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Trustee Susan Dentzer's vision of student social life seems to be best embodied in her statement, "We want the students to have choices; we just want them to be very structured choices." This sentiment is little more than a thinly disguised way of informing the student body that it will choose from among one option. One option is no choice, and will allow for no debate.
As last night's forum came to a close, the steering committee co-chairs assured the audience they were open to discussion as they complete their deliberations over the course of Fall term. They offered that students could e-mail them with their suggestions, input and advice to contribute to the process.
The release of the Social and Residential Life Task Force Report revealed serious problems in the implementation process of the Trustees' initiatives. Approximately four months before the Steering Committee plans to announce recommendations about the College's social and residential life system to the full Board of Trustees, student ideas on those changes are still substantially absent.
The signing of a long-term lease with the College for The Dartmouth's current space in Robinson Hall is a historic event in the 200-year history of America's oldest college newspaper.
The passion and emotion surrounding the Trustees' Initiative hasmanifested itself in a student body split in two opposing directions, and this lack of a clear direction made itself apparent at the Student Assembly meeting last night. There were two distinct schools of thought - give them just enough so that they will allow the Greek system to stay, or give as little as possible in the hopes of holding out.
There is a very important vote on campus today:Coke or Pepsi. Oh wait, there's another vote that will decide the future of social life at the College, but no one knows what's going on with that because the electoral process for it is a disaster.
The choice of who will be selected to participate on the steering committee is going to be one of the most important decisions by the student body in our tenure at the College. This selection will almost certainly be as much a result of process as it will be a matter of the potential candidates from which to choose. The process in this case is of such importance because it will determine how well the student body will be represented on the committee. It cannot be overestimated how crucial a role these students will play in the future of Dartmouth. They are going to have to relate to the Trustees the values and the reality of student life on campus. They are going to have to stand up for what students hold dear in the face of a possibly unreceptive committee, and they are going to have to know when to compromise and when to hold their ground. A campus-wide election will not produce someone with the qualifications necessary for this committee. It would produce an affable, friendly person who gets along with a lot of people, and may know a lot of people. It will not produce someone who has the qualities necessary to stare down a Trustee. How well one runs a campaign, and how well one presents student views to this committee are not necessarily the same thing. The selection process should take the following form: There should be a well publicized application process to which any student may apply. After this, there should be an interview process by a Student Assembly committee. In addition, there should be an open process by which any student may offer opinions on the candidates to the committee. This will ensure that an informed, knowledgeable judgment can be made, with input coming from the entire student body. Student Assembly has experienced a diversification in its own representation over the past year. It is now more reflective of the composition of the student body, including an increase in the membership of Greek affiliated students. They should take advantage of this representation now by providing a more in-depth selection process than an election would permit. It would be easy for the Student Assembly to hold a campus-wide election to choose who gets these positions. This would put the onus of responsibility on the collective student body, and would allow SA to say that the students chose. This will not result in the best representatives, it will result in the best poster-makers, or the person who knows more people. The harder choice for the SA is to take on this burden of selection themselves; but if this is done with free student input on the individual merits of the candidates, it will surely result in the best representation.
At a time when the College is going through such tumultuous and turbulent changes, it is important that the student leadership and the students involved in decision making are aware of what exactly is in the best interests of the College and the students at this time. That should be their only consideration.
Much like the College itself, the Student Assembly is currently at a critical juncture. It faces a crisis in student support as well as dissension and indecision within. These problems are partially consequences of the recent announcement of the Trustees' initiative.
The University of Pennsylvania is currently a dry campus, much to the dismay of its students. The decision was made unilaterally, and with no student input. The declaration and the manner in which it was delivered outraged most students, and as a result a rally was held which more than 1,000 Penn students attended.
Hate and intolerance have no place at Dartmouth, and those who feel the need to force their beliefs on others need to get the picture that such behavior is not welcomed here. Those who intentionally hurt and offend others need to be marginalized on campus to the extent that they and others like them do not feel comfortable here.
President of the Student Assembly Josh Green is completely right in today's column criticizing the administration for its lack of interest in student opinion. The College has undergone many changes since its inception, and evolution is an integral part of Dartmouth. Now we need to change the way we change. We need to include students fully in the decisions that affect our lives.
Since the administration announced its new initiative a week ago today, they have sent conflicting messages to all segments of the Dartmouth community regarding what exactly the new initiative entails. Even after last night's question and answer session, many students were left shaking their heads and wondering what it all means.
We often hear people talking about the problems of the Greek system, but it is rare that these problems are defined. It seems that, ironically, the biggest problem with the Greek system is its own success. Members of Greek houses are strongly loyal to their letters, and Greek parties are the most highly attended social events on campus. The houses give members an intangible sense of contentment and belonging that only Greeks can fully understand.
Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson is now contemplating a decision as to whether the College should lock the exterior doors of all residence halls. He is rightly listening to the student outcry that resulted from simply the consideration of such a decision. According to Nelson's statements yesterday, the most likely alternative to leaving dorms unlocked would be a card swipe system. Estimates from the Residential Safety Committee indicate that such a system would cost $425,000 to install and an additional $5,000 annually to maintain.
The only Ivy League institution that does not lock the doors of its dorms is Dartmouth. It is a virtue of our location that we can afford to do this. Hanover is a very safe town, and most students feel comfortable here. Nonetheless, petty crimes are fairly common in the dorms, and the College has rightfully demonstrated concern over the issue.
The 2000 Directorate would like to welcome you to the bicentennial year of The Dartmouth's publication. As the only independent daily newspaper on campus, The Dartmouth is firmly committed to providing the best coverage possible of on and off-campus events. Toward this goal, we have instituted some changes to try to improve our service to the College community. The Dartmouth will now be available for delivery to your door, whether you are living on-campus or off. We hope this will make The Dartmouth more accessible to the entire community. Also, we have made a dramatic expansion in our coverage of Arts & Entertainment through the addition of the new Weekend Access section, which will appear as a pullout every Friday beginning this week. This new section will contain reviews of movies, books and music, as well as an expansion of Hopkins Center and national arts coverage. We will still be offering the same superior news and sports coverage including the Sports Extra every Monday. The purpose of The Dartmouth is to address the informational needs of the College community, and the 2000 Directorate is committed to upholding that purpose. Mere Distribution The manner in which the Campus Crusade for Christ planned to give out the book Mere Christianity was inappropriate and they were correct in their ultimate decision to hold off distribution. Protection for students against solicitation by campus religious groups is necessary, since its absence would potentially breed an environment of religious competition which would be detrimental to all students. It would be one thing if the book being distributed was purely informational, but C.S. Lewis' work specifically deals with the subject of conversion. It is therefore solicitous in nature. Still, attempting to distribute the book would have been acceptable if it were not done in a way which forced the material on students. The CCC crossed the line into forced solicitation when they planned to send the book to Hinman Boxes. Rather than offering the text in a public place and giving students the option of accepting Mere Christianity, the CCC planned to give them only an option to reject it, and one which was not publicized. Distribution of Mere Christianity through Hinman Mail would have invited religious rivalry rather than the religious education that the CCC claims to desire and the cooperation that the community needs.
Several recent incidents of insensitivity and ignorance on campus have highlighted the need for increased community understanding.
At its meeting on Tuesday night, the Student Assembly voted to return $5,000 of its $30,000 yearly allocation to the Undergraduate Finance Committee in a resolution urging the College to increase funding for student organizations.
The College's decision to provide cable television access in residence hall rooms this winter is a pleasant surprise and a step in the right direction.