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At the close of one of the most tumultuous weeks on campus in recent memory, we would like to reflect on what has transpired and articulate our hopes for the future. The decision to cancel classes on Wednesday was indeed a momentous one, and we are proud that students, faculty, staff and administrators came out in great numbers to reaffirm the values of our community. However, we remain skeptical of the administration's motives for the suspension of academic activity and are determined to see continued efforts by the College to keep Wednesday's conversations moving forward.
Yesterday evening, Interim President Carol Folt and seven other administrators sent a campus-wide email informing the Dartmouth community that all undergraduate and graduate classes in the arts and sciences would be canceled today. In place of classes, there will be numerous events including a lecture by a social justice consultant and "teach-ins" to be led by faculty and staff. While these actions certainly do represent a response, if belated, by the administration, they are completely one-sided.
On Friday evening, a small group of protesters forcibly entered the Class of 1953 Commons and interrupted the Dimensions show. These protesters were opposing racism, sexism and homophobia, which they cited as pervasive problems at Dartmouth. On Saturday, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson sent out a campus-wide email condemning threats that were made against the protesters. Both the protest itself and the subsequent threats against the protesters are utterly unbecoming of Dartmouth students. But what is even more disappointing is the administration's paltry and tame response to these events.
Welcome to Hanover, future '17s. With the best undergraduate education in the world, our passionate student body and profound sense of community, Dartmouth is much more than just another four years of school. It is an experience, an incredibly engrossing chapter of your life that will leave you forever connected to this campus.
Over the last several years, students have increasingly questioned Student Assembly's relevance. Past presidential candidates often promised more than they could possibly deliver, undermining the Assembly's credibility. Nonetheless, the Assembly can, and should, play a very important role on this campus, liaising with various student groups and between students and administrators. Dartmouth needs a student body president who is cognizant of the limitations of the position's power and will focus on fulfilling the Assembly's core functions instead of pursuing extraneous and unrealistic pipe dreams. With these considerations in mind, we believe Adrian Ferrari '14 is best suited to lead the Assembly over this next, crucial year in Dartmouth's history.
This weekend, the College celebrated 40 years of coeducation with the Greenways conference ("College Celebrates Coeducation," Apr. 8), welcoming alumnae back to campus for a series of panel discussions on career and life experiences. It was a rare and wonderful occasion, with speakers who are leaders across the fields of business, science and technology, media, arts, politics and academia. Yet it failed to provide the mentorship and personal connections to undergraduates, who obviously would have benefitted from interacting with alumni.
With the first housing applications for Fall term due today, the College's housing problems are again at the forefront of students' minds. Many of us have heard friends and classmates complain about the inconvenience of remote dormitories like the Lodge or the space constraints of one-room closets in Wheeler. Given the chronic shortage of quality housing, and considering that nearly 90 percent of students live on campus, the College should renovate some of its existing housing stock and add new, modern dormitories.
Yesterday evening, Dartmouth and its Ivy League peers released admissions decisions for the Class of 2017. Not only did Dartmouth have fewer applicants this year than last year, but the admission rate increased to 10 percent from 9.4 ("College admits 10 percent of applicants to Class of 2017," Mar. 29). Dartmouth is the only Ivy to increase its acceptance rate and, with the exception of Princeton University, the only one to see fewer applicants. While this development is unfortunate, it was nonetheless entirely predictable.
Yesterday, the College released nine strategic planning working group reports, detailing a two-year reflection process on Dartmouth's operations and priorities. Interim President Carol Folt invited students to provide input that will be synthesized and presented to President-elect Philip Hanlon when he arrives in July. Overall, the release of these long-awaited ideas is poorly timed and unhelpfully vague.
On Saturday, the Board of Trustees announced a significant increase in Dartmouth's cost of attendance ("College costs to rise 3.8 percent," Mar. 4). Next year, Dartmouth will become the second Ivy League institution after Columbia to exceed $60,000 per year in student costs. The raise, however, is actually the smallest percentage increase in Dartmouth's cost of attendance in over 10 years. These repeated, exorbitant hikes are distressing to current students and may explain much of the College's difficulty securing its yield in recent years.
