Lee and O’Connell: A Plurality of Voices

At Dartmouth, there is a pervasive belief that students in certain positions can speak for the entire student body. In the recent Student Assembly presidential and vice-presidential elections, candidates discussed the need to engage with “campus leaders” in particular to understand student concerns, while administrators and even reporters of The Dartmouth often approach the same individuals in leadership positions to assess student opinion. The idea that one student can articulate the complex perspectives of over 4,000 undergraduates, however, is problematic and shortsighted. The voices of those who are able to devote their time to positional leadership roles in campus organizations are certainly worth listening to, but they are not the only ones that matter.

Understandably, calling upon those with leadership titles is a popular method of gauging public opinion. In our roles as Inter-Community Council chairs, we have been asked to represent the student experience on a number of hiring and advisory committees. But the philosophy of the Inter-Community Council is to bring other students to these opportunities instead of taking them on ourselves. Those seeking student perspectives and those offering them must recognize the limitation of a single student or group’s voice in representing campus opinion. Dartmouth students not just those with formal leadership positions have a wide range of perspectives, and it is this diversity of viewpoints that makes our community stronger and smarter.

The upcoming presidential search must account for Dartmouth’s diverse student perspectives by increasing the number of student representatives. In 2008, only one student the president of the Student Assembly sat on the Presidential Search Committee that selected College President Jim Yong Kim. Should this year’s committee follow the precedent established in 2008, newly elected Student Body President Suril Kantaria would serve as the sole student representative on the next search committee. Kantaria expressed a desire to involve more voices in the search process through a website soliciting student input (“Kantaria and Danford assume new positions,” April 25). While online input, forums and open meetings with the search committee will be useful in the months ahead to engage the broader community and assess student interests, it is imperative that the process formally involve more than one student representative.

We commend search committee chair Bill Helman ’80 for pledging to represent a “diverse cross-section of the Dartmouth community” in the search process (“Helman to lead search committee,” April 20). In creating this committee, he faces a challenging task: Many different groups will feel they need more representation, as the decision regarding a new College president undoubtedly impacts every member of the Dartmouth community. What we all share, however, is the goal of making Dartmouth a world-class institution of higher education. Failing to fully represent the student voice on the search committee would impede our ability to carry out this vision. After all, the student body itself is at the heart of education.

The incoming College president will have a steep learning curve when it comes to understanding student life. In addition to being targeted in a widely publicized hazing scandal, the administration has launched important binge drinking and sexual assault initiatives that require continued leadership. While trustees, alumni and faculty can provide crucial perspectives in the search process, none are better suited to articulate student concerns than current students themselves. Moreover, whether in a Rolling Stone article or in the search for our next president, a single individual cannot possibly convey the depth and breadth of the student experience at Dartmouth. Trustee Helman has a wonderful opportunity to enrich the search for Dartmouth’s new president by increasing the number of student members of the committee. We recommend that he seizes it.

**Patricia Lee ’12 and Chris O’Connell ’13 are co-chairs of the Inter-Community Council.”

Kim: Lessons in Advocacy

With over 100 million YouTube viewers, the KONY 2012 campaign certainly proved the immense potential of viral activism. Last Friday, however, “Cover the Night,” the intended culmination of the growing global movement, saw an astoundingly meager turnout around the world. In stark contrast to marketed images of a sea of excited activists taking to the streets in a grand display of social justice, large cities like Vancouver, British Columbia and Brisbane, Australia posted figures of 17 and 50 volunteers, respectively.

“Cover the Night” was a sobering conclusion to a movement that has built up so much momentum in the past few months. In his column last month, Paul Strauch expressed hope that by “demonstrating how policy can be influenced through mass mobilization,” KONY 2012 would set a new precedent for social justice advocacy (“Caution for KONY Critics,” March 28). Unfortunately, it seems the “armchair critics” and skeptics around the world have been proven right. Simply liking a YouTube video or tweeting about an ongoing social injustice does nothing to mitigate it.

