Sunday, November 18, 2007

Remembrance at Dartmouth

Last Thursday, Justin Zalkin '07, a friend of mine, wrote an article remembering Ben Lolies '09, who died in a motorcycle crash while on medical leave. Justin was Ben's trip leader and in his opening sentence he sums up a wider frustration among students at the way undergraduate deaths are commemorated: "It seems to have passed nearly unnoticed around Hanover that several weeks ago Ben Lolies ‘09 died in a motorcycle accident." Over the past several months, three Dartmouth students have died, and particularly for the last two - because the first was a case that elicited national attention - the lack of any formal way to remember them has been notable. I'm not exactly sure what would be ideal, perhaps a plaque with the names of students who have died over the years while studying at Dartmouth, and I'm not sure whether it should fall to the administration to organize it, but I've heard a lot of students express their feelings that something more should be done to remember those who died, and I agree.

1 comment:

John Bruce said...

I don't mean to sound callous or unsympathetic here -- deaths change the lives of the living, and the living never really get over them. But the actuarial tables say that a certain number of people die at every age, of many causes: disease, accident, suicide. I'm sorry to see that the alumni data base doesn't include the names of my own classmates who passed away during or soon after their time in Hanover.

On the other hand, your post suggests that attending Dartmouth is, in and of itself, something heroic. Many schools have memorials, some remarkably inspiring, to students who gave their lives in wartime. This, I would suggest, is heroic and worthy of special note. No matter the stringencies that might apply to the process of getting into an Ivy school, though, or staying there, I think it's a little confusing (not to say narcissistic) to memorialize those who simply attended and happened to pass away before their time in the same way as those who lost their lives in a form of sacrifice.