Your Turn

Readers write, react, and respond. (November/December 2023)

Love Is Blind
Thank you for highlighting “66 New Reasons to Love Dartmouth” [September/October]. I really enjoyed learning many new things about my alma mater. However, I would put No. 8 (“One Less Splash for Everyone”) in the negative column. Eliminating the swimming requirement was a terrible decision. Each year we hear about too many people dying because they didn’t know how to swim. Although I understand how the swimming requirement may have a disparate impact on certain ethnic and socioeconomic groups, a major reason why they don’t arrive on campus knowing how to swim is because they did not have access to lessons or could not afford them when growing up. This is all the more reason to prevent the disparate impact of drowning on those same groups. Of the many requirements to graduate from Dartmouth, swimming was perhaps one of the few that could one day save a student’s own life or someone else’s. 

DOUGLAS CHIA ’93
Princeton, New Jersey

 

I was disappointed to see that DAM considers the elimination of the swim test a reason to love Dartmouth. Of all skills students can learn at Dartmouth, swimming is probably one of the few that could save a life (your own or someone else’s). Coddling those who don’t know how to swim narrows or even removes future opportunities and experiences for them, which is the opposite of what Dartmouth as an institution stands for.

KATHRYN E. ARION ’11
Bethesda, Maryland

 

I emphatically disagree with “One Less Splash for Everyone.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a public health issue that can be prevented. To state the test is “unfair to the increasing number of students who arrive with limited swimming skills” misses the point. It is far easier for these individuals to learn to swim while they are students, with time and facilities available, than after they have left college. Would the faculty who supported elimination of the swim test agree an essay test is unfair to students who arrive with limited writing skills?

VALERIE ARMENTO ’73
San Mateo, California

 

I cannot think of a more welcoming group than the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC), which allows all students to share the joys of nature. So I was dismayed to read about the formation of the People of Color Outdoors Club, No. 38 of “66 New Reasons to Love Dartmouth.” Isn’t the purpose of a diverse campus to allow students of all backgrounds to experience other cultures within the world that we share? How can a segregated DOC be a good thing?

MITCHELL ARION ’81
Whitefield, New Hampshire

 

The existence and “mission” of the People of Color Outdoors Club leave me perplexed and dismayed. I can think of no common interest more conducive to inclusion and transcendent of social differentiation than a love of the outdoors.

I know that times have changed. And I acknowledge that a new student’s wish for empathetic companionship when venturing into the New Hampshire outdoors is readily understandable and not a matter of ill will. Nevertheless, when your subject article tenders the club’s skin-color exclusiveness as a “Reason to Love Dartmouth,” I cannot find it so.

 Peter Jones ’65
Dana Point, California

 

I was struck by the People of Color Outdoors Club. I always thought the DOC was a great way for students from all walks of life, of all colors and sexes, to get to know each other and, of course, the great outdoors. At which point does diversity become antithetical to multiculturalism? Instead of a unified student body, one can easily envision an environment where students confine themselves to their chosen cultural bubbles, eschewing those in other bubbles. Is this a good recipe for success once one leaves Dartmouth and is out in the big wide world?

VLADIMIR SVESKO ’69 
Dolores, Colorado

 

I was enjoying “66 New Reasons to Love Dartmouth” until I reached No. 64, “No Proof Required.” I understand why Dartmouth yielded to pressure to stop requiring documentation that students, faculty, and staff had been vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccines saved millions of lives around the world and would have saved many more had it not been for the insidious misinformation campaign against them. I love Dartmouth even without a mandate for students, faculty, and staff to remain current with their Covid vaccines—but I dare say I would have loved Dartmouth even more if it had taken the road less traveled by and kept the vaccine mandate in place.

ROBIN SHAFFERT ’82
Washington, D.C.

 

Major Bummer
Like Daniel Lin ’23, the student quoted in “The College Has No Asian American Studies Program. Why?” [July/August], I bootstrapped an Asian American studies program by writing papers and developing a thesis project around the subject for my major. Many of my peers quietly did the same in their respective departments. Our experiences with our advisors varied. At best, professors were sympathetic and did their best to advise us on an area that was outside their expertise. At worst, my peers recalled cold, distant relationships with advisors who dismissed their research ideas. In either case, students found that the best resources were from outside the College rather than within. This is perhaps the greatest loss for Dartmouth in falling behind other universities in Asian American studies.

GAVIN HUANG ’14
Hong Kong

 

Walk On
I enjoyed the recent Appalachian Trail article [“Take a Hike!” July/August]. Before my senior year classes in the fall of 1972, I set out from the Green with my friend and classmate, Jeff Merritt, with a plan to hike from Hanover to Pinkham Notch to cover most of the AT in New Hampshire. We set out with new orange Camp Trails packs, new boots, very heavy equipment (an axe, some glass jars of food, blue jeans, etc.), and, of course, no training. We made it (barely) over Moosilauke, down to the Lost River area, gave up, and hitched home. Foot blisters did us in. Fifty years later, I hike as much as time allows, and I have done 90 percent of the AT in New Hampshire and plan to finish the last bits (one being from the Green down to the bridge to Vermont). Today’s equipment and clothing make hiking so much better. It is very hard to believe what we chose to use in the 1970s. The AT running through Hanover got me started on a life of hiking, for which I am very thankful. 

DAVE BROWN ’73
Rye Beach, New Hampshire

Portfolio

Alumni Books
New titles from Dartmouth writers (November/December 2023)
Fresh Takes
Blogger Ray Padgett ’09 covers the covers.
The Secret Life of the Brain

Michael Gazzaniga ’61 divulges the inner workings of the human mind. 

Gail Koziara Boudreaux ’82
A CEO on the state of the nation’s healthcare

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