Invisible Children’s singular fixation on press coverage has dried up the energy and excitement necessary to mobilize substantive aid and development funding for areas still suffering from the Lord’s Resistance Army’s reign of terror. Contrary to many criticisms of the campaign, the LRA still maintains a dangerous presence in the Central African Republic. In fact, Invisible Children’s Crisis Tracker reveals a current abduction rate on par with last year’s recorded 401 abductions, with 42 abductions occurring in the past month alone. While Invisible Children is undoubtedly fighting for a worthy cause, is the organization really using its funds most effectively by investing in posters, iPhone apps and celebrity tours?

By quickly constructing a broadly marketable icon to social media addicted youths, Invisible Children seems to have forgotten to plan its next course of action. Two weeks ago, as student representatives of the charity held a public viewing of KONY 2012 at the College, many students questioned what exactly the “Cover the Night” event hoped to accomplish. Presenters responded by calling on students to “write to their representatives” to voice their support. Yet policymakers have already acted, sending roughly 100 military advisors to aid in the efforts to capture Joseph Kony. Instead of creating an agenda of community organization and action, Invisible Children left volunteers to essentially fend for themselves.

Allegations of fund and campaign mismanagement have followed Invisible Children throughout its viral campaign. In one noteworthy example, the organization offered Grant Oyston of Visible Children, a blog critical of the video campaign, an all-expenses paid trip to Africa to view the situation first hand. Understandably, the charity hopes to clean some of its tarnished public image, but it seems strange that such public relations stunts would take precedence over anything else.

“We get the feeling that Invisible Children care more about their videos than about victims,” Victor Ochen founder and director of the African Youth Initiative Network, which works to rehabilitate victims of LRA violence said. Indeed, Invisible Children’s public finances indicate this focus, with actual expenditures on central African programs comprising only 37 percent of fiscal expenditures last year. With millions of dollars in donation revenue, the fact that the vast majority of funding is not reaching affected areas needs to be open to criticism and probing rather than simply being brushed aside.

With its relevant and energizing message of social justice and internationalism, Invisible Children had the potential to transform into something powerful. Perhaps if it had followed the advice of U.N. Undersecretary General Radhika Coomaraswamy and allotted more funds to initiatives like reintegration programs for former child soldiers of the LRA, its campaign could have greater impact. Once again, the dangers of oversimplification can bias expense allocation. LRA combatants will not simply disappear once their leaders are killed or captured. Reintegration is an arduous and costly but valuable process of reunifying abducted children with their families and community networks while also providing psychosocial support and healing.

As it is, KONY 2012 seems to be declining in relevancy fast. One lesson the campaign’s organizers may have learned by now is that awareness only goes so far toward effecting change. If they hope to continue their campaign, they would do well to learn from these mistakes.

Vann Island

Getting injured while playing a sport is never fun. It is especially brutal when you strain your hip flexor in your first ever practice as a collegiate athlete. But that’s how my freshman preseason commenced at Dartmouth, which by default put me on the sidelines, where I was able to get a better perspective of what I was getting myself into for the next four years.

Naturally, I evaluated my competition and scanned the gridiron to see what kind of team we were shaping up to be for the upcoming season. I had the fortune of having some good company on the sidelines with me in fellow wideout James O’Brien ’10, and I constantly picked his brain.

Even though there was definitely a higher level of play in college and a more organized structure of practice than I was accustomed to seeing at the high school level, nothing really stood out to me until the final installment of practice, which is called “team period.” The second-string offense was on the field, and the play was a simple stretch handoff to the running back. There was traffic in the hole, but the tailback made a devastating spin move. He then used sheer speed to outrun the entire defense to the end zone. That was when I said to my sideline companion, “Okay. Now who is that guy?”

That guy was Nick Schwieger ’12. The only reason Schwieger was running with the twos at the beginning of training camp was out of respect for his running-mate Rob Mitchelson ’10, who was entering his senior year. Schwieger made the whole Dartmouth community proud on Saturday, when he signed a contract to play for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

When you watch Schwieger play, it’s hard not to think of New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead. In terms of physical stature and skill set, Schwieger and Woodhead are almost mirror images of each other. But in my opinion, the most striking similarity between the two is their path to the NFL. Both played their college ball at small schools Woodhead played at tiny Division-II Chadron State College and both were signed as free agents directly after the draft.

