Though I was certainly tempted to cram my entire platform into this editorial, I have decided against cramming because, let’s face it, platforms are boring.
Instead, I want to expand on an idea which I call Project: 2000. (Trust me, the name sounds much better in Norwegian.)
Once upon a time (Ten years ago), President Freedman established the Planning Steering Committee, consisting of students, faculty, and administrators, which was given the task of “…articulating a vision of the College which will guide us for the next ten years.” (1996 Annual Report) As we approach the end of the Steering Committee’s articulated era and the beginning of a new decade, I have a question: what is the College’s vision for the NEXT ten years?
Without doubt, there are many issues on this campus which the Administration, together with the Student Body, must address. From DDS to the future of the Greek system, from DarTalk to increases in tuition, we as students have identified several important areas of concern. Even though many valid, short-term solutions have been offered during this campaign, I think that we must also look ahead and work on finding long-term solutions to Dartmouth’s problems.
The first step in this process is acknowledging that we need a campus-wide discussion of what we like about Dartmouth and what still needs improvement. Freedman acknowledged this need ten years ago, but he won’t now. Why not? I don’t have the first clue. But if he won’t, we will.
I want to establish a Project: 2000 Committee which would ideally consist of representatives from all segments of the Dartmouth Community. The President of The Dartmouth, the Chair of the Programming Board, the President of the CFSC, sports teams’ Captains, even President Freedman himself: these are just a few examples of individuals who would be invited to sit on this Committee. In addition, the P2000 Committee would consist of five managing members, each specifically responsible for one of the College’s five ‘areas’ (i.e., divisions).
These managers would initiate a top-to-bottom assessment of Dartmouth. “What is good about Dartmouth? How can we make it even better? What is bad about Dartmouth? How would we like to see things? How do we go about initiating change?” As I’ve mentioned before, these are simple questions which should be discussed and answered by every single member of the Dartmouth Community.
I think that this concept of a student-driven evaluation process might be unique in college education today. Yet, it is so incredibly obvious. Dartmouth, like all schools, exists for its students, so why shouldn’t we be the ones to define the overall vision of the College as we move towards the year 2000, the beginning of a new era for Dartmouth?
Some will say that I am ignoring the short term issues which have an immediate impact on students’ daily lives. On the contrary, I see the P2000 Committee as the perfect tool for distinguishing between issues that can be addressed immediately and those which require a much broader, long-term strategy. Of course, the issues which must be handled immediately (such as the upcoming renewal of the DarTalk contract) will be addressed through the existing framework of the Assembly. However, my belief is that Project: 2000 will provide the Assembly and, more importantly, the Student Body with the tool necessary for securing influence within the Administrative bureaucracy: long-term perspective.
Today, there is much talk of increasing the credibility of the Student Assembly. For years, the Assembly was marred by political bickering and unproductive infighting. However, in the last two years, S.A. has moved towards an apolitical, student services orientation. There can be no questioning the success of this change in philosophy. Today, the Assembly exists to help students improve their daily lives, not to serve as a forum for disgruntled govy majors to debate their competing agendas. And now, it is time for us to take the final step towards becoming a Student Assembly: we must actually represent the students. We must be a unified voice expressing the opinions of a responsible and informed Student Body.
By holding all-campus open forums, panel discussions, and cluster information/feedback sessions, the P2000 Committee could effectively gather student opinion and transform the Assembly into a truly representative organization; one whose agenda was defined by the students themselves. In addition, by working responsibly with all segments of the Dartmouth Community, the Student Assembly would foster trust between the Administration and the Student body: a trust which is necessary if students are to have any say in the governance of their every day lives.
Now, for those of you who still feel the need to read more of my rambling prose, blitz me. I’ll send you the platform… =) frode