Dartmouth has a problem.
There, I said it. If this concession is all that you were waiting for, if this makes you happy on its own, then you are in luck. You can go home now. Your work is done.
But I am not going home, because I am not satisfied with mere statements. The real problem with Dartmouth is that we have a culture of inactivity and, worse, whining. My mother did not tolerate whining in her house, and I share as much disdain when it occurs in my community.
I am done with protests, vigils, sound bites and Facebook reposts. We all click “share,” agree/newsworthy, nod and snap. We loudly agree that something needs to change, then we go home, hang up our caring hats, find three for pong and become part of that same culture of irresponsibility. After all, we have been working hard. We have said our bit, and now it is somebody else’s problem.
But lip service is not enough. I am done talking about what Dartmouth needs to do as a community — I am talking about what we as individuals continuously fail to do. We, as incredibly intelligent and capable Ivy League students, need to recognize our own power to effect change. We need to apply our considerable brainpower and resources to asking for actual solutions. I would have liked to see the participants in the Dimensions protest hold signs that said “Increase discussion about LGBTQ issues in freshman floor meetings.” Or the participants in the protest against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yell, “We demand the U.S. push for elections to create a recombined secular Palestine and that all Palestinians currently in refugee camps be resettled into the rest of the country and be compensated!” Or the Panhellenic Council uphold its policy to boycott houses at which members get sexually assaulted. The conversation needs to shift toward real, achievable options. We are better than empty statements. We do not need catchy slogans — we need a plan.
Most of all, we need to stop blaming the administration, the Greek system, Bored at Baker, the rush process and every other Dartmouth institution for our own lack of motivation to make a change in our community. While there certainly are some things that the administration could do, including renewing Green Team funding and implementing a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault, we have to recognize that we cannot wait for someone else to solve our problems for us. An incredible number of students who I have talked to about sexual assault have never even heard of the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault, let alone read its recommendations. We can write great research papers, but apparently doing the research necessary to turn the sentiments that we express on our Facebook pages into reality is beyond us.
The push toward change at Dartmouth suffers from the same weakness as the Occupy movement did. If we do not have a coherent list of demands, we too will crumble. We need to approach our own beliefs with the scientific method: identify the problem, put forth a hypothesis and create a method to put our ideas into action. Dartmouth has no shortage of resources, from the SPCSA to Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinators Rebekah Carrow and Amanda Childress to Safety and Security officer Rebel Roberts, all of whom assist survivors of sexual assault. Panhell, the Interfraternity Council and the Greek Leadership Council are all potential resources for issues with the Greek community, and even the Dean of the College’s office is (unbelievably, to some) stocked with people who care intensely about the Dartmouth community and would love to discuss how to turn concepts into plans and plans into actions.
Vigils or Facebook posts are not inherently bad. Increasing visibility is fine, and expressing solidarity with victims is laudable. But we owe it to ourselves, our community and even prospective students not to stop there. All we have to do is take some of our Facebook rage, a pinch of blitz-writing creativity and 15 minutes of brainstorming to find a real way to fix these problems without waiting for Mama Administration to come along and make everything better. I will not and cannot take you seriously unless you are offering a viable solution. Anything short of that is just whining.
Blaine Ponto '14 is a guest columnist.
Dartmouth has a problem.