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Over the past several years, Dartmouth has put a great deal of emphasis on strengthening its graduate programs and research departments, particularly in the fields of health care and the sciences. Prominent recent examples include an initiative to catapult the Geisel School of Medicine into the top 20 in medical school rankings, the construction of the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center and the creation of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science. While these developments have certainly worked to demonstrate Dartmouth's desire to become a respected research university, critics have voiced concerns that the College has moved away from its focus on the liberal arts and that this reorientation may come at the expense of non-science fields and undergraduate education.
Over the summer, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson introduced a number of new harm reduction policies with the stated goal of mitigating threats to the health and safety of the student body by addressing the problem of binge drinking. Her proposals, some of which are slated to take effect Sept. 21, have been met with resentment and criticism from many sections of campus both for their content and the manner of their delivery. Although the administration and Greek leaders have made some headway in recent weeks in finding common ground, the continuing disagreement and unwillingness on the part of both sides to fully consider other points of view has made it unlikely that they will work effectively to combat unsafe drinking on this campus.
Over the past two weeks, Presidential Search Committee Chairman Bill Helman '80 and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Mandel '78 have sought input from the student body about which qualities to look for in Dartmouth's 18th president. Last Thursday, only about 30 students attended a discussion hosted by Helman and Mandel to discuss these issues ("Forums gather input for search," May 18). While we commend Helman and Mandel for reaching out to students during this important transition period, we hope that the poor attendance at the forum is not reflective of a general lack of interest among the student body in the search for the College's next president.
The last few weeks have seen an outburst of students expressing interest in seeing the administration address persistent student concerns. One prominent issue that has been widely discussed is the need to reform and revamp academic advising. Students often complain that they struggle not only in navigating the complex process of meeting distributive and major requirements but also in crafting a cohesive academic plan that takes into account their diverse interests that extend beyond their coursework.
A month ago, The Dartmouth Editorial Board criticized Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson for her seeming disengagement from the student body ("Verbum Ultimum: Open the Door and Listen," April 13), and we were not the only group on campus to express frustration with the apparent disconnect between students and administrators. Former Student Body President Max Yoeli '12 called for more direct communication from administrators, and various student organizations expressed concern that their voices were not being heard ("Administrators remain disconnected, some say," April 12).
Last week, the Housing Office announced that it would expand gender-neutral housing next fall to include Mid-Massachusetts Hall, the Lodge and sections of New Hampshire Hall ("College to expand gender-neutral housing options in fall," April 26). This change marks a positive step toward increasing housing flexibility, giving students the option to live with whomever they want in a wider variety of rooms without committing to the programming required of the affinity housing program in Fahey-McLane Hall.
Last Monday, copies of "pledge notes" were distributed anonymously throughout the Choates residence hall cluster. In part, the document served as a sobering reminder of the persistence of negative stereotypes and disrespectful attitudes toward women among certain members of the Dartmouth community.
The Board of Trustees' decision to appoint Provost Carol Folt as interim College president was no doubt an expected and logical move. As Dartmouth's second-highest ranking administrator, Folt is an integral part of College President Jim Yong Kim's administration, and her appointment will allow for a smooth leadership transition following Kim's departure to the World Bank on July 1.
This year's Student Assembly elections have certainly been exciting, featuring far more candidates for both president and vice president than in recent years. As Dartmouth awaits a major transition with the imminent departure of College President Jim Yong Kim, the student body president will play a crucial role in ensuring that student interests are given proper consideration both during the transition period and in the search for the College's next leader. At the same time, issues surrounding student life have earned the College significant attention from alumni, the broader community and the national media. We need an Assembly president who is engaged with the wide variety of issues facing the Dartmouth community, who understands the challenges facing the Assembly and who is capable of being a strong advocate for students. We believe the candidate who is most qualified to serve in this role is J.T. Tanenbaum.
In recent months, Dartmouth students and alumni have discussed ad nauseam the role of the College's administration in addressing issues facing student life. Many members of the community have directed their criticism toward College President Jim Yong Kim and his handling of the recent hazing scandal and his nomination to the World Bank presidency. Although we agree that Kim's leadership regarding issues of campus life has been unsatisfactory at times, other members of the administration have also mishandled student concerns. In particular, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, who is specifically tasked with serving as the go-to administrator for undergraduate students, has done an inadequate job of addressing campus issues thus far.
