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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.
When the polls close on April 7, the alumni will have elected two new members to the Board of Trustees and a slate of officers to the Executive Committee for the Association of Alumni. While the purpose of these elections is to select the best leadership for the College, the aggressive political campaigns that have defined the election have been in conflict with the goals of an institution of higher education.
When Hanover Police announced its intention to implement compliance checks and sting operation at Greek organizations ("Stricter alcohol plans outrage Greek orgs.," Feb. 5), it highlighted that there are two related, but distinct, aspects of drinking at the College that must be addressed: underage drinking and health risks. In reaction to this announcement, College President Jim Yong Kim formed the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee ("Kim starts committee to address alcohol use," March 1), but failed to adequately address both concerns.
When signs by an anonymous author appeared on the front lawns of multiple Greek houses pledging to hold the organizations "accountable" for sexist acts ("Signs contend Greek orgs. are racist, sexist," Feb. 25), they awakened the gender controversy that has simmered near the surface of campus dialogue for years, occasionally boiling over. Issues of gender roles, social spaces and sexual harassment have consistently raised fierce debates on Webster Avenue and throughout the rest of the community. Yet these issues, despite being perennial sources of outrage, have never quite been dealt with adequately as institutional and cultural problems at Dartmouth.
On the eve of the recent Board of Trustees' meeting, budget cut debates split the Dartmouth campus into a variety of angry factions and ad hoc coalitions, with the majority of the uproar focused on the prospect of layoffs. Concerned community members most notably members of the Service Employees International Union Local 560, faculty who wrote an open letter to College President Jim Yong Kim and the group Students Stand with Staff gathered on the Green to voice their demand that the administration "put people first" ("Layoff fears spark candlelight vigil," Feb. 5). When budget cuts were announced days later, it appeared that the Board had listened to the groups' concerns and limited layoffs to a reasonably small segment of the College. Yet Students Stand with Staff and other groups continue to challenge the changes that were much less extensive than what the community originally expected.
While layoffs for hourly workers received widespread attention prior to the announcement of budget cuts, the effect of cuts at the upper levels of the administration was rarely discussed. Protesters, instead, pointed to the confines of Parkhurst for further reductions, but on Thursday, acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears announced a plan for consolidating her office that will most likely eliminate a number of dean-level administrators ("Spears initiates structural changes," Feb. 12). Among others, the College will likely lose Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman to layoffs and assistant Dean of Residential Life and director of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Deborah Carney to retirement ("Redman, Carney plan to leave College posts," Feb. 12). The departures follow the announcement that Associate Director of Coed, Fraternities and Sororities Fouad Saleet will leave for Colgate University, causing all of the direct oversight of Greek life to quickly evaporate. The absence of leadership, coupled with a nebulous plan for replacement, results in a troubling lack of institutional memory during what already was a period of transition for Webster Avenue.
The Hanover Police Department policy to deploy undercover operatives to Greek houses in order to combat underage drinking ("Stricter alcohol plans outrage Greek orgs.," Feb. 5) represents a startling and troubling lack of perspective on the part of Hanover Police. College President Jim Yong Kim acknowledged a well-known truth last July when he said underage drinking is a reality on college campuses ("Kim addresses Greek life, alcohol policy," Jul. 1), and responsible consumption should be emphasized. The Hanover Police Department may have a legal right to investigate such violations of state laws, but this measure will have a crippling effect on the openness of the Dartmouth social scene and potentially disastrous repercussions for student health on campus, both points that have students across campus vehemently speaking out against the policy.
The oft-cited "Dartmouth Experience" undoubtedly means something different to each member of the College community. When the endowment is doubling, any differences in personal values can conveniently be swept under the rug. Only after losses to the endowment when jobs are threatened and budget cuts debated must we seriously consider how these values define the College. Before we make cuts, we must prioritize what is essential to the Dartmouth experience. Until we do this, all budget cut conversations will be overshadowed by the larger debate on the College's core purpose.
The Grafton County Superior Court's decision to dismiss the second alumni lawsuit against the Board of Trustees on Tuesday ("Second alumni suit dismissed by court," Jan. 21) likely ended the prospect of a judicial resolution to the debate on preserving parity between alumni-elected and Board-selected trustees. Judge Timothy Vaughan's dismissal was predicated on specific procedural grounds, however, and did not offer much analysis of the parity issue that was central to the case.
The College's decision to postpone the implementation of the Organizational Adjudication Committee's student board ("Implementation of OAC student board postponed," Jan 13) was abruptly announced Tuesday following months of preparation and support from the student body. The reasons cited for delaying the board's first training session ranged from budget cuts to the Phi Delta Alpha fire and ultimately raised more questions than they answered.
The completion of the Capital Campaign ("Dartmouth completes $1.3 billion campaign," Jan. 8) signals that despite the recent recession, donors are still enthusiastically supporting the College. The name attached to the fundraising effort "Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience" expresses precisely why we believe donations have not ceased in this economic climate. Alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff understand that their investment will maintain the high standards of excellence at the College, and ensure that future generations will have as positive an experience as those that came before them.
College President Jim Yong Kim will never be accused of sitting idle during his first five months in office Parkhurst Hall has undergone significant restructuring under his watch, much of it long overdue. While we have been apprehensive about some of the change mostly notably the unusual timing of former Provost Barry Scherr's decision to step down earlier this fall these rearrangements have represented significant steps toward addressing inefficiencies and redundancies that have plagued the College's central administration for years. Many of these inefficiencies were enumerated in a McKinsey and Company review of the College conducted four years ago.