Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beyond the Bubble

In today's The Dartmouth, Brian Chao '09 writes that James Wright's work with wounded soldiers makes him proud to be a Dartmouth student and that it's nice to be reminded that there are more important things than political bickering at Dartmouth. While I agree that President Wright is doing great things in his work down in Washington, I have some questions about Chao's next point - that President Wright has a duty as college president to contribute to the outside world.

Many universities choose leaders that are nationally recognizable figures. To give some examples from the Clinton Administration, Donna Shalala is the president of the University of Miami and Erskine Bowles runs the University of North Carolina. But we do things differently. James Freedman was the only Dartmouth president in the past century who was not a graduate or faculty member of the college. I believe strongly in internal promotion. Dan Nelson '75, for example, certainly deserves to be named permanent Dean of the College, and I think he would do a much better job than any of the random candidates Dartmouth has brought in. As a graduate and a longtime administrator, he understands Dartmouth like no newcomer possibly could, myself included. Dartmouth has quirks - we don't need somebody to fix them.

As much as the good press about Wright is valuable, the job of college president is to make Dartmouth the best college it can be. When that's the goal, everything else follows naturally. Nobody can name the president of Harvard but they know it's a great school. There's no need for James Wright to become a household name, but we need Dartmouth to be ubiquitous in the public consciousness. I think his work with the soldiers is absolutely great, but it's a nice extracurricular activity, not his job.

Fratless Fun?

Slightly off the beaten path, this month's Dartmouth Independent has an excellent article by Michael Murov on the administration's views about social spaces at Dartmouth. Murov does a good job of explaining the philosophical intuition behind the Wright administration's approach to alternative social opportunities and their efforts to create new places to hang out and have fun. Insightful quotes from Martin Redman, the Dean of Residential Life, are featured throughout the article and really sheds light on what's going on inside Parkhurst. As always I'm surprised by Dean Redman's candor - he admits that Lone Pine is pointless and suggests that the college should pay for alcohol. Last year, I was at a public discussion where he said that he wanted to get rid of affinity housing. It's doubtful that he represents the united view of the administration, but his thoughts are very interesting. Apparently, when it comes to social life, the administration isn't as delusional and confused as I had thought.

Good Food, Wrong Town

Last Friday, the Mirror had a "Graduate from DDS" listing of good food places around the Upper Valley. That's nice to know about, but like any decent city kid, I can't really drive, so that doesn't help much. Thanks for trying.

Monday, May 28, 2007

CNN: "Football-and-Fraternities Faction" Victorious

CNN.com ran an article on on the recent trustee election as part of their "StudentNews" section. The article is a little over-the-top and makes Stephen Smith sound completely evil. Richard Routhier, the head of the nominating committee for the Alumni Council's trustee candidate said that Smith was not forthcoming about his conservative views, which strikes me as bullshit because it was pretty obvious that Smith was the conservative candidate. While Smith's non-Dartmouth political views might be important to some, it's not really germane in this election. It would be bizarre if one the trustee candidates started campaigning on their position on abortion or healthcare.

It also annoys me that they put all of this in the same sentence: "In the past decade, Dartmouth has cracked down on underage drinking, investigated racist and anti-Semitic incidents and put fraternities on a short leash, banning one for newsletters that detailed members' sexual exploits." Drinking and being in a fraternity shouldn't go in the same breath as a discussion about hate crimes and anti-Semitism. But I guess it's all the same to the ignorant outsider.

Facebook: Nachman is beyond liberal

Facebook has just added a new applications feature, where outside developers can write little applications that users can put on their profiles. As with all new Facebook features, it's of dubious quality, at least for now. One of these new gadgets is a polticial "compass" from the Washington Post, which gauges and displays your political ideologue based on a ten-question survey. The survey is pretty basic, with questions about abortion, death penalty, taxes, and other typical liberal/conservative dividers. The answers are in the form of "disagree strongly," "disagree," etc.

According to the survey, my political views are to the left of the average liberal position. But the survey doesn't really measure how liberal or how conservative you are. Instead, it finds out if you are liberal and conservative, and to what degree your political views follow party line. For example, I agree with every typical Democratic or liberal position, but that doesn't make me far left. Instead, they should have included question about welfare, universal healthcare, and religion in public schools. That would have seperated the leaning ideologues from the hardcore believers.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Economic Diversity at Colleges

In today's New York Times, there's an article about efforts by other colleges to address economic diversity. The article focuses on Abraham Jack, a junior at Amherst College, who comes from a low-income family in Miami.

