Your Turn

Readers write, react and respond. (January/February 2018)

Big Time
What attracted me to Dartmouth was its size. Not just the student-faculty ratio, but the overall size of each class and the physical size of the campus. During four years I had the ability to get to know, on at least a passing basis, the majority of my classmates. One of the arguments cited for the proposed student body expansion [“Campus,” November/December] is to increase diversity. I strongly believe that such a move would foster more homogeneity of experience. Much as in a small town, the smaller class size fosters interaction with people from all backgrounds, whereas a larger class allows subsets to form and people to naturally gravitate to their affinities.

While at a larger institution I may have ended up with a core group of friends who mirrored my background or who projected the future I wanted for myself, at Dartmouth I was exposed to, became acquainted with and grew to appreciate the perspectives of people who would otherwise have been merely faces in the crowd of a larger student body. I strongly oppose the proposed expansion on these grounds, never mind the logistical obstacles to such an implementation. 

Marc Lewinstein ’98
New York City

 

Lately the other Ivies all seem to be expanding their student bodies. Dartmouth has to keep pace, right? One idea for expansion the November/December issue mentions is housing 750 students in College Park. “Expansion” is just a ploy that really gives the administration the opportunity to turn Dartmouth into “Michigan on the Connecticut.” But this takes money, big money. Remember this is the same administration that had a 2016 operating loss of $112 million a year after posting a loss of $15.2 million. So more students equal more tuition money for more misguided ventures; expansion when there are more pressing problems to be fixed beforehand.

Here are a few things that should be tackled first: installation of a modern heating system for the campus, refurbishment of unhealthy dorms, renovation of dated classrooms, provision of adequate housing and parking for faculty and grad students, making faculty salaries competitive (here, Dartmouth doesn’t keep pace).

College Park is not the place for dorms, just tradition. So I’m going to update an ad headline that I wrote years ago addressing a similar problem—the desecration of a place held sacred. The updated version would read: “…and over here we’ll put a massive dorm complex. Of course, the Old Pine will have to go.”

Stop College Park expansion.

Dave Schaefer ’63
Concord, Massachusetts

 

Increasing enrollment will only create more distractions and instability at a time when Dartmouth is already constantly moving and changing, more crowding and overuse of already taxed facilities, destruction of more open space to house and service an increased population, and a need for increased faculty, staff and administrators.

And, of course, alumni, already solicited for funds, will be asked to foot part of the price tag for this unwise idea, both for building costs and the increased need for student financial aid.

The fact that other Ivy League schools are increasing their enrollments is irrelevant. They are not Dartmouth College. Let’s leave well enough alone and not risk ruining a good thing—if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

William K. Stableford ’69
Madison, Connecticut

 

Showstopper
I was delighted to hear from Stephen Geller ’62 regarding his performance on the balcony of Robinson Hall [“Tyrants on the Balcony,” November/December] and most engaged by this detail: “Backstage was a tiny stairwell that corkscrewed directly to the basement.” He even mentions it again: “We climbed the spiral stairwell to the second floor, backstage right, in the theater.” He does not mention the second, tiny spiral staircase that ascended from the basement backstage left. My Robinson Hall story from fall of 1957 involves it.

We were doing Macbeth. I joined the cast as future King Duncan in order to avoid a paper due in freshman English. Our last performance was our best. When our Macbeth engaged in his final battle with Macduff, Macduff’s sword really did come down on Macbeth’s scalp. Blood streaming down his face, Macbeth staggered backward into backstage left. The audience sat in stunned silence as the curtain closed.

Our stage manager ran down the backstage right staircase, crossed the basement, where “the tyrants” from the balcony changed their clothes, ran up the tiny backstage left spiral staircase and opened a wound on his head by crashing into a fire extinguisher. The extinguisher fell to the backstage floor in the semi-darkness as our stage manager fell bleeding and moaning next to our bleeding, writhing and moaning Macbeth, filling backstage left with a white foam tinged with blood.

The curtain stayed closed. When it became apparent that Malcolm was not coming out to speak of being “crowned at Scone,” the audience erupted in wild, unappeasable applause. We ignored them. The curtain stayed closed as we tended to our wounded. At last the audience filed out, thunderstruck.

The larger point is that we did not need the new theater promised to Warner Bentley, which arrived in the 1960s as the Hopkins Center, to put on great theater. Bigger is not always better.

Anthony H. Horan ’61
Delano, California

 

Corrections
In our November/December issue the entry from professor Russell Muirhead in “Subject Matter” should have read “asocial tendencies of people themselves.” In “New Energy,” the $80-million gift referenced came from Irving Oil, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation and Arthur L. Irving, his wife, Sandra, and their daughter, Sarah ’10, Tu’14. We regret the errors.

Portfolio

Alumni Books
New titles from Dartmouth writers (July/August 2019)
Justice for All
A world of equals is the goal of fundraiser Evelyn Chen ’01.
The Natural

Professor Ross Virginia is as cozy in an African desert as he is in the Antarctic—where there’s even a swatch of icy terrain named after him.

Dennis A. Dinan ’61
On editing DAM in turbulent times

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