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Last week, the College partially reversed the new card access policy, reopening House centers and other social spaces to all students. This came after the College received almost universally negative input from students and worked with Student Assembly to ameliorate discontent. This Editorial Board has already criticized the policy changes at the beginning of this term, and we are pleased that the College has taken steps to undo what was clearly a misguided tactic.
This Homecoming weekend, during Dartmouth’s sestercentennial, alumni came to celebrate. Between green-lit buildings and a cake shaped like Dartmouth Hall, an implicit push for alumni to share their wealth with the College was tangible.
Fall term brings many perennial favorites to the College: a new freshman class, football, Homecoming and fall foliage. It also features rush — a period of several weeks in which many sophomores seek admittance to Dartmouth’s fraternities and sororities. The Editorial Board commented last week on the rush process, but what happens when that process ends?
Rush is coming to a close and for yet another year, glaring issues with women’s rush remain. Women’s rush has long entailed a condensed speed dating-like process in which “potential new members” talk to multiple sisters of the house for all houses in the first round. Though the rush process has long needed improvements, recent events have made this conversation even more relevant — namely, the loss of shakeout for Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority and the “drop” policy changes mid-process.
On Sept. 18, the College officially launched the Sexual Violence Prevention Project for the Class of 2023 after piloting the program for the last two years. Meanwhile, members of the Class of 2022 are currently participating in Dartmouth Bystander Initiative presentations in preparation for fraternity and sorority rush. With the College recently settling the federal class-action sexual misconduct lawsuit filed by nine former students, sexual assault and how it influences the culture on campus is at the forefront of the minds of many administrators, faculty members and students.
This past Saturday, the College restricted students’ access to buildings only within their own House communities. The College said the policy change came in response to the number of “racial bias incidents” that occurred last October, characterizing the policy as a security measure.
Earlier this month, the College held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2019. The event, highlighted by a speech and musical performance by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, marked the successful culmination of four years at Dartmouth for the outgoing senior class. Thousands of family, friends and alumni gathered on the Green on a sunny day to view the ceremony and celebrate with the graduates.
On May 11, Harvard University’s dean of the college Rakesh Khurana announced that the faculty dean of Winthrop House, Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., would be removed from his position. The news comes five months after Sullivan, a professor at Harvard Law School, announced that he would serve as a lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, who currently faces multiple criminal charges for sexual misconduct.
For every fall, winter and spring term in the Dartmouth calendar, there is a single weekend reserved for celebration by the Dartmouth community: Homecoming for fall, Winter Carnival for winter and Green Key for spring. However, whereas Homecoming is a time to rekindle the Dartmouth spirit by reconnecting alumni with their alma mater and welcoming freshman into the community, and Winter Carnival showcases the achievements of Dartmouth’s winter sports teams, the College touts Green Key as a weekend to “celebrate the arrival of spring” — a purpose that is hardly Dartmouth-specific. Though at one point Green Key had a community service focus, its emphasis on social service has since slipped away. Now, the weekend more closely resembles earlier traditions of excessive drinking, substance abuse and revelrous traditions such as inebriated, rowdy chariot races across the Green using makeshift chairs and students as “horses,” as well as hazing of the freshman class.
Last week, the College announced that its workplace misconduct investigation into two administrators of The Dartmouth Institute had concluded. The investigation, which began nine months ago, resulted in Elliott Fisher, a nationally known expert in health policy, being removed as director of TDI and losing his endowed professorship title while being allowed to stay on as a member of the faculty. Meanwhile, Adam Keller, another TDI administrator, resigned from his position.
Partisan rancor and gamesmanship have spilled over into the nation’s highest court. In the past two years, the Republican Party has secured two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom were confirmed after Senate Republicans deployed the so-called nuclear option in 2017, an amendment to Senate rules that lowered the votes needed for cloture from 60 to a simple majority vote. Democrats, now limited by time constraints on floor debates, have decried the processes for both confirmations as unfair, and with good cause. But the solutions proposed by some on the left — which amount to court packing — are at least as threatening to the institution of the Supreme Court. And that should worry us all.