Student Gov't Hazing

This month's Dartmouth Review has an article on the history of Green Key, and notes that back in the day, members of the newly elected student government would run across the Green and be pelted by food and vegetables. We should absolutely bring that back.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sexual Assault Training for Pledges

Today, The Dartmouth reported that the IFC will require a mandatory two-hour sexual assault awareness and training session for fraternity pledges next fall. The program was created as a joint effort between the IFC, Sexual Assault Peer Advisors, Mentors Against Violence, and the Student Assembly. The sessions will be conducted in each fraternity, and will be tailored individually for each house based on imput from each house's leaders.

I think that this is good. I'm glad that it was not a mandate from the administration, but rather came from students and the IFC leadership. There were also rumors previously that pledges would be required to undergo full SAPA training, which I think would be excessive. As a recent pledge myself, I'm sure that there will be a lot of complaining about having to do this, but sexual assault is a really important problem at Dartmouth, and I think that the potential difference that this program can make is defintely worth those two hours.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Let Students Vote

In today's The Dartmouth, Luis-Alejandro Dinnella-Borrego ‘07 calls on the Board of Trustees to expand voting priviledges to current students during trustee elections. I absolutely agree. Just like alumni, we have a vested interest in the outcome of trustee elections, only its impact on us is much more powerful and immediate. Allowing students to vote would probably have little effect on the final count, but would empower students to play a role in deciding the course of the college. As pre-adults, we were disenfrancised for so long - why must we be so again?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jerusalem on Wikipedia

"Jerusalem" is the featured article today on Wikipedia. It's interesting how an article on a controversial subject (Israel/Palestinian conflict, role as Israel's capital), can become so stable and well-written that it is featured as one of the best articles in Wikipedia.

Weiner mocks the "Republic Party"

This is old, but it's the first time I've seen it.

Last February, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York), the great up-and-coming legislator from Brooklyn and Queens, mocked the Republican habit of referring to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Party" by repeatedly referring to the GOP as the "Republic Party" on the floor of Congress.

Rep. Weiner, who was once Jon Stewart's roommate, finished second in the 2005 NYC mayoral primary and is considered a frontrunner for mayor in 2009.

Wright in the New York Times

Today, the New York Times profiled President Wright's outreach to injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. He has made nine visits to the Bethesda and Walter Reed Medical Centers, and started a college counseling program for wounded veterans, raising over $300,000.

DFP Ends Polarization by Attacking Greek System

This month's issue of the Dartmouth Free Press loudly urges students to "tell President Wright you want an administrator to oversee your social life." Wow.

In his editorial, editor-in-chief Travis Mush*tt says he wants to get "past the polarization," but then proceeds to devoting an entire issue of his paper to attacking fraternities from every possible angle.

According to the DFP, fraternities are seedy, disgusting, crude, strange, pointless, and unpleasant. On the back page, there are fake pro/con articles, with "Jaded '07 Guy" writing:
Fuck group-think.
Fuck male dominated social scenes.
Fuck wasting time.
"Naive '10 Girl" chimes in:
I met this super hot Chi Gam brother who taught me how to play pong... Pretty soon, I was having trouble standing up and I noticed all my friends were gone... I didn't think he liked me, but after game four, we made out for hours!... He never confirmed my friend request, but I heard that upperclassmen never even use Facebook anyway.
When I first saw the latter piece, I thought it came straight from the Dartmouth Review. Not only is it blatently stereotypical, but it also portrays "Naive '10 Girl" as having deserved being taken advantage of.

At least back in the day, the DFP ran articles supporting both sides. How exactly is this moving past the polarization?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


In a rather brilliant and hilarious move, the Dartmouth Review printed a spam email as a letter to the editor. Word to the wise, don't write to the Review unless you're ready to have your letter printed. I doubt that Jake Baron's letter was more than an enquiring blitz. A while ago, the Review printed an infamous rant from a young, brash Connor Sheph*rd '07, entitled "Whitey Can't Relate to Black People." Sheph*rd, who mused that the letter would certainly not be published, must have been shocked to find it in the paper.

Hey, Must Be the Money

Now that even The Dartmouth editorial board is obsessed with where Stephen Smith got his money, I thought that I would name the likely suspects:

a) James Wright
b) Nelson Rockefeller
c) Stephen Colbert
d) The brothers of Sigma Nu
e) Joe Malchow's corporate empire
f) The Dartmouth Free Press

Loyal Opposition?