For those of you who are not familiar with Woodhead, let me present you with a name you may have heard this winter Jeremy Lin. Although Schwieg-sanity doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, if Nick is able to make the Rams final roster and make an impact in the pros, you can bet the house that there will be plenty of national hype.

The obvious connection between the two is that both Lin and Schwieger attended Ivy League institutions. But when you dig deeper, you will find that both athletes were overlooked by larger schools in their respective areas and have continuously had to silence critics every step of the way. Schwieger’s ability was undeniable at the high school level. However, when FBS schools like Boston College were thinking about offering Nick a scholarship, there was always some unspoken reservation. And I believe that reservation stemmed from the current prevailing wisdom regarding white running backs in football.

I tried to think of the white running backs currently in the NFL, and I got as far as Woodhead, Peyton Hillis, Toby Gerhart and Brian Leonard before I had to cheat on Google. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that, like Lin, some aspect of ethnic prejudice has stunted Schwieger’s path to the NFL.

When former Dartmouth offensive coordinator Jim Pry, who came from coaching Big Ten-caliber talent at the University of Illinois, used to watch film of Schwieger, he would always remark, “This kid could play against anyone in the country.” But in reality, Schwieger wasn’t playing against anyone in the country. He was playing against Ivy Leaguers. And when NFL scouts consider this factor, they usually think, “Oh, he was just beating up on a bunch of soft, nerdy kids. Let’s see what happens when he has to pick up Ray Lewis on a blitz.”

Lin dealt with the same type of skepticism from NBA scouts, and the reason he was able to turn the doubters into believers was his work ethic the same reason for which I think Schwieger has a legitimate shot at making a name for himself in the league. When Schwieger found out that he was going to the Rams, he posted a tweet that said, “#dreamchasin.” Notice how he understands that the dream isn’t fully realized. While it’s very cool to have the opportunity to play in the NFL, Schwieger’s real dream is to seize that opportunity and make it happen that’s when his dream will be truly fulfilled.

Softball splits series with Harvard

The Dartmouth softball team finished its season in second place in the Ivy League's North Division.

The Dartmouth softball team finished its season in impressive fashion last weekend, splitting a four-game series with Harvard University, who finished with the Ivy League’s top regular season record. In Cambridge, Mass. on Saturday, the Big Green (14-25, 7-13 Ivy) won its first game, 4-2, before losing a close game to the Crimson (31-13, 17-3 Ivy), 2-1. In Hanover on Sunday, Dartmouth lost the first game, 4-0, before winning the second, 9-3.

“I’m proud of the way we ended and proud of the way girls played,” head coach Rachel Hanson said. “This sets us up well to be a threat next year.”

On Saturday, Dartmouth beat Harvard for the first time since 2009 after fending off multiple Crimson comeback attempts. The Big Green took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Kat Hicks ’12 lined a single to center field, and Hillary Hubert ’13 drove her home with an RBI double to right-center field.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Big Green added another run to take a 2-0 lead. Hillary Barker ’12 led off the inning with a single before Hanson brought in Megan Averitt ’15 to pinch run for Barker. Averitt moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and later scored on a single by Noelle Ramirez ’13. Harvard added a run in the fifth inning, making the score 2-1.

In the top of the sixth, Kristen Rumley ’15 smashed a leadoff double, and Barker drove her home on yet another Big Green double. Harvard scored once again in the bottom of the sixth, but Rumley’s composure on the mound kept the Dartmouth lead intact heading into the seventh.

Fellow pitcher Barker described Rumley’s poise in the circle.

“She doesn’t get upset when she’s in the circle and can perform in clutch situations,” Barker said. “Staying composed is one of the best things you can have as a pitcher.”

The Big Green added one more run in the top of the seventh to win, 4-2.

“The momentum switched a lot in this game, but the girls kept playing our style of play,” Hanson said.

The second game was scoreless until Dartmouth finally broke the deadlock on an RBI single by Ramirez in the fourth inning.

