Wednesday, June 12, 2013

a few suggestions

Make the Seuss Room actually Seuss-esque. Right now it's downright disappointingly dull.

Expand financial aid to cover PE classes, extra course fees (for Studio Art materials, labs, and other classes), and text books. These are all required aspects of academics and should be considered part of tuition. 

Require all students to work at least 10 hours per week. Some students have a far greater academic and social advantage because they need not work. Other students are at a disadvantage because they must work. Part-time campus jobs build responsibility and discipline, offer additional learning experiences, and provide opportunities to work with Dartmouth faculty and administrators. Let's level the playing field a little, at least time-wise, and teach students greater responsibility and discipline in the process. 

Do not make more than 15 hours of work-study per week part of any student's financial aid package. While some students will undoubtedly still choose to work more than this, they should not be institutionally required to do so as it may come at a loss to their academics. 

Reinstate family housing options for undergraduate students. As is, undergraduates with families are forced to live off-campus, sometimes quite far away. 

Make diversity awareness education a standard part of the first-year curriculum. Sex ed, too. Lots of people come here without much/any experience with either.

Also include a course on Dartmouth history in the first-year curriculum. It's important for people to understand the context of the institution/community if they are to find their place within it and make it their own.

If we're going to keep using the term "first-year," then make it second-year, third-year, and fourth-year, too. 

Invest more resources in recruiting and retaining top-notch mental health providers. It's institutionally embarrassing that it can take weeks to get a non-emergency appointment with a counselor. 

Stop requiring majors. They can be useful for suggested courses of study but they can also be very limiting. 

Institute residential colleges so that students have a greater sense of community and continuity.

Assign a 24/7-accessible space on campus to student artistic expression. It could be a mural wall or something more creative. Just keep it uncensored and all-hours accessible. This campus needs a communal art outlet. 

Do away with grades. At this level, they just inspire greater stress in students. A pass/fail system coupled with more meaningful individualized feedback would better serve the student body. 

Encourage professors to allow students to demonstrate mastery of course material in more interdisciplinary and individualized ways than papers and exams. While useful as standardized assessment tools, papers and exams do little to prepare students to tackle real-world problems; at best they prepare students for the world of academia, which most of us don’t intend to remain a part of after graduation. Project classes are both more engaging and more applicable to life post-Dartmouth. 

Do away with the exorbitant fee for transferring academic credits from another institution. This is an unnecessary barrier to academic exploration and it favors students from more affluent backgrounds.

Require professors and administrators to have a meal plan with DDS to encourage them to engage more casually with their students. Perhaps this would also lead to greater overall changes in the meal plan options. 

Speaking of which: ideal meal plan situation: No student is required to have a meal plan with DDS; the available options include termly packages cheaper than $875; students may choose to put whatever amount of money they wish into their dining account; all meal plans are all DBA (with no value lost for people who still choose to eat at foco); DBA rolls over from term to term and year to year. As is, DDS is an overpriced monopoly that all students are required to support. 

Re-evaluate the DSGHP exemption requirements. Many students come here with health insurance perfectly suited for their needs but are required to pay/take out loans for the expensive DSGHP because their plans are found to be inadequate. 

Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for students found responsible for sexual assault. Expel them. 

Create more gender-neutral restrooms, at least one per building. The long-term goal should be that all restrooms are gender-neutral. 

Make all ORL residential spaces gender-neutral. 

Implement a more sensible room draw system. Surely there are automated options on the market that could optimize happiness for all of campus. MIT has a beautiful system. <>

Make Banner course reviews publicly available. Seriously, why hasn't this been done yet? 

Either start seriously enforcing the drinking age (stringently punishing those who violate it and derecognizing any groups and organizations that facilitate it) or stop with the theatrics of doing so. S&S walk-throughs are a joke. The new UGA program is detrimental to the residential dynamic. Take a hard stance one way or the other, preferably in favor of non-enforcement. 

Withdraw institutional support from Greek-letter organizations, or at least single-sex ones. As is, and as has been, they perpetuate unhealthy social dynamics, binge drinking, and antiquated ideas of gender identity and interactivity. Letting them be independent would also allow them greater freedoms with regard to new member initiation, pledge terms, and whatnot. See, everyone wins.

