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Verbum Ultimum: Mistaken on Inflation

(05/29/15 12:04am)

In the hopes of effectively combating a perceived intellectual laziness at this school, the ad hoc committee on grade inflation, chaired by biology professor Mark McPeek, published a 16-page report detailing proposed fixes for grade inflation at the College. We find the proposal's content and attitude toward students to be patronizing and misguided, divorced from the realities of modern college life by the committee's ideological tilt.

Verbum Ultimum: Inconsistent Accommodations

(05/22/15 12:33am)

On May 20, the College confirmed that it moved the start date of the upcoming fall term to Sept. 16 from Sept. 14 to avoid overlap with the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. To compensate, two special days of Saturday classes have been added to the fall term calendar. We cannot find fault with the College’s apparent motive of taking the religious obligations of students and faculty into consideration. Especially in light of Dartmouth’s history of institutional anti-Semitism, that the College will ensure that its Jewish students can celebrate an important holiday in their calendar and still attend the first day of class indicates that it has embraced a commitment to inclusivity and diversity rather than mere tolerance.

Verbum Ultimum: Reacting with Respect

(05/07/15 11:49pm)

On May 2, a group of students demonstrated outside Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity’s Pigstick party and Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority’s Derby event. Many have questioned the choice of the parties as a protest venue, and some have suggested that the demonstrators’ delivery, including the use of profanity and shouting, undermined their message. These are not the questions that should dominate our discussion. If the impulse on this campus is to hold demonstrators to standards of decorum, then perhaps we should first consider what standards we should uphold when we respond to a protest.

Verbum Ultimum: A Return to Intellect

(05/01/15 12:14am)

At the April 27 meeting of the faculty of arts and sciences, faculty members discussed potential changes to distributive requirements, class meeting times and grade inflation. Notable ideas include reverting the distributive requirement system to be similar to the one that was used prior to 1992, which used broad-based academic categories, and adding additional time slots for morning and evening classes. Some professors expressed concerns about steady grade inflation — biology professor Mark McPeek, in particular, made a compelling argument in favor of raising grading standards.

Verbum Ultimum: Adding Administrative Bloat

(04/23/15 11:31pm)

On April 13, Provost Carolyn Dever announced in a campus-wide email that interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer will serve as the College’s first vice provost for student affairs, effective July 1. Dever confirmed that this was a “change of title” for Ameer, as nearly all of her responsibilities will travel with her to her new position. Meanwhile, the Dean of the College’s role will be significantly reduced — the next dean will mainly be in charge of academic initiatives, including the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plans for academic programming in residential life.

Verbum Ultimum: Open Door Policy

(04/09/15 11:25pm)

The “Moving Dartmouth Forward” hard alcohol ban took effect nearly two weeks ago, and despite predictions of the policy’s negative repercussions, day-to-day student life has not seen any radical changes. Students have been notably mindful of the new restrictions — reports in an April 6 story from this newspaper indicate measured responses from students and Safety and Security officers alike. Greek leaders have taken steps to ensure that their houses’ members do not violate College policy. At this stage, however, what is concerning about the ban is not its immediate, visible effect on social events, but rather the prospect that administrators will ignore its long-term consequences.

Verbum Ultimum: Safety Over Sanctions

(03/06/15 12:59am)

This past Monday, the Office of the President, Palaeopitus senior society and Student Assembly hosted a town meeting on “Moving Dartmouth Forward” where administrators announced details of sanctions to enforce the hard alcohol ban. Students found to possess or consume hard alcohol will face a graduated scale of sanctions, with College probation for the first offense. Students with more than three infractions may face sanctions up to permanent separation from the College, decided at the College’s discretion. The College will also impose stricter sanctions for students and organizations that provide hard alcohol to others. These sanctions indicate that administrators take the hard alcohol ban seriously and will punish infractions accordingly.

Verbum Ultimum: Reevaluate Our Requirements

(02/20/15 1:14am)

Dartmouth is widely recognized for its dedication to liberal arts education, and as a part of that mission, students have to fulfill various distributive course requirements to ensure exposure to a wide range of subjects before graduating. As the College looks to increase academic rigor and revise the curriculum, now is the time to reconsider distributive requirements.

Verbum Ultimum: Ban Responsibly

(02/13/15 12:40am)

A campus hard alcohol ban was perhaps the most significant policy change that College President Phil Hanlon announced in his Jan. 29 “Moving Dartmouth Forward” address. Since then, colleges and national media outlets alike have debated the merits of the ban. Beyond the College’s talking points, there does not seem to be widespread agreement that this is indeed the way forward. The justification and arguments for the ban leave us unconvinced that this was the best possible tool at administrators’ disposal to ensure student safety and well-being.

Verbum Ultimum: Deflating with Caution

(02/06/15 1:12am)

While there may be no scheduled classes today, on any given day it’s likely that at least a few students have pulled an all-nighter to finish an assignment or exam. Enter Baker-Berry Library at any time throughout the term and you will see hundreds of students studying for hours on end. While College President Phil Hanlon has asked faculty “to consider a number of ways to increase the rigor of our curriculum” through unilaterally curbing grade inflation or having earlier classes, he should instead look to increase rigor by fixing structural inadequacies in the academic resources Dartmouth offers its students.

Verbum Ultimum: No Simple Solutions

(01/23/15 4:09am)

This past Tuesday, College President Phil Hanlon announced that the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” presidential steering committee submitted their final report. Hanlon will review their recommendations, formulate policy and present that policy to the Board of Trustees on Jan. 28. On Jan. 29, Hanlon will present his plan to combat binge drinking, sexual assault and exclusivity to the public.

Verbum Ultimum: A Shallow Promise

(01/16/15 3:43am)

Last week, President Obama announced his goal of making community college free “for everybody who is willing to work for it.” The plan would require over $60 billion in federal funds, and student eligibility for subsidies would be dependent on certain criteria, such as minimum grade point average and enrollment status. Critics have questioned how effective, both in terms of cost and outcome, such a move would be. While Obama’s plan is imperfect, we — as students with the privilege of attending Dartmouth — must recognize it as an important first step forward in making higher education more accessible nationwide.

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