In the fifth inning, Harvard responded with two runs, proved to make the difference in the game. Dartmouth had a chance to come back in the seventh after Ramirez led off the inning with a single, but she was immediately caught stealing. Crimson pitcher Rachel Brown retired the next two batters to record the save. Barker was impressive in the circle, going six innings and allowing two runs on three hits.

The Big Green faced Harvard once again at Dartmouth Softball Park on Sunday. Dartmouth had a sluggish first game, as the Crimson scored runs in the first, fifth, sixth and seventh innings to win by a score of 4-0. Rumley was Dartmouth’s only source of offense, collecting the team’s only hit in the first inning. She also pitched all seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits while tallying 11 strikeouts.

“Kristen has done a great job of growing,” Hanson said. “She finished the season strong.”

In its last game of the season, the Big Green used a six-run third inning to trounce the Crimson, 9-3. Harvard threatened in the top of the fourth but only scored three runs before Barker shut the Crimson down in the final game of her Dartmouth career.

“I definitely think the team bounced back well on Sunday,” Barker said. “We just brought a ton of energy to the second game.”

Hicks and Katie Adams ’13 led Dartmouth offensively with two hits each. Barker pitched the entire game, allowing three runs on four hits and recording five strikeouts.

“I’m just really proud of the seniors,” Hanson said. “They’ve put in four years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears.”

Dartmouth will lose five seniors this year, but the team is “very excited for next season,” according to Hanson.

“We’re excited to build on the way we ended this year,” Hanson said.

‘Going Gaga’ approaches feminism through low theory

In

While pop culture does periodically find its way into classroom discussions and the realm of academia, it is not often that contemporary, mega-famous icons weave their way seamlessly into the university landscape. In a Monday lecture in Dartmouth Hall, Jack Halberstam a celebrated theorist of popular, visual and queer culture discussed singer Lady Gaga to outline his “Gaga Manifesto,” which is at the heart of his new book, “Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal.” Slated for release this September, the book approaches feminism through popular culture.

Halberstam is a professor of English, American studies and ethnicity and gender studies at the University of Southern California, but he is also USC’s Director of the Center for Feminist Research. His books “Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters” and “Female Masculinity” have made significant contributions in redefining subcultures and “low theory,” a means of using varying levels of discourse to appeal to a variety of different audiences.

Halberstam’s lecture focused on the overall concept of “going Gaga” and looking at her as a “global media symbol” representing change “in sex, gender and politics.”

He began the lecture by defining low theory as what speaks “to people who aren’t trained in the expertise of the academy.” Halberstam went on to explain that low theory is about making the complexity of academic arguments available to multiple audiences, and this theory can provide some answers to the frequently debated topic of the humanities’ relevance in the academic sphere. He mentioned that one of the most basic points of his “Gaga Feminism” is to determine if low theory has any merit in academia.

Lady Gaga is a perfect icon because she is socially relevant, and as a result, she virtually cannot be ignored, according to Halberstam. For these reasons, the “Gaga Manifesto” describes the main points of “going Gaga” as making connections, finding each other and “being fantastic.”

“The image of Lady Gaga saturates pop culture,” he said. “Think of her as an Andy Warhol figure, a figure for understanding shifting relationships with money, art and the workplace, as a figure by whom to think about massive scale cultural shifts.”

Halberstam showed a clip of Lady Gaga performing alongside artist Yoko Ono in order to demonstrate what he meant by “going Gaga” while also demonstrating female pop figures that preceded her, ranging from the lesser-known Grace Jones to Madonna. The clip, which depicted Gaga in a shimmering black body suit moving almost spastically while scat singing, presented the artist in a much different light than her “Born this Way” music video, for example.

“[Ono and Gaga] encourage each other to go to ever increasing levels of dynamic frenzy,” Halberstam said.

He used the London punk movement and the Occupy Wall Street Movement to convey his belief that “in times of great crisis, we want to intensify crisis and not resolve it.”

Halberstam praised the Occupy protests for challenging the modern perspective on what is normal and for its element of interventionism and performativity.

He also introduced lyrics from the Fleet Foxes song, “Helplessness Blues,” into his lecture in order to call identities into question.

“Identity is the most crude way of thinking about what people have in common,” he said.

