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Dartmouth students do not like change. Mention a new plan or College initiative, and students are likely to oppose it. Perhaps the resistance comes with the territory of attending a school with almost 250 years of history and tradition, but change is inevitable and necessary on a large, diverse and dynamic college campus. The many negative reactions to plans to convert the Main Hall of Baker-Berry Library, a classic Dartmouth space, into a more social area this winter were no exception ("Baker-Berry renovations to begin in spring," Jan. 14). But despite students' complaints, the College shifted the landscape of the library and the changes were completed this term.
This term has seen the rise of two issue-specific student committees in response to administrative action and inaction. Dartmouth Students for Dining Choice was founded to protest the newly announced changes to College meal plans and Access By Leadership in Equity members have expressed growing frustration with the lack of administrative progress toward enhancing accessibility resources ("Students protest against new DDS dining plan," May 10; "Students review accessibility issues," May 13). The current student-led initiatives supporting these movements are laudable. However, the Student Assembly, which is supposed to be the greatest advocate for Dartmouth undergraduates, has failed to take the lead in responding to either of these issues. The proliferation of ad hoc committees is a testament to the Assembly's inaction and inability to lobby meaningfully on behalf of the student body.
The eight Panhellenic presidents sent shock waves throughout campus on Wednesday when they announced that their sororities will begin canceling all social events with fraternities that fail to hastily initiate an internal adjudication hearing when one of their members assaults a female student ("Sororities announce new policy," May 12). The announcement has sparked a passionate debate about whether the policy is a wise course of action. Not surprisingly, much of the rhetoric has centered on the violent incident that occurred in a fraternity basement Saturday and triggered the new policy.
This week, college administrators scored two political victories that have generated significant buzz on campus and in the national press. The launch of Dartmouth's intercollegiate campaign against alcohol abuse, the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, demonstrates that the College is still capable of formulating innovative solutions to inveterate campus issues. Also this week, the announcement that comedian Conan O'Brien will deliver this year's Commencement address has been met with great enthusiasm from students. Indeed, these announcements instilled hope in the student body that College administrators are not as out of touch with student opinion as they have sometimes seemed.
Tonight, students and administrators will march across campus as part of the nationwide Take Back the Night movement, offering support to victims of sexual assault and calling for an end to sexual violence. If the event is similar to those of past years, the relatively few participants will be predominantly female and already involved in campus organizations that deal with sexual assault.
Our decision to publish Roger Lott's most recent column, "Education on Credit," April 18, has come under fire from a number of community members this week. It is not the first of Lott's columns to generate controversy, and it will surely not be the last. Given the intensity of the response to this piece, however, we feel it is necessary to articulate our vision for this page.
It has been an unconventional Student Assembly election season, to say the least. With only one officially registered presidential candidate on the ballot, a write-in candidate who is off campus and another write-in candidate who has been declared ineligible to run by the Election Planning and Advisory Committee, this election has been complicated and defined by a series of peripheral arguments. The true question, however, is not who is eligible to run, but which student is best suited to lead us through the next year a year sure to include further discussion of alcohol, sexual assault, diversity and gender balance issues on campus. Although all three candidates boast significant experience in Assembly leadership roles, Max Yoeli '12 has the record for success that our student body president needs.
Last month, with little fanfare, College administrators made an exception to one of their most controversial policies. Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, formerly Beta Theta Pi fraternity, was recognized by the Inter-Fraternity Council on March 8 as a local fraternity, going against a six-year College prohibition of new local Greek organizations ("Beta returns as College examines ban on locals," April 8). The Board of Trustees, which will meet on campus this weekend, now has the opportunity to re-evaluate College protocol. The eradication of the rule would be a step in the right direction toward more equitable and gender-balanced social options on campus.
Next Tuesday, April 5, Student Assembly will hold an unprecedented vote. The legislation in question would amend the Assembly constitution, allowing formerly suspended students to run for student body president and student body vice president. This vote is important for both the policy adjustment it proposes and the message it sends to campus about how we should treat formerly Parkhursted students.
Campus dialogue this Winter has centered on particularly heavy issues, from the intractable problems of sexual assault and binge drinking to rising concern about the administration's approach to diversity. As the term draws to a close, however, we find ourselves alarmed about one of those "little things" an issue that might seem insignificant in a broader context, but that has an undeniably meaningful impact on our daily lives. Sometimes it is the little things that count, and in the case of the administration's proposed changes to our dining plan options, they count a whole lot. The new plan announced this week will trade our popular a la carte system for a hybrid system of paying for all-you-can-eat meals in the Class of 1953 Commons and buying individual items in other dining halls ("New plan to include pay-per-meal dining," March 2).
Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to strike a devastating blow to women's health care in this country. Two hundred and thirty Republicans and 10 Democrats voted to cut $317 million in funds for family planning assistance from the national budget in other words, every last penny of federal funding for family planning initiatives. Of that total, $75 million was designated for Planned Parenthood, which uses federal funding to provide STI screenings, breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraception, annual gynecological exams, HIV counseling and family planning advising. In New Hampshire, organizations that offer family planning services receive $1.4 million in federal funds, the majority of which go to six Planned Parenthood centers throughout the state ("New amendment may decrease Title X funds," Feb. 25). In their efforts to reduce access to abortions, supporters of the bill are recklessly gambling with American women's health.
In the last several weeks, the Dartmouth community has witnessed what appears to be an exodus of strong, minority female administrators from Parkhurst Hall. The sudden resignation of Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students Colleen Larimore this week ("Larimore announces resignation," Feb. 16) is the third similar departure announced this term acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears announced in early January that she would not apply for the permanent dean of the College position and Samantha Ivery, assistant dean of student life, advisor to black students and acting director of the Center for Women and Gender, announced her resignation on Jan. 31.
This Monday, the living room of Cutter-Shabazz Hall became the site of a lively, freewheeling discussion between students and College President Jim Yong Kim on the topics of racial and socioeconomic diversity at Dartmouth ("Kim reacts to student criticism of diversity," Feb. 8). Students from all corners of campus passionately shared their personal experiences with diversity and challenged Kim to identify tangible improvements made under his administration.
Last Spring, discussions at the College's termly Board of Trustees meeting centered overwhelmingly around budgetary issues. As a result, decisions about whether to approve funding and construction plans for Alpha Phi and Kappa Delta sororities' physical plants were postponed until a later date ("Sororities' construction plans remain unclear," Feb. 1). Due to weather concerns, the Board is scheduled to hold a conference call today in lieu of a traditional meeting, and it is crucial that this time, the plans are approved. The establishment of physical plants for all sororities will be a meaningful step toward achieving much-needed gender parity in the Dartmouth social system.
If certain New Hampshire Republicans have their way, Dartmouth students from out of state will soon find themselves unable to vote in New Hampshire ("Proposed Bill Bans Student Votes," Jan. 26). Bill 176, proposed by State Rep. Gregory Sorg, R-Grafton, would effectively ban students attending college in New Hampshire from casting any votes here, in both local and national elections. The College Republicans and the College Democrats have joined forces to fight the legislation. If we value our constitutional rights, we should all support their efforts.
This week, the Dartmouth community witnessed a rare and exciting spark of student interest in the affairs of the College's administration. In response to the recent announcement that acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears would not seek the permanent deanship, a group of students released a petition calling for "greater transparency" surrounding Dean Spears' decision not to join the applicant pool ("Students question dean selection process," Jan. 19). The students also advocated for the expansion of the selection committee to include "additional representatives, from diverse backgrounds and communities."
As of today, students facing the prospect of trudging home through the snow and cold after a night out will instead be able to call a College-sponsored shuttle service for rides across campus. ("Late night shuttle to commence operation," Jan.11). The shuttle is a convenient service that the student body will likely embrace, especially in the winter months. The College's decision to advertise the shuttle as a solution to sexual assault, however, as well as its choice to run the shuttle between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. every night, displays an alarming disconnect between the administration and the student body.
Shortly after the College announced it would conduct a nationwide search for a permanent dean of the College earlier this week, acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears said she would not apply for the position ("Spears to leave deanship in June," Jan. 7). Her decision leaves the College with two options: promote an administrator from within our community, or hire a candidate who is new to Dartmouth. Because the challenges facing the new dean stem from the College's unique campus culture, it is critical that every effort be made to hire from within.
In announcing the Dean of the College's "update" on the issues of alcohol and sexual assault, acting Dean Sylvia Spears said the presentation would include "new campus initiatives" and "specific programmatic initiatives" intended to combat these serious problems facing students at the College. Instead, the meager audience saw little more than recycled, vague proposals built on faint evidence of work and a significant helping of meaningless jargon.
Other than the general desire to remain "a small college," there is nothing that unites Dartmouth students and alumni like the Greek system. Whether it's Hanover Police threatening to enact sting operations ("Stricter alcohol plans outrage Greek orgs.", Feb. 5) or the administration proposing broad changes, such as with the Student Life Initiative ("Trustees to End Greek System As We Know It'", Feb. 10, 1999), "those who love it" have rallied to protect our social system: an open, flexible, alumni-supported collection of fraternities and sororities. But when it comes to Dartmouth's greatest problems binge drinking, sexual assault and gender relations it is this unique set of circumstances that not only facilitates these issues, but perpetuates them.