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Rush is here. Dartmouth’s rush system — and the Greek organizations it feeds — are both imperfect, but for the weekend they are here to stay. For both members of the Class of 2020 hoping to join Greek houses and affiliated students, these few weeks are a stressful time. Even for those uninvolved, the campus atmosphere can feel decidedly different.
Last month, College President Phil Hanlon announced a working group that will “explore the opportunities and challenges of increasing the size of the undergraduate student body.” This occurs as the College faces a housing shortage, a low rate of faculty increase and a shortage of classroom space, not to mention increasingly crowded dining halls and study facilities. Before it even considers increasing the size of the student body, Dartmouth should first address existing concerns, since any increase in undergraduates should be accompanied by new extensive facilities and an equal or greater increase in faculty numbers.
Opportunities for independent creation, the most important of which is simply free time, have become rarer and rarer on college campuses. Dartmouth, like most higher education institutions, would surely like to produce more acclaimed writers, more lauded artists, more successful entrepreneurs and more vaunted musicians. However, the next Donna Tartt or Vampire Weekend is unlikely to come out of institutionalized creativity. Armed with the necessary resources, students will create, not because they are told to, but because they want to.
This column was featured in the Green Key 2017 Special Issue: "Awakening."
Sixty-one percent of students admitted to Dartmouth’s Class of 2021 accepted their offer of admission, the highest yield rate in the last 25 years according to the College. This figure is almost 10 percent higher than recent yield rates, which may lead us to instinctively believe that it signifies something important, perhaps the success of the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative or an increase in the caliber of current students.
This week alone, the College is holding almost 40 lectures, not counting those at its professional schools. These include presentations by a noted novelist, an expert on the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and a federal judge. All of these talks are free to students and the public. Most students will not have regular opportunities to go to events with speakers of this caliber ever again.
Dartmouth’s new housing system was designed to encourage safer, more stable communities within campus. Yet professor Jane Hill’s recent dismissal from her position as Allen House professor belies a sense of shakiness in this new system. With two of the six initial house professors now gone — North Park House professor Ryan Calsbeek stepped down this past fall — Dartmouth is going against its stated mission to provide strong communal bonds between the students and faculty.
William Pitt the Younger became Britain’s prime minister when he was 24. For most of his time in parliament, his constituency was the University of Cambridge. Until 1950, the United Kingdom allowed the students and alumni of universities to elect members to its national legislature, and Pitt, a man who would rule his country through many of its most tumultuous moments, took office when he was barely older than the average Dartmouth senior today.
Student Assembly elections are next week, and social media is buzzing with candidates’ promotional photos and posts. With the election comes the age old question: what exactly does Student Assembly do? What should it do? For an organization meant to be the voice of Dartmouth’s student body to the administration, Student Assembly has potential that is currently untapped and under-supported.
Unlike its Ivy League peers, Dartmouth is not situated in the great northeastern cities or suburbs. Yet, it is in this setting that we can best embody the spirit of those who have come before us: that of a small liberal arts college, with an undergraduate focus, where faculty and students work closely together and where learning is pursued for its own sake.
Four hundred and twenty-two New Hampshire residents died of drug overdoses in 2015, the second-highest rate, in percentage terms, of any state. Nearly 500 died from overdoses in 2016. Our state’s residents are dying painful deaths, and the primary driver of these deaths are opioids.
During his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump said that, “American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.” He’s right: we’ve reached a moment of scientific achievement where reaching Mars is possible, where greater exploration of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter is around the corner. Our government, in partnership with private industry, should engage with the scientific community to create a doctrine of exploration and advancement. The future of humanity involves advancement in space alongside continued focus on real and pressing economic, environmental and justice-related concerns on Earth.
The email comes back. It’s another “no.” Inboxes fill up with them, from clubs, from jobs, from professors. Many jobs won’t even bother to tell you that you haven’t made the cut, either — a denial through the attrition of time. Dartmouth’s social life is similar, with hoops to jump through to get through the doors of a manse on Webster or a crypt on Wheelock.
Vice President Mike Pence was apparently among the last people to learn that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied to him about his contacts with Russian operatives. Pence read about Flynn’s deceptions while reading the newspaper. “That’s comforting: at least our next president reads the newspaper,” Seth Meyers quipped.
“Isn’t it dreadful? Here we are, two officers of the German General Staff, discussing how best to murder our commander-in-chief,” said Henning von Tresckow, a major general in the Wehrmacht, as he plotted with his fellows to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This will not be a comparison of President Donald Trump to the forces von Tresckow and his contemporaries faced when they defied their government, their orders and their training as soldiers in an effort to bring about the end of Nazism. This is, however, a laudable example of the morality of government employees who stood up for their country even when it meant working against their leader.
“This House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country.” That was a motion passed by the Oxford Union Society on Feb. 9, 1933. Argued by pro-Soviet students and philosopher C.E.M. Joad, the motion supported a pacifist United Kingdom, one built upon peace and tolerance. It was heartily opposed by, amongst others, Quintin Hogg, later Baron Hailsham of St. Marylebone, later a Conservative Party politician, who refused to shake his opponent’s hand at the debate’s conclusion, because he was so angered by what he saw as an unpatriotic resolution.
There is a literary motif of a line of thrones filled with carvings of kings and queens: the first rulers with wise, kind faces in a line that descends into an ending of cruel and twisted effigies. Here lies a metaphor for the sweep of history, with societies first valuing noble, gracious sovereigns, then — through strife and corruption — selecting instead those of lower moral bearing.
As if questions of so-called fake news could not get any more lurid and absurdist, on Tuesday night Americans were treated to a report published by Buzzfeed news that, amongst other things, claimed that President-elect Donald Trump paid a slew of Muscovite prostitutes to defile a bed used by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama while Trump watched. Whether the claim is true is, ultimately, relatively immaterial: millions of Americans will hear it and believe it, many millions more will dismiss it as propaganda regardless of its provenance or any process undertaken to confirm or rebut the accusations.
Judging from internet memes, press coverage and the national election, 2016 was the year the world went mad. To paraphrase the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” the world seemed to have turned upside down. One piece of unity amongst a year of division came from grief, however. Celebrity death after celebrity death marred 2016 — and, as the baby boomer stars of our youth age, that trend will likely accelerate.
This election was about race. This election was about gender. This election was about sexuality. This election was about religion. This election was about inequality.