually in D.C. on that anniversary to march on the Supreme Court. I had always wanted to go to the March for Life, but this year was the first time I was able to make it. Unexpectedly, the prevailing emotion that I felt during the March was complete and utter shock. I was in shock because at least as far as I could see, the majority of the people at the March were young most no older than 25. Moreover, they were all, or at least seemed, peaceful, joyful and friendly.
Dartmouth is a community with a collective emotional atmosphere that can be healthy or unhealthy. Dartmouth's emotional landscape is obviously complex and has many factors, but I want to talk about just one of them here our apparent aversion to risk. Sure we do things that would look like risks to a Dartmouth outsider, like jumping in a freezing cold pond in the middle of winter and getting trashed on weekends. But these aren't really risks, they are part of typical contemporary college culture and it requires almost nothing to conform to them. While there may be many other reasons for our avoidance of risk, I think it is observably true for a significant amount of people in this overachieving community that they don't take risks because doing so carries the possibility of failure. In some situations, risk taking can be both healthy and important for the personal growth of Dartmouth students.
Yesterday, Aaron Golas '07 published an editorial accusing a guest columnist of dismissing "a decades-old tradition of editorial cartooning and centuries-old tradition of satire." This comment was the latest chapter in a two-week long exchange in the pages of The Dartmouth.
In her column "The Right Reasons" (Nov. 11), Emily Baxter attempts to castigate the recent decision by the Catholic Church to admit conservative Anglican priests into the fold. Unfortunately, in her eagerness to indict the Church, Baxter makes a number of theological and logical missteps. Above all, she makes the fatal mistake of assuming that difference inherently means inequality.
The latest Dartmouth controversy concerns a Mirror piece written by a disaffected Dartmouth student, Matthew Ritger '10. Ritger, in both his original piece ("The Gospel According to Matthew," Oct. 9) and his follow-up ("The Gospel According to Matthew," Oct. 16), displays a commendable concern for the problem of sexual abuse, one which I wish all Dartmouth students shared as passionately. He also correctly identifies other severe problems with the social atmosphere at Dartmouth. He is, however, deeply misguided in placing the blame on the fraternity system.
The world's youth have always been notorious for their political activism and passion. Such passion often spills into the opinion columns of The Dartmouth. Whether the columns are about health care, alumni involvement or any number of other issues, one is always likely to find an opinion on the latest controversial issue in this newspaper.