Given Dartmouth’s proximity to the Connecticut River and the White and Green Mountains, it’s easy to see why the outdoors is such a big part of campus culture. It’s even in our motto, “vox clamantis in deserto” — “a voice crying out in the wilderness.” Almost every student’s first experience with Dartmouth — First Year Trips — is an outdoor one. And that focus on the outdoors continues while back on campus. The Dartmouth Outing Club, the oldest and largest college outing club in the U.S., boasts over 1,500 student members. Students walk around campus clad in flannels and Patagonia jackets and go for runs, hikes and ski trips. This is a campus that clearly values its connection to the outdoors.
On Monday, Luke Cuomo ’20 narrowly defeated Tim Holman ’20 and Sydney Johnson ’20 to become the next Student Assembly president. In what was one of the closest presidential races in recent years, the candidates proposed and defended their respective platforms at Monday night’s debate moderated by The Dartmouth. The candidates largely proposed similar solutions to long-standing campus issues, including the hiring of more counselors at Dick’s House and the adoption of the new United Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.
Dartmouth publicizes a wide-ranging curriculum with room for exploration for undergraduates, but that openness doesn’t seem to extend to the career choices the College promotes through its Center for Professional Development. Last week, the CPD hosted its Employer Connections Fair, where Dartmouth students had the opportunity to meet potential employers. Those employers came mostly from finance and consulting firms, and there was little representation from the public sector. This imbalance between private and public sector jobs is mirrored in a slant in jobs that Dartmouth students choose to take after graduation; 56 percent of the Class of 2018 took jobs in either finance, consulting or technology.
What factors should colleges consider when admitting applicants? About 90 percent of Americans believe high school grades and standardized test scores should be a factor in college admissions decisions. Outside of academic accomplishments, many Americans believe that athletic ability, community service involvement and being the first in one’s family to attend college should be considered by admissions committees. What few Americans support, however, is favoring applicants whose parents attended that same college. So-called legacy admissions receives either major or minor support from 32 percent of Americans, but only eight percent support the use of legacy as a major factor.
In the modern news media industry, objective reporting and personal opinions increasingly share the same space. Many prominent, well-respected journalists maintain an active social media presence — in fact, they are almost expected to — giving readers unprecedented access to journalists’ thoughts, personalities and beliefs. It is clear that many journalists who publicize their personal opinions, whether directly or indirectly, still produce high-quality, objective reporting. But enmeshing news and opinion also opens the media to criticism, and in our current national environment, that criticism presents a threat to the credibility of journalism and reporting.
Each term brings new changes to campus. The Greek Leadership Council’s first-year Greek house ban is now in its sixth year, a policy implemented after significant student pressure. Dartmouth Dining Services’ Green2Go program, another student led initiative for sustainable to-go containers, has now expanded to multiple dining locations on campus, with Collis Café rumored to be the next target in the spring. After settling a lawsuit from two-time Paralympic alpine skier Staci Mannella ’18, the College will now implement the Mannella Protocol, meant to create a more inclusive community for disabled students. And recently, the Student Assembly’s resolution challenging the College to create a safe environment free from racist attacks and bigotry elicited action and endorsement from senior administrators.
Dartmouth hails its diversity as an element that enriches its educational environment, calling it “one of [its] great natural resources.” The offices, initiatives and programs dedicated to promoting diversity on campus are flashed across marketing and outreach platforms, meant to demonstrate Dartmouth’s commitment to diversity and praise the impact they’ve had on students. At first glance, the demographics of the student body and the institution’s diversity efforts do appear praiseworthy; viewed more closely, though, it is difficult to ignore the unsettling nature of the language used to describe this diversity.
The sense of disgust in one’s mouth is palpable when reading the racist anonymous messages sent to students and faculty members over the past few months. Thus far, at least 18 students and three faculty members have been targeted by racist and sexually explicit messages — that two of those students had been physically targeted with slurs put on their doors only makes the matter more disturbing. That most of the targets appeared to be Asian, and that this fact played a role in the bigoted mocking present in the messages is even more loathsome.
Dartmouth enters a tumultuous time as it celebrates 250 years of world-class instruction this winter. The College grapples with a widespread culture of sexual assault, intense competition for prestige from larger research universities, divisive proposals to expand the student body, beleaguered traditions like the Homecoming bonfire and perennial questions of diversity. History is in the making — these are the times that will determine Dartmouth’s legacy and identity for generations to come.