The Review in Review

One of our notable issues from the past year

One of our notable issues from the past year

Editor’s Note: Without a doubt, it has been a banner year for The Dartmouth Review. As Volume 34 draws to a close, we thought it timely to review and reflect upon our work since Spring 2014. Here are the highlights:

Spring 2014

The beginning of Spring term was rocked by the Freedom Budget protests and the occupation of President Phil Hanlon’s office. On the ground and in the room as the events of April 1 transpired, The Review provided comprehensive and timely coverage of the protests online. After addressing the substance of the proposals in the previous volume (“The Freedom Budget: Then and Now”), The Review took aim what we believed to be a severe breech of decorum by the Freedom Budget protestors. We articulated what we believed to be the viewpoint of the majority of campus: it is unacceptable to agitate for change through illegal occupations while attempting to hold the administration hostage. Unfortunately, our appeal for a forceful response to the overnight sit-in—including disciplinary action for those who violated the code of conduct—went unheard as Dean Johnson capitulated and granted protesters an audience with senior administrators with no significant repercussions.

Soon after the Freedom Budget protests, we launched our new website, which will serve as The Review’s online platform for some time to come. The new site, built on WordPress, superseded the outdated blogging platform previously used and features superior organization, flexibility, and aesthetics. Activity on The Review’s blog, Dartlog, greatly increased as a result. Digital archives and back content from set pieces are now well maintained while full issues are regularly published online after print publication.

Not long after the Freedom Budget protests, the campus was beset by another controversy in the Phiesta debacle. A worthy fundraiser for cardiac research was cancelled because of the protestations of one individual about “cultural appropriation.” We demonstrated the illogic and absurdity of this oversensitivity, and Editor-in-Chief Nicholas P. Desatnick appeared on Fox News to explain the controversy and our stance on the issue to a national audience.

For our commencement issue, The Review pertinently addressed the exorbitant (and rising) cost of a Dartmouth education. We identified the rapid proliferation of non-faculty staff as the primary culprit for the “super-inflationary tuition increases” that President Hanlon has promised to fight. Furthermore, we illuminated the massive amount of waste in the college bureaucracy, pointing out the numerous bloated and nonessential departments in the bowels of Parkhurst that could certainly be streamlined. Other sources of inefficiency we identified include the Dartmouth Dining Services monopoly, which relies on exorbitantly priced union labor, and wasteful capital projects such as the $41 million renovation of the Hanover Inn.

Although tuition figures for the upcoming academic year have not been released, it seems that the administration has not made any significant moves to bend the cost curve downward and bring the cost of a Dartmouth education to a more reasonable level. As with national politics, there has been much discussion of fiscal conservatism but very little disciplined practice in reality. In fact, with expensive new initiatives such as faculty diversity, enforcement of a hard alcohol ban, and a new residential house system, costs could very well continue their current death spiral. And we still have no ideas what community directors do all day.

During the spring, The Review also published a wealth of content not related to our thematic issues. We interviewed Dartmouth Change, a group working to combat sexual assault, Alex Mooney, who was then a candidate for Congress in West Virginia, and Phil Klay ’05, the author of Redeployment. Our writers attended and reported on various events, including the Dartmouth Emergency Medical Services (EMS) conference and the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, which was hosted by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United. In addition, we covered talks by Madeline Albright, David Dollar, and Charles Palmer. Our comprehensive coverage also addressed topics as diverse as the history of Native Americans at Dartmouth, the rise of the computer science department, Dean Johnson’s legacy and tenure, efforts to ban the term illegal immigrant, microaggressions, faculty recruitment, and sexual assault.

The one regret we have for Spring term is that we, like much of campus, failed to anticipate the significance of the Moving Dartmouth Forward Steering Committee. If we had understood the instrumental role of the committee in shaping the College’s future, we would have more comprehensively addressed the topics of the committee’s investigation. Nevertheless, we formulated long form commentary on many of the same topics, including changes to the housing system, kegs versus beer cans, and the allegedly prevalent phenomena of exclusivity.

Fall 2014

After the successful spring term and the cancellation of the summer issue, the staff of The Review returned to campus with a revamped freshman issue that contained an updated version of our perennial best professors listing. After the release of Andrew Lohse’s Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy, we published a review demonstrating the author’s lack of credibility and maturity. We also reviewed William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep, a controversial book addressing the state of American higher education.

Of course, we covered the longtime tradition of Homecoming. With our new website design, we were able to dedicate a section to our best Homecoming content from years past. And this year, we were lucky enough to interview a number of individuals who had touched the fire. Fall 2014 also began our expanded coverage of sports, especially football, which was particularly well received by alumni.