While the song initially praises individuals for being unique, the message shifts to a more dystopian vision in which humans simply function as cogs in larger machinery.

“It is only when something goes wrong that the body becomes unique,” Halberstam said. “Songs rarely achieve the message of serving a higher purpose.”

Halberstam displayed uniqueness as a form of marginality in a scene from Wes Anderson’s stop-motion film “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), which depicts a lone black wolf on the side of the road. The scene has become controversial since the foxes raise their fist to his presence, resembling the Black Power symbol. Halberstam used this scene to demonstrate the collision of high and low culture through cinema.

“The gesture is about solidarity and about reaching for a kind of alliance that isn’t here yet,” he said. “We should be ready at a moment’s notice to throw up a fist to show our solidarity with the low, the queer and the Gaga.”

Daily Debriefing

In an effort to gain support from college students and their parents, both Democrats and Republicans have begun to focus on rising interest rates on subsidized college loans, The New York Times reported. After fending off a weeklong attack from President Barack Obama regarding a potential 3.4-percent increase, Republicans in the House of Representatives will vote on Friday in hopes of preventing the July 1 increase from occurring, The Times reported. Both sides said they agree that these interest rates must be decreased, but Republicans wish to cut money from a program within the 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while Democrats want the money to come from repealing tax breaks on oil companies, according to The Times. Without legislative action, it is predicted that the interest rates will revert to 6.8 percent, which will have a significant impact on graduates entering an already “sluggish” job market, The Times reported.

Former Texas Lutheran University President Rev. Ann Svennungsen, along with 28 other current and former college leaders, publicly came forward on Monday as charter members of the Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Members of this organization pledged to donate 5 percent of their earnings this year to charities that fight global poverty. The goal of the pledge is to help accomplish the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing the number of people in the world who live in extreme poverty by half by 2015, according to The Chronicle. Svennungsen said she was disappointed that the number of presidents who joined the pledge was not as high as she anticipated, the Chronicle reported.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order that protects veterans from being deceptively recruited by institutions of higher education that aim to reap military benefits from veterans and their families, according to The New York Times. Current laws encourage for-profit colleges to seek these benefits because 10 percent of their revenue must come from a private source, which includes veterans’ benefits, while 90 percent comes from federal student aid, The Times reported. Eight for-profit colleges received $636 million in G.I. Bill benefits last year, and dropout rates at most of them were above 50 percent, according to a recent study by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Harkin recently introduced legislation that would prohibit for-profit college and universities from using taxpayer dollars to fund their advertising campaigns and other recruiting efforts, according to The Times.

McAllister pleads guilty to two counts of fraud

Bruce McAllister ’54 Tu ’58 pleaded guilty on April 25 to a charge of fraud by wire, radio or television at the U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vt., according to the Chittenden County Clerk’s office. McAllister was charged with transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bank accounts of several non-profit organizations to his own bank accounts while he was employed as the treasurer of these organizations for a period of over 20 years beginning in the 1980s.

Two organizations Dartmouth’s Alpha Theta coeducational fraternity and The Meccawe Club, a fishing club in Bridgewater, Vt. filed private lawsuits in 2011 alleging that McAllister and his wife Judith McAllister embezzled approximately $230,000 from Alpha Theta and $130,000 from Meccawe while acting as treasurer of the two organizations. McAllister was dismissed as treasurer of Alpha Theta House Corporation last February. At this time, officials discovered that Alpha Theta had $98.92 in its bank account.

“The fraternity is following the case and will participate in the sentencing process,” house advisor Geoff Bronner ’91 wrote in an email to The Dartmouth, declining to comment on the specifics of the case.

The defense claims that the amount of money transferred has been overestimated by the prosecution, The Burlington Free Press reported.

McAllister was indicted in November 2011. The indictment accused McAllister of “having devised a scheme and artifice to defraud Alpha Theta House Corp. and The Meccawe Club” and plotting “to obtain money from those organizations by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises, and for the purpose of executing such scheme and artifice.”

