No Senior Symposium?

The Daily Dartmouth noted today plans to curtail the increasingly mediocre Senior Symposium program. I think the decline of this program, and the fact that the College seeks to end it, indicates the great desire on the part of the administration to transform Dartmouth into something more akin to a Grafton County Community College.

The decline of the Senior Symposium can be attributed to a number of factors. First, the members of the Senior Class in charge of selecting the program tend to be more interested in consensus, or at least politically correct topics. Therefore, rather than inviting a prominent speaker who may be challenging to some, they seek to showcase the College’s diversity or concern for issues like the environment. Second, the members of this committee tend to lack any vision of the wider role and any imagination of the potential Dartmouth students and alumni have in shaping such events. It is imperative that the College direct its resources to exposing the student body to ideas and issues beyond trendy identity politics, academic fads, and the like. The article noted that “famous” people such as Cornell West and Sheryl Crow have come to the College under other auspices. However, I question whether Kenneth Montgomery really intended for his endowment to sponsor pop musicians such as Ms. Crow.

The origins of the Senior Symposium are to be found in the policy of President Dickey of requiring seniors to attend a series of lectures on world events. However, like the recent Commencement speakers, Dartmouth has done well in squandering its stature and prestige and insuring the emerging classes of Dartmouth men and women will be ill-equipped for the challenges ahead.