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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.
Every year, Dartmouth publishes its latest admissions statistics and each time, it seems that the College has admitted the "most diverse class ever." But that kind of statistics-driven diversity is an incomplete metric. The roughly 40 percent of students identifying as minorities is a sign of progress. But true diversity entails interaction, engagement, mutual respect, understanding and trust a diversity of spirit that this campus unfortunately still lacks.
Last week, The Dartmouth Editorial Board criticized College President Jim Yong Kim's use of the general meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to discuss binge drinking and sexual assault ("Teachable Moment?" Oct. 29). While we maintain that counselors and deans should lead in working with these issues, we must admit that the approach is not incompatible with the faculty in their role as researchers and mentors.
College President Jim Yong Kim broke convention with his decision to address the issues of sexual assault and binge drinking at Monday's termly meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences ("Faculty praise Kim's topic choice for talk," Oct. 29.) While newly appointed Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno said Kim was finding "ways to challenge faculty," and professors said they felt it was important for Kim to address these types of issues with the faculty, it seems to us as students that our professors already have enough "challenges" to face without the added task of attempting to tackle this broad student issue.
Pick a topic: The College's ban on local sororities; Hanover Police's attack on Greek life and the Good Samaritan policy; the pervasive threat of sexual assault; class oversubscription; an ineffective residential life policy; the lingering consequences of budget cuts. All of these problems have huge ramifications on the quality of every student's hallowed "Dartmouth Experience." And people care about them, but they don't take enough meaningful action to confront them. What are the issues students have recently self-organized to address instead? Making the Homecoming bonfire more welcoming ("Group works to improve bonfire," Oct. 15) and reinstating swimming at the Connecticut River docks.
With each passing fall, more and more students choose to rush and ultimately join Greek organizations ("Sororities see increase in PNMs," Oct. 15). The numbers alone prove that the majority of the student body craves something more than what they can receive from academics and extracurricular activities. Despite its flaws, the Greek system is currently one of the best places to find community both physically and emotionally. With over 65 percent of eligible students joining Greek letter organizations, it is clearly a common experience students are seeking.
Last Saturday, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity made a Good Samaritan call for another Dartmouth student who was dangerously intoxicated. Rather than commend the brother, the Hanover Police Department pressed felony charges against SAE for enabling underage drinking charges that could cost $100,000 ("Good Samaritan call prompts SAE charge," Oct. 7). With this action and the additional charges against three other Greek houses in the last week the police have crippled, perhaps irrevocably, the one consistently positive element of the College's alcohol policy, the one that is essential to keeping students safe.
This week the first full week of a fresh school year the Class of 2014 was forced to face one of the grimmest realities that undeniably exists on Dartmouth's campus. As the Clery Act report states, in the past two years, 33 cases of sexual assault have been reported on Dartmouth's campus ("Report marks drop in sex assault," Sept. 30). While some '14s may have read this statistic in the report, the issue of sexual assault was most likely brought to their attention by an anonymous and alarmingly inappropriate e-mail sent to the '14s calling all of Dartmouth's fraternity brothers rapists.
Recent years have brought Dartmouth athletics some of its most painful seasons. Losses piled up for many of the high-profile sports teams, with game attendance and overall campus enthusiasm dropping to what felt like record lows. Yet each new season is cause for hope, and this year's optimism is substantiated by our teams' current records. Less than three weeks ago, athletic director Harry Sheehy assumed his new post, and his history of winning almost instantly instilled a fresh sense of optimism and confidence on the field. Many of the sports that have been lackluster in the past have begun the Fall with largely unexpected victories.
Beneath the surface of this week's headlines which saw mentions of felony charges, harassment and arrests lies a greater and perhaps more important debate about the meaning of "brotherhood." The arguments go both ways: on one hand, a true brother wouldn't endanger or offend others by taking drugs in a common area, while on the other hand, a real brother shouldn't bring an internal problem to the public sphere particularly the legal sphere. In either case, the debate surrounding the events at Sigma Alpha Epsilon in the early morning hours of May 13 ("Fourth arrested after drug incident at SAE," May 25) underscore the broader question of what the limits of obligation to a fraternity, sorority or any other organization are, if they exist at all. If any productive result is to come from these recent events, it will be to serve as a catalyst motivating every organization to have a conversation about what membership especially "brotherhood" or "sisterhood" means.
The recommendations made by the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee have substantial potential to make the drinking culture in Hanover safer. The proposal includes a broad range of suggestions, many of which could help students avoid serious harm. A number of the recommendations certainly meet the criteria of policies that do more than allow students to conceal their reckless drinking habits, as we previously argued ("Verbum Ultimum: A Minor Move, April 30").
