Is Dartmouth Receptive to Change? Point
By Lauren Vespoli, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, September 14, 2012
To examine Dartmouth’s history is to observe that the College is resistant to change. Probably the most momentous example of this reactionary behavior was in response to one of the largest changes at Dartmouth: the admittance of women beginning in 1972. The signs telling “co-hogs” to go home, the ranking of girls as they entered Thayer Dining Hall — we’ve all heard the horror stories of the actions of the loud, dissenting contingent of men on campus. Recently, Dartmouth has been beset with change — the new Fall term schedule, a new dining plan and facility, new alcohol and hazing policies and the loss of a president, to give a few highlights.
As the angsty, disaffected, reactionary student body that we are, we have naturally taken a stand against those changes that we found unsatisfactory and ... well, actually, we’ve pretty much just complained. Except for that one kid who tried to sue DDS. He must have loved salad-as-a-pizza.
But for the most part, changes at Dartmouth are implemented by the administration and everyone else — students, faculty, alumni and employees — must live with the daily consequences. And we do, after some good moaning and groaning.
When Jim Yong Kim was nominated to be president of the World Bank, we rejoiced. When he accepted the job that is the culminating experience of his life’s work, many grumbled that he had been using us all along. All anyone could talk about last fall and winter was how much they hated the new FoCo. Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s new alcohol and hazing policies? We have yet to see how that one’s going to play out. Recent changes we have accepted without resistance? KAF, because how do you get mad about a bakery opening in the library, and the new Fall term schedule that makes winter break a month-and-a-half long.
Perhaps less obvious than our outright resistance to change is student complacency in the face of issues that are important to us — for example, concern with the dominance of fraternities as social spaces on campus. At this stage, it’s a trite issue, but my girl friends and I have often complained about how we wish that there were more popular weekend night activities that didn’t involve picking ping pong balls out of pools of sludge or slugging Zhenka, yet we still attend tails with our Greek houses and play pong.
We all know what we’d like to change, but perhaps it is the brevity of our time at Dartmouth or our busy schedules or fear that keeps us from turning our resistance from chatter into greater action. Institutional memory is short. Once the ’14s graduate, no one will remember what Home Plate was, and our complaints will either be recycled by the next generation of Dartmouth students or preserved only by some editorials in The D archives.
Oh, wait a second. I’ve just remembered an issue that made Dartmouth students take a stand: H-Po’s threatened “sting operations,” that were announced during Winter term two years ago. There was a Facebook group! People were going to register to vote in a local election and really show Nick Giaccone! But the sting operations never came to fruition, and Dartmouth students found a new scapegoat.