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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.
The Geisel School of Medicine made national headlines last Sunday when the New York Times reported on the medical school’s cheating allegations against seventeen of its students. The Dartmouth has followed up with our own reporting today, shedding light on the worrying conditions at the north end of campus.
In a May 5 campus-wide email, College President Phil Hanlon announced that due to the increasing vaccination rate and the declining COVID-19 incidence rate nationwide, the College will allow graduates to bring up to two guests to graduation. This announcement embraces suggestions made by students following the initial decision to hold Commencement for families virtually and is a promising sign of an impending return to normalcy on campus — something this Editorial Board has argued is overdue. However, while the College should be commended for revising its decision, for many low-income students and their families the eleventh-hour nature of the decision erects significant financial and logistical hurdles and comes as too little, too late.
Sophomore summer has long been a quintessential Dartmouth experience — a College tradition treasured by generations of students that offers the chance to bond with classmates, enjoy lazy days on the Connecticut, and share the whole experience with loved ones on family weekend. Less appreciated than these traditions, it goes without saying, are the academic opportunities — or lack thereof — offered over the summer. This should come as no surprise — one of the worst-kept secrets about sophomore summer is the term's shockingly limited class selection.
Each year, at the outset of Dartmouth’s Student Assembly election period, the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee publishes its annual election code. In recent elections, this rulebook — which outlines the regulations by which candidates’ campaigns and their supporters must abide — has grown increasingly complex and draconian, expanding into spheres of students’ social lives that a student-run committee should have no business occupying. This year and last, in the name of “ensur[ing] equality, equity, fairness between all candidates” after the pandemic forced campaign activities online, EPAC has only tightened its already stringent rules. Many of these more recently imposed regulations — as well as many of those already in place — are decidedly undemocratic and stand in direct conflict with the committee’s mission statement that EPAC exists to facilitate “open and fair” student elections.
Last week, Dartmouth announced its admissions decisions for the Class of 2025, and every high schooler admitted in this historically competitive year deserves a hearty congratulations. As students across the world consider where they will spend their next four years, the admissions office is no doubt already casting an eye toward prospective members of the Class of 2026. As it does so, Dartmouth should adopt lessons learned from this year’s strange cycle.
For many Dartmouth students, the promise of becoming fully vaccinated in the near future lies within reach, but the hope of returning to normal life still does not. While the College has in the last week begun the process of easing some social distancing restrictions for vaccinated students, it has made no mention of loosening facility access restrictions either for fully or partially vaccinated students or for those who have previously contracted COVID-19. This should change: Dartmouth should extend limited on-campus access to some facilities to all students who are fully vaccinated, who have acquired immunity through previous infection with COVID-19 or who have received their first dose at least two weeks ago.
Spring has sprung at Dartmouth, bringing with it not only warmer weather but also the hope of an impending return to relative normalcy. Americans across the country are being rapidly vaccinated against COVID-19, and with New Hampshire’s expansion of vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16 as of today, Dartmouth students are hopeful that we, too, may soon get the jab.
After a term of low COVID-19 case numbers and relatively loose restrictions, Dartmouth’s bubble abruptly burst last week with the emergence of its first major COVID-19 outbreak. As of Thursday, Dartmouth’s total active student COVID-19 case count sits at 143 — roughly 4% of undergraduates living on campus and locally off campus. Students, who just weeks ago were ice skating on the Green and eating indoors at Collis, have now been forced back to the confines of their rooms.
On Feb. 16, the College abruptly announced its decision to close the Kresge Physical Sciences Library and the Paddock Music Library. According to a widely shared open letter by music department chair William Cheng, not a single music professor was consulted, or even alerted, before the administration eliminated the department’s library.
Last month, The New York Times reported that Leon Black ’73, prominent College donor and billionaire chairman of Apollo Global Management, had paid convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein $158 million between 2012 and 2017, years after Epstein pled guilty to prostitution involving a teenager in 2008. These findings cast a dark shadow over Black’s legacy — a legacy with a high degree of visibility on Dartmouth’s campus.
This editorial is featured in the 2021 Winter Carnival special issue.
Last Friday, College President Phil Hanlon unexpectedly announced that the five varsity athletic teams cut last summer — men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's golf and men's lightweight rowing — had been reinstated. In his email, Hanlon attributed the change to the discovery that “elements of the data that athletics used to confirm continued Title IX compliance may not have been complete.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, many cherished aspects of the Dartmouth experience have remained on hold. One familiar feature of Dartmouth life, however, has not been sorely missed: the physical education requirement. Often derided as a waste of time at best and a hidden fee at worst, the PE requirement is most notable for bogging down students with mandatory — and often expensive — checkbox-filling activities. Eliminating the PE graduation requirement for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 was a necessary move given the pandemic, but it’s time to go further. The College should permanently do away with the PE requirement.
From Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, onward, many Dartmouth alumni have gone on to serve in prominent public service roles. Alex Azar '88, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration, is certainly one of them. But prominence and power do not mean admirability; Azar stepped down from his post earlier this week with the entrance of the Biden administration, ending four years of controversial health care policy.
Just over a week ago, the U.S. experienced a national catastrophe. The Trump-incited siege on the Capitol, which used violence in an attempt to overturn a democratic election, was a galling attack on the heart of American democracy.