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Last spring, the Greek Leadership Council enacted a policy change that barred freshmen from entering Greek houses until after Homecoming weekend. This policy represents a student-led attempt to take ownership of campus life issues and help prevent binge drinking and sexual assault. With Homecoming now upon us, members of the Class of 2017 will soon be allowed to enter Greek houses, and the community will begin to evaluate the relative effectiveness of the policy. At the present moment, however, it appears that this evaluation will be nearly impossible due to a lack of data on the relevant topics.
On Wednesday, The New York Times published an unflattering portrait of the status quo here at Dartmouth. It was no secret that the Times' higher education reporter was visiting campus last week. He was spotted sitting in front of Collis, walking through Baker Hall and taking pictures of fraternities' beer can-filled trash heaps on Webster Avenue. Unfortunately, the net result of the visit was a barely newsworthy story that unfairly implies that College President Phil Hanlon is in over his head.
This past month has seen two positive developments regarding increasing educational opportunities for high-achieving students from low-income households. Dartmouth and 11 other universities recently joined Say Yes to Education, a nonprofit that offers free tuition to low-income students, and the College Board recently began to take steps to increase college application rates by high school students who perform well on standardized tests and come from low-income households. While we commend both Dartmouth and the College Board for these actions, we believe Dartmouth must take further steps to make campus a more welcoming place to students from low-income families.
Any leadership succession tends to elicit expectations for future performance. Fortunately, most reports coming out of Hanover this summer sang praises of Hanlon's efforts to engage with the student body. That he has met with over 700 students, faculty and staff since taking office in June speaks volumes about his willingness to listen. Hanlon plans to continue holding regular office hours and is even teaching a section of Math 11 this fall. Students have longed for a president who could thoughtfully catalogue their concerns, and early returns suggest that we may have found one. We anticipate that Hanlon will announce his new policy initiatives today and eagerly await this news. Perhaps Dartmouth will finally receive the undergaduate-centered direction that we lacked under former president Jim Yong Kim.
Welcome to Dartmouth! As you assume your new role, you will take the helm of an institution that is in a state of flux. Over the past few years, the College's administration has seen significant turnover, and even more recently, the undergraduate student body has seen a dramatic split over campus issues. As you assume your new role, you will need to quickly get your administrative house in order to effectively pursue the goal of making Dartmouth have the best undergraduate experience in the country.
Tonight's Green Key concert, featuring Shaggy and ASAP Rocky, represents the culmination of a dramatic year for Programming Board. Dating back to the controversial location and ticket sales for Avicii last winter, the last large concert it sponsored, the group's record in planning and running music events is far from sterling. Programming Board's operations have been marked by a lack of organization and transparency, and are in dire need of improvement.
Our three-part series on sexual assault, published last week, noted the Committee on Standards' failure to release a community report since the 2009-2010 academic year. Prior to 2010, COS released annual reports detailing its operations, and is expected to publish these reports annually, according to the Dartmouth Student Handbook. It is both irresponsible and unethical for the individuals charged with writing these reports to shirk their duties. This abdication of responsibility is especially galling given student uproar related to sexual assault over the past weeks and months.
Earlier this week, The Dartmouth reported that the Interfraternity Council will likely ban freshmen from Greek houses where alcohol is being served for a portion of fall term. Last night, the IFC held a meeting for fraternity executives to voice their opinions regarding the potential new policy. While we commend the IFC for finally taking a proactive stance on high-risk drinking among freshmen, we recognize that there are potential upsides and potential downsides to this proposal, which may necessitate further changes to the College's residential policies.
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.