Janet Reitman's recent article in Rolling Stone detailing fraternity culture and hazing at Dartmouth has elicited strong reactions not only from the campus community but also from alumni, parents, prospective students and readers across the country. Many members of the Dartmouth community have been quick to dismiss the article for its sensationalized and one-sided depiction of the College. We agree that Reitman's portrayal of Dartmouth is unbalanced and flawed, and we share the concerns of disgruntled students and alumni that the article selectively presents the views of a narrow cross-section of campus. We caution, however, against blindly focusing on the flaws in Reitman's portrayal to such an extent that we fail to address the uncomfortable truths that are undeniably present. While the conclusions Reitman draws about Dartmouth's culture are misguided, many of the underlying facts are unfortunately accurate.
It has been only three years since Dr. Jim Yong Kim was selected as Dartmouth's 17th president, a three-year tenure that has seen a dramatic decline in popular opinion. Kim's lifelong dedication to social justice and his commitment to increasing Dartmouth's presence on the world stage was initially met with a flurry of excitement throughout the Dartmouth community, which welcomed the announcement of his presidency in 2009. This same global focus certainly played a role in his nomination for the World Bank presidency.
Back in October 2011, The Dartmouth reported that the College was in the process of hiring additional mental health counselors and would be considering ways to expand the space available within Dick's House physical plant ("Dick's House undergoes review," Oct. 3, 2011). These changes were proposed in response to last spring's external review of campus health services, which revealed severe deficiencies in mental health services, sports medicine and the availability of primary care examination rooms. The report came as no surprise to many Dartmouth students, who have long complained of poor and inefficient care at Dick's House.
On Feb. 28, the Obama campaign's Greater Together Student Summit Tour will be coming to the College in an effort to engage students in a conversation about issues relevant to the next election and teach students about how they can become involved in the reelection campaign ("Obama campaign will host campus training," Feb. 21). The stated goal of the tour is to provide an opportunity for young voters in key states to "weigh in" on the issues that matter to them and learn how to organize to support the campaign on high school and college campuses.
The coming of V-Week each year encourages the reopening of dialogue on issues surrounding sexual health, violence and female empowerment at Dartmouth. Many V-Week events provide opportunities, particularly for women, to explore issues of sexuality that some people may find uncomfortable to discuss in everyday life. We applaud the efforts of the organizers of V-Week to draw attention to these important issues and spark discussion among students. However, such dialogue needs to continue beyond this week and extend to a broader section of campus that includes men as well as women if it is to have any hope of effecting meaningful change.
? Over the past week, Student Assembly and the Campus Center Advisory Committee have been reaching out to students for input regarding new social spaces in the Collis Center and in the basement of the Class of 1953 Commons. We applaud these groups for seeking student involvement in the process of developing these new facilities, and we hope that they will take advantage of this opportunity to expand the range of social spaces on this campus in accordance with student views and student needs.
Since the publication of Andrew Lohse's recent column ("Telling the Truth," Jan. 25), members of various groups in the Dartmouth community have come forward to participate in the dialogue about hazing at Dartmouth. Over the past week, members of Greek houses, the faculty, the administration and alumni have all offered their own perspectives on the pages of The Dartmouth. However, a truly productive conversation concerning the improvement of pledge terms cannot be sustained in Dartmouth's current environment in which the threat of fraternity sanctions and derecognition discourage productive dialogue.
It is the responsibility of any journalistic publication to ensure the accuracy of the information that appears on its pages. The Dartmouth takes journalistic integrity seriously. We do not censor our content to protect specific interests, nor do we print statements presented as fact without first verifying their truth to the best of our ability.
Over the past week, numerous factions of American society have joined in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, currently being debated in the House of Representatives, and its counterpart in the Senate, the Protect IP Act. A coalition of new media companies, civil liberties groups, politicians and common citizens have rapidly mobilized to pressure legislators into withdrawing their support for the two bills. In recent days, such efforts have spurred numerous prominent political figures to denounce SOPA, and it now appears Congress is unlikely to pass this legislation. For this, we breathe a sigh of relief. Although the intent of the acts is to protect copyrighted material from piracy and illegal use, the acts would restrict the free flow of information through the Internet in ways profoundly detrimental to both our campus community and society at large.
On Sunday, members of the Dartmouth community were notified of the tragic death of Crispin Scott '13 ("Student dies on Barcelona trip," Jan. 9). The news sent shock waves across campus as students, faculty and other members of our community grappled with the untimely loss of one of our own. Students and faculty immediately reached out to one another for support, organizing events such as the memorial gathering at Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and extending the availability of counselors, clergy and undergraduate deans. Through these efforts, students could seek comfort in the wake of this tragedy.