Dartmouth's convoluted advising system which is known for bouncing students in search of answers between campus offices has long been in need of an overhaul. Acknowledging this, we are optimistic about the potential of College President Jim Yong Kim's plan for a new, streamlined College advising system that will centralize students' needs ("Kim plans to alter student advising," May 13). In order to provide a truly useful, effective service for students, however, there are a few important issues that Kim and other administrators must bear in mind in the months ahead.
The still in-progress Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center has drawn criticism due to its construction costs as the College is still exiting a period of budget cuts ("Prof. seeks to clarify Life Sciences Center expense," May 7). Previously, faculty members have questioned the necessity of staff layoffs while construction of the Life Sciences Center and Visual Arts Center continued. Yet even with the large sums of money involved and the seemingly hypocritical nature of spending tens of millions of dollars on construction and renovations while simultaneously cutting back in other areas, we stand behind the idea that now is the best time to pursue these projects. These new facilities will provide an enduring benefit to the College beyond the enjoyment of the student body that warrants the expense even in a time of crisis.
The Hanover Police Department's recently revised alcohol policy to no longer automatically arrest underage students receiving medical attention for overconsumption if they are eligible for the Alcohol Diversions program has solicited an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the student body ("Many students back police policy changes," April 26). The new policy certainly removes a large obstacle in providing crucial medical assistance to specific groups of students either traditionally responsible students who had an uncharacteristic lapse in judgment or the overeager freshmen who did not realize their limit. This shift encourages students to make a Good Samaritan call for their friends who are dangerously intoxicated for the first time. While we understand the warm reception students gave this announcement, it is important to keep in perspective that this is only one small step in the effort to reform policies surrounding alcohol use. Perhaps a more important effort lies instead in reforming the culture that surrounds drinking at Dartmouth. In fact, Hanover Police's concession is hardly a concession at all and should not be treated as a huge shift in policy prioritizing student safety. Not arresting a student if he or she enrolls in the Diversions program as opposed to expunging the initial arrest from a student's record after they opt to participate in the program renders no difference for the Hanover Police. Instead, the police department comes away looking as though it has taken the initiative to effect positive change without substantially altering its overall policy a smart decision for them, to be sure, but not a meaningful one.
As Dimensions provides the prospective members of the Class of 2014 an opportunity to see Dartmouth, the presence of "prospies" offers us the chance to consider the College's goals as a liberal arts institution. The Class of 2014 is the College's latest "most selective class ever," a compliment that has been recycled every year in recent memory. While this is an attribute of which the class should be proud, it also points to the increasingly competitive nature of college admissions and the additional pressure put on high school students to be accepted to an elite college or university.
In the April 9 Verbum Ultimum ("Involved@Dartmouth.edu"), we identified two critical aspects of the role of Student Body president: representing students at large and presiding over an effective forum for student ideas. For the past two years, the student body has been fortunate to elect presidents who proved to be more than capable of fulfilling the first task, representing the Dartmouth student body to Parkhurst, Hanover and the wider world. But we have also seen Student Assembly founder in increasing irrelevance, and we believe this upcoming year which will be less dominated by budget cuts and the incorporation of new administrators brings an opportunity to turn attention to the organization's cause. Thus, we endorse the only candidate who has presented a fresh and pragmatic attempt to revamp the Assembly for the next era at Dartmouth: Eric Tanner '11.
Last weekend's announcement that a slate decisively opposed to recent lawsuits against the College was elected to the Association of Alumni executive board ("Alumni elect Unity Slate' to AoA," April 12) may mark the end of the contentious debate on the appropriateness of alumni body representatives suing the College in pursuit of parity ("Lawsuit appeal divides candidates in AoA race," March 30). Although no elected alumni group has expressed a desire to bring a lawsuit against the College, the persistence of the discussion of parity within alumni factions shows us that debate over the Board's composition is far from over. Indeed, it should not be, with alumni as varied as former petition candidate Joe Asch '79 and recently reelected Association president John Mathias '69 have advocated the shared view that parity is a goal of a majority of the alumni body, despite the previous disagreement over how to reinstate it.
To a large portion of the Dartmouth campus, the "Sun God" (formally known as Johnathan James Recor MALS '11) primarily inspires a general indifference toward his professed artistic goals of "unity" and "love." Responding to a mask-wearing, boombox-blasting, lightsaber-wielding, walking piece of performance art with apathy or even scorn is perhaps understandable. Although it holds a more prominent position on campus, Student Assembly often evokes a similar response from many students general lack of interest. Besides a few staunch supporters and participants, students often claim not to understand the Assembly's purpose. While the Assembly certainly does not always function as smoothly or effectively as it should, the body is more than a fringe organization in fact, its ultimate purpose is to represent every student's needs and interests, and it warrants the attention of the student body.