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The JED Foundation is set to announce its strategic plan for improving Dartmouth’s mental health infrastructure by the end of the term. Representatives from JED — a nonprofit that, according to its website, “protect[s] emotional health and prevent[s] suicide for... teenagers and young adults” — visited campus in late February to meet with administrative offices and various student groups. The strategic plan will be informed by this feedback, along with findings from the Healthy Minds Survey — which was sent out to campus during the fall term — and recommendations from committees of students, faculty and leadership across Dartmouth’s undergraduate and graduate schools.
Last week, the world watched in horror as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Within days, thousands of Russians and Ukrainians were dead, and Europe was, and still is, experiencing a refugee crisis of catastrophic proportions. Despite the credible threat of arrest — indeed over 6,000 have already been detained — thousands of Russians hit the streets to chant “No to war!” in opposition to their government’s actions.
On Feb. 17, Librex — an app that allowed users from Dartmouth and other elite schools to post anonymously for all their peers to see — announced that the platform would be permanently shut down. This news sent shockwaves throughout the community. While some mourned the loss of a way to stay connected to Dartmouth culture, others celebrated the permanent end of the app. Why? Throughout its history, Librex allowed students to objectify peers, mock their friends and even target individual students with slurs. We cheer its end, and that of the harmful discourse it enabled — but we also caution the Dartmouth community against allowing yet another iteration of a venomous, anonymous app to rise from Librex’s ashes.
This term, students walking through the library have been met with a jarring sight: Usually bustling with energy, First Floor Berry has been a ghost town. The space, which has been closed since the start of the winter in response to low mask compliance during the fall, is slated to remain closed until the indoor mask mandate is lifted. This measure, however, has shown itself to be utterly ineffective. Without access to a key group study space, students looking to hit the books have simply moved to less supervised areas of the library, leading to overcrowding and, if anything, aggravating the problem of mask non-compliance.
This editorial is featured in the 2022 Winter Carnival special issue.
Last month, the College announced plans to construct apartment-style undergraduate residences on Lyme Road. The new dormitory will house roughly 300 students and, by creating more supply, allow the College to renovate “approximately 60% of existing undergraduate residence halls over the coming decade,” starting with the mold-ridden Andres and Zimmerman Halls and Brace Commons this summer.
On Tuesday, Jan. 25, College President Phil Hanlon announced in a campus-wide email that, after a decade at the helm, he will step down from leadership of the College in June of 2023. Shortly after this announcement, an email from the Board of Trustees praised President Hanlon for “steer[ing] the institution to ever greater academic excellence, inclusion, and impact.”
With over 1,500 new cases among faculty, staff and students since the term started and a testing positivity rate of over 14% this past week, one would be hard-pressed to find a friend group, class or dorm that has managed to entirely avoid the clutches of COVID-19. And, as Student Assembly first shared in its email communications and the administration continues to remind students, this should come as no surprise: Dartmouth anticipated this staggering caseload and adjusted its policies accordingly, doing away with isolation housing, setting up a shockingly high quality isolation dining experience and allowing people the chance to test out with a negative rapid test after five or seven days. The College has done good work in preparing for the inevitable, but glaring issues remain: Dartmouth must do more to ease the lives of those who, by virtue of the College’s decision to treat COVID-19 as endemic, have contracted the virus.
Thus far, winter term has been characterized by unprecedented levels of COVID-19 transmission — with 993 new cases in just the last seven days — as well as a return to some social restrictions and a commitment to in-person instruction. While in-person classes resumed in a limited capacity in the summer and fully resumed in the fall, their continuation despite the spread of the omicron variant is a notable and welcome deviation from previous policy. This Editorial Board commends both the College’s commitment to in-person instruction as well as their clear and continuous communication of any and all changes that are made to COVID-19 policy, but firmly recommends additional investment in hybrid class models for those in isolation.