Withdraw institutional support from senior societies. They perpetuate a toxic culture of elitism and exclusivity.

Allow people of all gender identities to attend the Proud to Be a Woman dinner. Yes, that includes men. Allyship, no? 

Place readily distinguishable communal bicycles around campus. Maybe fewer privately owned bicycles would be stolen. 

Do away with the D-Plan. It affords some very exciting academic, internship, transfer, &c. opportunities, but at a huge cost to the cohesiveness and continuity of our community/communities. Not to mention how difficult it is to master a subject in only ten weeks. Students would be far better served academically if allowed to study things more deeply and thoroughly. We need time to process and reflect. We don’t have that right now. It’s unhealthy. The benefits of the D Plan are far outweighed by the costs. 

If Collis can have compostable to-go containers and silverware, then so can and should every DDS establishment. 

Stop selling bottled water in campus dining facilities. It may be lucrative, but it comes at a terrific environmental cost. 

Make composting available in all College-owned  buildings.

Make this a non-smoking campus, at least in public spaces. 

Denounce rules imposed by sorority nationals which prohibit chapters from hosting parties, keeping alcohol on the premises, and other such antiquated and misogynistic things. 

Do away with the minimum family contribution. Some families just can’t pay it.

Create first-year trips that don’t actually involve the outdoors all that much for students who don’t want and/or are unable to participate in the current offerings. Neither the outdoors nor the standard discomforts (not showering, strenuous activity, trail food, mortal peril) are necessary for class bonding and expanded options would surely attract more incoming students.

Implement a system through which individuals can easily create and subscribe/unsubscribe from various campus listservs. Campus-Events is at once too broad and too exclusive (individuals and academic departments may not use it, for instance). 

New mascot. It’s time we had one. 

Fix the bells. Seriously they’ve been in a constant state of broken for years.


  1. Anonymous14.6.13

    A lot of this is right on, including withdrawing institutional support for fraternities and abolishing the "D plan."

    As for requiring everyone to work 10/hours a week to level the playing the field, and inculcate certain values, what happens after everyone leaves Dartmouth? The playing field snaps back into a virtually vertical position . . .

    --Chris Schons

  2. Anonymous14.6.13

    In fact, I think it's legitimate to ask whether the B.A. degree itself isn't just an extravagant anachronism.

    --Chris Schons

  3. Interesting suggestions. I agree with a number of them (especially mental health, denouncing national sorority rules, composting, and disagree with others (no grades, no majors - that's what Brown is for - and residential colleges, both because Dartmouth is not phyiscally set up for it and because I never want to see a Dartmouth admissions video that is ANYTHING like "That's Why I Chose Yale.")

    Question on the Greek system stuff: If the college were to "withdraw institutional support," would members of houses be able to list those houses as their place of residence while taking classes, or would it be like derecognized Zete, where students living there had to have on-campus housing as well? Because that would limit membership - or at least residence - to students who could afford both College rent and house rent, which I think would tilt the system even more towards the privileged. Just a thought.

    1. Currently, students are allowed to live off-campus with little to no inquiry into their situation and no additional or hidden fees. I'm not familiar with the Zete situation you reference, but I can't imagine how it came about. Currently, they don't even check to ensure that we're living _anywhere_, let alone differentiate living situations. Off-campus is off-campus, no matter where it is. I would expect students who elected Greek housing to be subject to exactly the same treatment as other off-campus students.

      Many students choose to live off-campus because of the opportunity to save money on housing and the meal plan--off-campus students are allowed to elect the smallest plan available under the current dining system.

      Students who receive financial aid are able to receive disbursements of any aid surplus and to use it toward rent, food, etc.

  4. Lots of nice ideas, some more feasible than others. I really do wish they'd just fix the bells. They hurt me.

  5. Anonymous15.6.13

    Require professors and administrators to have a meal plan with DDS to encourage them to engage more casually with their students. Perhaps this would also lead to greater overall changes in the meal plan options.

    Love it.