McAllister will appear at a sentencing hearing before a judge on Sept. 24. He could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, The Burlington Free Press reported. As part of the plea deal, McAllister will “receive credit for accepting responsibility and will be sentenced at the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines,” The Burlington Free Press reported.

The indictment occurred as a result of the private lawsuits, which “drew the attention” of the U.S. Secret Service in Vermont, The Burlington Free Press reported. The lawsuits which accuse McAllister of transferring funds from the two organizations to himself, his wife and “Sugartop Sawmill,” a lumber company that he ran in his backyard are still pending.

McAllister previously worked as an auditor for the College but is not suspected of embezzling money from the College.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence of any fraud at this point,” Director of Media Relations for the College Justin Anderson said in an interview with The Dartmouth in November.

The lost money has not affected events or activities for current members of Alpha Theta, Bronner said. This is due in large part to financial support from alumni, he said.

President of The Meccawe Club Terry Boone could not be reached for comment. George Ostler ’77, McAllister’s lawyer, and members of Alpha Theta contacted by The Dartmouth declined to comment.

Anderson declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

Otto calls for more science in politics

The stigma against science in modern politics threatens the American democratic process, and it is necessary to reform public perception of scientific issues such as climate change, author and filmmaker Shawn Lawrence Otto said in a Monday lecture at the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center.

Once viewed as a source of national pride, science has become a “discomforting” topic in current politics, he said in his lecture titled “Scientists, the Media and Politicians in the Climate Change Debate,” which drew ideas from his newest book “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America.”

During the 2007 Hollywood writers’ strike, Otto, who is also a screenwriter, co-founded “Science Debate 2008,” an initiative aimed at organizing a presidential debate to discuss science-related policies before the 2008 election, he said.

“Virtually none of the presidential candidates were talking about science, and even though over 30,000 scientists signed onto our campaign, we couldn’t get much media coverage or response from candidates,” he said. “This was very curious to me and made me ask, What has happened today where science has become such a taboo topic to talk about?'”

Otto said that science must be considered in addressing future policy challenges because of the fast pace of information discovery, and science plays a critical role in contributing to democratic ideals.

“Because of the vast growth of scientists all over the world and the great interconnectivity that exists, we’re going to create as much knowledge in the next 40 years as we did in the last 400 years,” Otto said. “Science, freedom, authoritarianism and democracy these are the ideas that are important to who we are.”

One major reason for which science is often dismissed in public dialogue is because it is difficult for most people to understand “invisible things,” according to Otto.

“The idea of quantum mechanics, for example, is roughly equivalent in the public’s view of magic,” Otto said, pointing to a picture of Harry Potter. “Because people cannot explain how many scientific processes works, society has turned science into a belief issue more than a knowledge issue.”

Climate change, for example, has fallen victim to the problem of “invisibility,” Otto said, citing popular political movements that deny climate change, as well as Republican presidential candidates who state factually incorrect information about global warming. Participants of and listeners to such ideas believe they are being told true information, he said.

“When we talk about products, especially when pitching to Congress, we sell the commodity of knowledge we’re creating,” he said. “We leave out the process and the concrete argument, and this makes it difficult for voters. People really believe what they are told. This is dangerous to democracy because there’s a large segment of the population that believe what they see.”

Science has never been a partisan issue, but is a fundamentally political one, according to Otto. Science is anti-authoritative and neither conservative nor progressive, he said.

Otto said that many politicians attempt to make reasoned arguments about scientific issues such as climate change but do not possess a great deal of knowledge about the issue.

“What happens to democracy in a world dominated by complex science that the majority of people just do not really understand?” Otto asked the audience.

In order to reverse this culture of “emotion-based” arguments about science, Otto said it is necessary to rapidly confront and debunk science that is “spinned.”

Otto said that once people begin to emphasize the process of science and not the product, concepts can be made into concrete ideas, and people will be able to be involved in the thought process and think for themselves.

“Science is a humanitarian cause that values independent judgment, is tolerant and open to the free flow of information and is democratic by nature,” Otto said. “We need to protect science and advocate for it.”

The lecture was co-sponsored by the environmental studies department, the biology department and the graduate student councils, and it was part of the “Communication Street Fight” series.