This past month has seen exciting and much-needed developments in expanding study-abroad opportunities. The new offerings include a film foreign study program in Los Angeles and a public policy seminar that concludes with a trip to India. However, the College has a long way to go if it seeks to bring its full array of study abroad options in line with student interests and expectations.
As we move toward spring term and prepare to welcome prospective students from the Class of 2017 to Hanover, we are disappointed to hear that the admissions office is considering wholesale changes in programming for Dimensions weekend. Given that Dartmouth prides itself on putting together an exceptional Dimensions experience to welcome and woo the incoming class, we question the motives behind this change. The proposed alterations namely, eliminating the Dimensions show and its cast of freshman students strike deeply at Dartmouth's brand as an institution of higher learning. We understand the College's desire to highlight its intellectual side, but feel strongly that the proposed changes will do nothing to address the perceived problems with our yield.
With the impending departure of undergraduate judicial affairs director Nathan Miller at the end of this academic year, the College is in a position to make an influential hire. As the person who deals with student misconduct and disciplinary action, the undergraduate judicial affairs director must uphold rules in a transparent manner and focus on critical and sensitive aspects of student life. Given that a search committee within the Dean of the College's office is set to review applications for the job ("Undergraduate Judicial Affairs seeks director," Feb. 12), we hope that the College makes the most of this opportunity by appointing someone who will revamp what is regarded by most students as an obscure and intimidating system.
Winter Carnival is a time when students take a break from the pressures of coursework to come together and celebrate the season. Many Greek houses will host parties that are open to all of campus and alcohol will flow freely. This spirit of revelry unfortunately brings a darker side to Carnival, as sexual assault cases historically rise during big weekends. As students enjoy the weekend, they must keep this increased risk in mind, take necessary steps to prevent assault from occurring and remain aware of resources available to assault victims.
The first month of Winter term has seen a storm of controversy wash across these pages. From incidents of racism to related columns that have provoked fiery reactions in our community at large, it has been a busy and tumultuous few weeks. In a visible departure from its typical apathy, the student body has inundated The Dartmouth with an impressive volume of guest column submissions and letters to the editor vastly more than we can ever hope to publish. On this note, we would like to take the opportunity to remind campus of two key points.
Last Saturday morning, residents of the first floor of Brown Hall awoke to find racist graffiti scribbled on a white board ("Racist graffiti found in freshman cluster," Jan. 22). Just yesterday, our community received another message from the President's Office, informing us that race-based verbal harassment took place this week in the Class of 1953 Commons ("Second bias incident reported," Jan. 25). This campus has seen three incidents of racial bias in less than four months last November, residents of the third floor of Brown Hall found racist remarks written on campaign materials supporting President Barack Obama's re-election bid ("Incident Team reacts to bigoted vandalism," Nov. 9, 2012). The continued occurrence of these events is simply unacceptable.
The College recently announced that it will release termly reports on closed Organizational Adjudication Committee investigations of potential hazing cases. The first of these reports, which details the allegations against Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, was made public on the Undergraduate Judicial Affairs' website on Wednesday. While we hope that this measure will improve transparency by punishing violators and creating strong incentives to curb hazing, we wonder whether this is a true exercise in accountability or simply another effort by the College to keep up appearances.
The College recently announced that it will no longer accept pre-matriculation credits beginning with the Class of 2018. As a result of this policy change, new students will be unable to count Advanced Placement, A-Level and International Baccalaureate examination results as credits towards their diploma. While the reasons for this change are entirely understandable, the College must nonetheless work to address the financial consequences that this change may have on many students.
The appointment of President-elect Philip Hanlon '77 signals the next chapter in a rather tumultuous period in Dartmouth's history. The past year in Hanover has been marred by a hazing scandal, an ongoing problem with sexual assault and the resignations of several female and minority members of faculty and staff. Though we commend the search process for satisfying many of the basic conditions sought by students, faculty and alumni Hanlon is an alumnus, was chosen quickly and appears committed to a long tenure in Hanover it did not fully address outstanding issues related to diversity and student input. If Hanlon is to have a successful presidency, these issues cannot continue to fall by the wayside.
This has been a long and transformative year for Dartmouth's social culture, one often characterized by conflict between segments of the student body and the administration. New policies aimed at curbing harmful hazing practices and widespread binge drinking have been particularly significant sources of intense controversy.