On the Student Assemblog, SA's quasi-official blog, Nathan Bruschi '10 shares his plan to create a devil's advocate in the Assembly, where somebody would be designated to argue against legislation. Bruschi's proposal was drafted after a conversation with Travis Green, the incoming student body president. I like that Bruschi and Green are thinking outside the box, but I don't think it's a good idea. Student Assembly isn't a debaters' club. I like when bills are debated on the floor – it's important to give them scrutiny – but opposition should be real, not some act. A combative Assembly is not just "drama," it's good for democracy – creating a marketplace of ideas. But fake opposition is fake opposition; it rings false and is insincere. Not every piece of legislation needs to be debated. Sometimes it's just important to get things done.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What's with the colors?

Because this blog is explicitly supposed to be non-boring, the colors are going to change about once a week.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Alumni Association Elections

The winners of the Alumni Assocation elections were announced at their annual meeting yesterday. William Hutchinson '76 was elected president, defeating Dean Spatz '66. I'm disappointed to note that Noah Riner '06, last year's SA president, lost in his bid for a seat on the executive committee. Noah, an undeniably good guy and open-minded leader, would have done a great job.

Personal Democracy Forum

On Friday morning, I attended the annual conference of the Personal Democracy Forum, held at Pace University in Manhattan. The conference explored the evolving relationship between technology and politics. The morning began with an interesting address by Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law Professor who is the chair of the Creative Commons project. Lessig argued that copyright law should be enforced "when it makes sense," and that there should be a balance between enforcement and flexibility in this digital age.

This was followed by a "keynote conversation" between Thomas Friedman of The New York Times and Eric Schmidt, the Chairman and CEO of Google. With Schmidt fielding questions from Friedman, the exchange focused on how Google is "flattening the world," to use Friedman's terminology. They noted that Google has revolutionized access to people's personal histories, a liability for both politicians and common folk alike. Both Friedman and Schmidt noted that they done things in their youth that were best forgotten, and questioned whether they would survive the scrunity of growing up in the 21st century. The conversation turned to the role of Google and the internet in modern politics, and Friedman wondered aloud whether George W. Bush would have been elected president if YouTube and modern Google had been around in 2000. They also discussed a facinating case last year, where heading into legislative elections, people in Bahrain began emailing each other links to Google Earth showing the excess luxury of Bahrain's royal palaces - filled with expensive cars, boats, etc. The government proceeded to block access to Google Earth, which caused a major uproar far more damaging than the initial emailing. Overall, it was a very interesting morning with some great speakers.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Road Trip for Green Key

I'm off this term, interning for the New York City Council, and I drove up to Dartmouth this weekend for Green Key. Definitely worth it, once again another amazing weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Call for Change

This election wasn't really about Stephen Smith or Sandy Alderson. It was about James Wright. If Wright ignores today's call for change, he will dig himself into an inescapable hole. The alumni clearly want him to change course - he needs to. Until he responds, petition candidates are going to continue winning trustee elections.

There was nothing explicitly conservative about Smith's platform - it was just anti-Wright. I've always felt that trying to view Dartmouth politics along liberal/conservative terms is a mistake. Consider the proposed alumni constitution. In the end it got deflated into a liberal/conservative dichotomy, but at the beginning it was publicly opposed by Andrew Seal, the editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Free Press, and Adam Patinkin, president of the New Hampshire College Democrats. It's always easy to view things as being partisan, but that's often a mistake. There's nothing conservative about being pro-Greek or being in favor of COS reform, and there's nothing liberal about supporting an Indian mascot-free campus.

I don't want a liberal president and I don't want a conservative president. All I want is a good president. The college is best run on an even keel, and if Jim Wright ignores this vote of no confidence, he puts at risk the ideological stability of Dartmouth leadership. I like President Wright and I want him to continue leading Dartmouth for many years to come. But he must actively respond to the criticisms brought up in this election, not only for the sake of his adminstration, but because some of the criticisms have actually been on target.

I've always had mixed feelings when it comes to the Wright adminstration, and I think that most Dartmouth students and alumni feel this way. It's tough for me to have unwaivering faith in James Wright when the Student Life Initiative is only in the recent past. Now the adminstration says they support the Greek system, and their "Ask Dartmouth" feature says they were trying to "bolster" the Greek system. What's the truth? Because of the SLI, the Wright adminstration will always have an asterisk by its name. But like many students, I also believe that James Wright is a good man, and a good leader, who honestly cares about Dartmouth and its students without some special ideological agenda. And that's critically important.

This election wasn't another victory in some conservative revolution. I refuse to believe that 55% of alumni want a radical return to the past. Instead, this is another warning to the administration, perhaps the strongest yet. Those voters have lost faith in the direction of the college and want a trustee who will question the adminstration rather than giving them free rein.