A term at Dartmouth would not be complete without some type of controversy. In the fall, the Dartmouth community faced the release of the Disorientation Guide, a incendiary pamphlet created by our esteemed colleagues at The Dartmouth Radical and a new entity known as the Action Collective. The publication featured such distinguished articles as “F*** Your White Tears.” Four of our writers formulated two reasoned responses, criticizing the identity politics as well as the out-of-touch and nearly delusional perspective espoused within this noxious guide.

The work of the Moving Dartmouth Forward steering committee moved into the limelight, and another major controversy arose when The Daily Dartmouth published a front page editorial calling for the abolition of the Greek system over Homecoming weekend. Previously, The Daily D had revealed that it was publishing a “Greek issue” while in internal discussions with The Review about the possibility of collaborating on such an issue. Disappointed with the deception of The Daily D and the improper context of the Verbum Ultimum’s publication, we exposed the internal politicking of the paper that led to the controversial editorial being published despite the disapproval of many senior staff members.

And once again, The Review mounted a response reflective of the majority opinion of the student body, articulating the reasons for preserving the Greek system in a memorable issue titled “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?” In particular, we countered arguments suggesting that the Greek system is inherently exclusive and suggested that the Greek system could serve as an institutional vehicle for much needed reforms regarding issues such as sexual assault. We also focused on the overly aggressive tactics of Safety and Security, as well as reflections from freshmen on the six-week Greek life ban. Over the course of two issues, a diversity of writers were able to provide a vigorous response to incessant calls for Greek life abolition and mounted an effective defense of such an essential social institution. Bearing in mind the numerous controversies that have afflicted Dartmouth as of late, we laid out a detailed timeline of scandals starting with Andrew Lohse’s first missive about hazing.

Furthermore, we published popular and well-received profiles of six Greek organizations (Kappa Delta Epsilon, Phi Delta Alpha, Delta Delta Delta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and The Tabard), focusing on the positive and often overlooked aspects of fraternities and sororities. Fall 2014 also featured the delightful Chiliad, a satirical, Dartmouth-based adaptation of Homer’s Iliad. Other highlights include interviews with Inter-Fraternity Council President Wilson Chockley, Student Assembly President Casey Dennis, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rubens. We were prescient when we anticipated a hard alcohol ban and raised serious objections to a blanket ban without any serious concessions. Yet unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in persuading the administration to adopt a more reasoned policy that would materially address binge drinking and reduce risk.

Furthermore, building upon the success of our debate between Bill Ayers and Dinesh D’Souza, we hosted a panel on free market solutions to climate change featuring Charlie Wheelan, Bob Inglis, and Anant Sundaram. The event was well attended by community members, and we hope to continue hosting such events in the future.

Winter 2015

The Review began Winter 2015 on a strong note with our annual book review issue. We reviewed books from notable authors such as Ben Carson and Dinesh D’Souza ’83 while addressing about topics as diverse as mortality, the Rolling Stones, Maine Governor Paul LePage, and Mark Steyn. Other books that we reviewed include Sharyl Atkinson’s Stonewalled, Robert David Booth’s State Department Counterintelligence, and Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators.

Believing that the administration had neglected the College’s core mission of undergraduate education while dedicating an inordinate amount of time to addressing alleged social ills, we published an issue calling for a renewed academic focus. Thus, we were pleasantly surprised when President Hanlon addressed the academics of the College in his Moving Dartmouth Forward speech. It remains to be seen whether Hanlon is doing anything more than provide lip service, but we remain optimistic. Our commentary on the College’s academics examined the Clickergate debacle, the success of the computer science department, and faculty hiring policies while touching upon institutional polices that have detracted from the undergraduate experience, such as overbearing fees.

Of course, the most disruptive and controversial moves this term came from the administration, with the release of the long-awaited Moving Dartmouth Forward package of reforms. We rapidly responded with original reporting and our initial thoughts while we prepared a more comprehensive consideration of Hanlon’s initiatives. Our comprehensive coverage of Moving Dartmouth Forward includes a critique of the reasoning behind the Steering Committee’s report, a discussion of Hanlon’s academic plans, commentary on efforts to combat sexual assault, an analysis of Moving Dartmouth Forward’s impact on Greek life, and a telling interview with Frank Cunningham, a member of the steering committee.

For Spring 2015, we hope to continue and expand upon the investigative reporting and engaging commentary that has become a signature of The Review. Leadership of The Review will pass to incoming Editor-in-Chief Mene O. Ukueberuwa and President Brandon G. Gill, and we look forward to seeing what they will accomplish.