Leadership and Change

Over the course of this term, the members of Abaris have used this column as a space to discuss various aspects of leadership at Dartmouth. In doing this, the focus has been abstract in nature, providing an idealized view of what leadership should be.

Now, as the senior members of Abaris prepare to move on, we would like to talk about some actual examples that we think best demonstrate the creative power of leadership.

We see some of these as some — but by no means all — of the organizations and publications that have taken ideals and formed them into realities. In this process, Dartmouth students have become Dartmouth leaders by not only voicing their opinions, but also by acting. They have done so with the ever-present possibility of failure, but they have boldly stood up to make change by creating new traditions. Their willingness to — at the same time — change and conform to the unique social structure of Dartmouth have made these organizations fulfill their purposes to serve the community as a whole.

Amarna, formed in the winter of 1994, came in response to a perceived need for mainstream social options that were not Greek. Founded by a group of ’94s, ’95s, and one ’96, the coed undergraduate society began with a statement of purpose that, above all, strives to promote equity in the Dartmouth community in its social events, community service and intellectual pursuits. At the time, no one who joined really knew what Amarna would become, or even if it would fail. Yet, with its lack of a rush process and fluid constitution that responds to the changing needs of its members, they knew it would be different. And it continues to be different, as quite possibly the only house on campus with their statement of purpose hanging over the fireplace.

Voices provides an opportunity for different perspectives on issues to be heard by the larger community. This intellectual organization allows a forum for Dartmouth students, professors and administration to share their perspectives on issues in and out of Dartmouth, utilizing our wealth of diversity and knowledge to the benefit of the entire community.

Dartmouth Rainbow Alliance over the past few years has undergone significant changes (including their name) to become a more prominent part of our community. They have recently formed a group called Allies consisting of both gay and straight supporters of DRA and gay/lesbian/bisexual issues. This new organization has provided a way for more people to be involved in these issues and to make DRA a more supported part of our community as a whole.

Uncommon Threads has begun to fill the space that Spare Rib left to discuss feminist and other gender issues. In its first issue that came out only weeks ago, the publication showed its promise, especially since most of its contributors have much time left at Dartmouth. In a similar vein, Intersections, an academic journal of feminist thought, was created by two senior women and has just published a very impressive second issue. By giving students opportunities to write about feminist issues of all types, the creators and the editors of all these publications have provided a forum for feminist issues to be discussed in print on campus. This is a welcome development.

Finally, Dartmouth United is one organization that reflects all of these qualities. By creating a new type of social space for the larger Dartmouth community, DU is committed to adaptability. DU is for everyone and belongs to no one. It refuses to be pigeonholed.

Through its cosponsorship of various events with a wide-range of organizations, DU ensures that a large diversity of interests will be represented. Social and intellectual in nature, the organization shows what leaders on campus can do when they want to effectively create change — and new traditions.

None of these organizations could have been successful without leaders who were — and are — unafraid to take chances. Because of the emphasis of tradition at Dartmouth, new ideas can fail. But when they do not, new traditions are created that either break with old ones, or adapt them to the needs of a changing Dartmouth.

This is what Abaris has attempted to do. It remains to be seen what the newest senior society will become. And we think it is this uncertainty — this promise — that is the beauty of new traditions.

We would now like to recognize the founding members of Abaris, a group of seniors: Jessica L. Anenberg, Shelley M. H. Arakawa, Della C. Bennett, James F. Brennan, Kristen S. Carlone, Ilana L. Davidi, Aimee M. Diaz, Kerry A. Fiacco, Garrett M. Gil de Rubio, Sara E. Goodson, Abbey L. Henderson, Kimberly Koontz, Suzanne J. Leonard, Adam S. Medros, Mary V. O’Connor, Barnaby J. Olson, Thomas D. O’Shea, Amy L. Peller, Derek G. Shendell, Zachary W. Stein, Leonardo Stezano, Lisa B. Stigler, Morgen A. Sullivan, Daniel R. Walker, Holly B. Weaver, Marilyn A. Wrenn, and those members who chose not to have their names published.

We wish you all the best of luck in your time after Dartmouth and hope that you will ever strive for the betterment of leadership.

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