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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.
When admitting recruited athletes, Ivy League institutions perpetually struggle to balance the demands of competitive athletic programs with maintaining high academic standards. These schools have agreed to maintain a common minimum measurement of academic qualification, below which no athlete can be recruited. Unfortunately, recent evidence suggests that Dartmouth admissions has, on average, been accepting recruits with academic records that rank near the bottom of the Ivy League, and yet these low academic standards do not correspond to athletic success for the Big Green.
Last week, we all reneged on our moral responsibility to ensure that our campus is a safe, accepting place. The Dartmouth community's response to the discriminatory vandalism on the ground floor of Fahey-McLane residence hall has been delayed and half-hearted on every level. From the administration to student leaders to The Dartmouth itself, campus groups did not react to this disturbing incident in a forceful or timely manner that reflected the egregious and hateful nature of the crime. In so doing, Dartmouth students and administrators did not adequately send the message that homophobic, bigoted behavior is not tolerated here.
Next week, when many students view their course schedules for Winter term, they will be sorely disappointed. As they are term after term, a number of students will be turned away from classes that are simply too full, left to enroll in courses that interest them far less.
Last week, conservative lawmakers on New Hampshire's House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend a bill, H.B. 437, that would repeal the state's 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage and replace it with a system of civil unions ("Bill could repeal same-sex marriage," Nov. 4). Under the proposed legislation, any individual could refuse without penalty to recognize these unions, and could freely discriminate against same-sex couples in housing, employment and public accommodations. The passage of this bill would be a catastrophic blow to equality and civil liberties in this state, and we strongly urge all students and community members, particularly those who plan to vote in New Hampshire next year, to vocally oppose the legislation in the coming weeks, before the House votes in January 2012.
This week, Director of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Wes Schaub sounded an ominous note about the future of traditional pledge term activities at Dartmouth fraternities and sororities: "Most Greek leaders [are] people who understand that these are traditions but maybe might not have as much value as they once did" ("Greek orgs. evaluate pledge term activities," Oct. 26). Under Schaub's new leadership, Greek organizations are now receiving greater scrutiny for potential hazing than they have been in recent years. There is no doubt that some of the activities that comprise pledge terms at Dartmouth could rightly be considered dangerous and degrading. It is those activities, which occur at night in windowless basements and far from the eyes of administrators, that should be GLOS's primary concern.
Last November, College President Jim Yong Kim announced that the College was finally undertaking a much-needed and long-awaited overhaul of the undergraduate student advising system. The new system, which would centralize all advising services in a single physical location, would be fully implemented by Fall 2011, Kim said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth Editorial Board ("College plans new advising system," Nov. 30, 2010).
Reading through the 12 recommendations recently put forth by the Committee on Standards Sexual Assault Review Committee, it is clear that both praise and criticism are in order. On one hand, the recommendations are sensible, long overdue updates to the College's policies and practices regarding sexual assault. On the other hand, the recommendations shed little light on the standard of evidence used for sexual assault reviews, keeping the process muddled and prolonging the widespread perception that the system is inconsistent and unreliable.
Next Tuesday, the College will renew an exciting quadrennial tradition when GOP presidential contenders take the stage in Spaulding Auditorium for the ninth Republican primary debate of the 2012 election season. Hosting a debate is a tremendous honor one that only two other schools in the nation are currently scheduled to share. Students of all political persuasions should engage in the lively and spirited dialogue that the event will bring to our campus, but it is imperative that students and community members remember to set a civil and respectful tone for this discourse.