On Dec. 17, interim provost David Kotz and executive vice president Rick Mills announced several new additions to Dartmouth’s COVID-19 policies, which will now include a booster shot requirement for all community members as well as a ban on “social gatherings” and a shift to grab-and-go dining for the first two weeks of winter term. This move comes as multiple peer institutions, including Harvard University, Stanford University and Yale University, have decided to delay the start of in-person classes.
One week ago, interim athletics director Peter Roby ’79 announced that, due to a lack of compliance with masking rules as well as “inappropriate behavior” by students when asked to mask by gym staff, students would be barred from Alumni Gymnasium for two days — Monday and Tuesday of this week. This closure — the second this term, after an earlier one-day shutdown in October — is demonstrably unjust, a collective punishment that negatively impacts both the physical and mental well-being of the student body. Yet the student behaviors described in Roby’s email — which have been observed at other places throughout this campus, including in the dining hall and classrooms — also have no place on this campus. Simply put, both sides have a part to play in reducing the current tension: the College, for its part, must stop foisting unjust collective punishments on students and commit itself to more coherent and rational pandemic policies, while students must take the simple step of treating the College employees who do so much for this community with the respect they deserve.
Since 1996, Julia Griffin has served at the helm of Hanover local government, in her role as town manager overseeing day-to-day operations and the town’s almost 30 departments. Now, 25 years later, her long career in public service will come to a close: Late last week, Griffin announced her plans to step down from the role following the annual town meeting in spring 2022.
On Oct. 11, WMUR broke the news that the Dartmouth College Republicans would be inviting first-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a 26-year-old Republican from North Carolina, to sit on a panel titled “The Future of the Republican Party” on Oct. 24, this Sunday. Cawthorn will attend alongside NH-1 congressional candidate and former Trump administration assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt and former Trump campaign strategist Alex Bruesewitz.
Last Friday, in a campus-wide email, Interim Dean of the College Scott Brown announced the discovery of significant mold growth in the Andres and Zimmerman residence halls, informing the community that students with a “health sensitivity” to mold had been given the option to relocate to temporary housing, first in the Boss Tennis Center and, starting Sunday, in a “limited number of hotel rooms in the area.” The email also noted that mold “remediation” efforts, which include the vacuuming of interior surfaces of each HVAC unit with a high-efficiency particulate vacuum and the installation of additional filtration, have already begun in Andres and Zimmerman and that additional inspections will occur in other residential buildings throughout the next few weeks. In addition, the College announced that, moving forward, it will expand its mold protocols to include regular checks of air handling units in all Dartmouth buildings.
This editorial is featured in the 2021 Homecoming special issue.
Last Thursday, an article published in The Dartmouth reported that the Class of 2025, with a class size of 1,229 students, is the largest in Dartmouth’s history. This revelation comes only four years after the previous record-holder for the largest class, the Class of 2021, matriculated, and is only the second time in Dartmouth’s history that the number of newly enrolled students has surpassed 1,200.
’53 Commons lines extending to Parkhurst. Courtyard Cafe lines snaking to Hinman. Crowds of students squeezing past each other to get to dining stations.
For the first time in nearly eighteen months, Dartmouth has welcomed a majority of its undergraduate students back to campus and into classrooms. Many returning students have embraced this development as a welcome return to the Dartmouth of pre-pandemic times. Yet, for many others, this development represents a clear divergence from the Dartmouth experience they have had thus far. In-person classes, non-socially distanced dining halls and open-to-campus events hosted by Greek houses are entirely foreign to many students. For them, the Dartmouth experience they are familiar with is not the one they have encountered upon returning for the fall term.
Last Thursday, the Dartmouth community received word of the death of Elizabeth Reimer ’24. Her death — the fourth of an undergraduate student this academic year, and the third of a first-year student — has only deepened the grief within a community that had already been mourning the losses of three peers. Though now is the time to grieve, change must soon follow. For far too long, student calls for increased mental health resources and changes in policy have been met by woefully inadequate responses from the College, even as the pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis on campus and made these cries for help all the more urgent. Dartmouth must repair its dilapidated mental health infrastructure or risk further tragedies.
This column is featured in the 2021 Spring special issue.