Other coverage:
Joe Malchow at Dartblog
Ned Kenney at DartWire
A. S. Erickson at Dartlog
Dartmouth Press Release

Stephen Smith Elected Trustee

Stephen Smith '88 was elected to the Board of Trustees today, receiving the support of 55% of voting alumni. The election was marked by a record turnout of 28% of alumni, and Smith recieved a higher percentage of votes than any of the other three petition candidates sitting currently on the board. More to come later.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Waiting for Results

After 45 days, the polls for the trustee election have closed. According to Dartblog, the results should be coming out tomorrow.

This is a very significant election. It will be interesting to see whether the success streak of petition candidate continues. But it is also interesting that the stated platforms of the leading candidates, Stephen Smith and Sandy Alderson, are very similar. Each of them approaches COS, Free Speech, and College vs. University with similar stances, only Alderson is much more restrained. The most notable aspect of this matchup are the weaknesses of the candidates - Smith's disconnection from campus and his hyperbole, and Alderson's unwaivering and unquestioning praise for James Wright.

New Dean of Admissions

Maria Laskaris '84, the current Director of Admissions, was appointed Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid today, according to a Dartmouth press release. She has been working in the Admissions Office since 1987.

Not so secret?

Kevin Hudak '07 wrote an interesting opinion column in today's The Dartmouth about the role of secret societies at Dartmouth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Today the Student Governance Task Force released their report to campus. I thought their findings were more or less on target, but I wish that they were more radical in their aims. Some of the suggestions are similar to my campaign proposals during my run last week for VP, most notably the call for a "Governance Council". Here are some thoughts:

- I like the "Governance Council" idea, but I wish that it had some true authority over member organizations. In particular, I think that my proposal for flexible Student Activity Fee distribution (i.e. distribute some of the money as the year goes on) was quite strong, and would have increased the efficacy of student government.

- I support the proposal to consolidate SA committees. The Student Life, Student Organizations, and Alumni Affairs committees are definitely weaklings compared to Academic Affairs and Student Services. I've served on most of them and there is definitely a difference in workload.

- The proposal to eliminate the Communications Committee really confuses me. One of the biggest complaints about Student Assembly in this election season was its lack of communication with campus. I really think that the committee can be much more than simply making posters, instead looking for ways to truly connect SA with the rest of Dartmouth. Kapil Kale was the head of the Communications Committee before serving on this Task Force; in his absence the committee has been basically abolished. I know that Kapil was really enthusiastic about the committee when the year started, and its surprising that he leaves so pessimistic about its potential.

- As far as I understand, COSO is chaired by Eric Ramsey, the Associate Director of Collis. If the Governance Council is implemented as proposed, then an adminstrator would be leading the financial wing of the overall student government every spring, which strikes me as strange.

- It's really too bad that the task force didn't propose completely overhauling the structure of student goverment organizations. Most students have no faith in the system. Why not try something new, something very different? I do believe that this proposed changes will be beneficial, but they won't fix any of the fundamental problems. Despite the risks of anarchy, I wholeheartedly believe that Shpeen-led revolution would have been far more effective.

Also, check out a DartWire blog posting from Laura Little and Adi Sivaraman, two of the task force members.

Another Apology

I thought that Dean Lord's sarcastic "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" blitz earlier today was a bit ridiculous, but I am so tired of people feeling forced to apologize or to clarify what they say. Here's what he wrote in a follow-up blitz:
The goal of the e-mail I sent earlier was to generate publicity and increase attendance at our campus climate luncheons. In addition, The Office of the Vice-President for Institutional Diversity values the hard work that many members of this community have devoted to raising awareness about issues of diversity.
It wasn't a true apology of course, but everyone got the message. I disagree with Stephen Smith about the state of free speech at Dartmouth, but this certainly looks like evidence of a chilling effect. Just say what you want to say.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Student Governance Task Force

Tomorrow, the Student Governance Task Force is presenting their findings to the Student Assembly.

Possible outcomes:
a) Apocalypse
b) Many things will change
c) Some things will change
d) Nothing will change

In all seriousness, the structure of student government at Dartmouth really does need major reform. But I fear that instituting change will be very difficult, not because of a lack of desire on the part of Dartmouth's student leaders, but because no one has the authority to compel overarching reform - not Student Assembly, not the UFC, not even the adminstration.

Okay, now what?

Welcome to Super Dartmouth, a new blog with a pretty mediocre name.

A lot of stuff happens at Dartmouth. This blog will try to follow it and offer some insight, while trying hard not taking itself too seriously.

I guess this is my post-election vanity project. Stay tuned for more, and I apologize in advance for all that follows.