Sam Lindsay / The Dartmouth
Many students consider the splendid isolation of Dartmouth's campus a great boon to our community. While there are certainly advantages to a location as remote as ours, there are also disadvantages, namely the bubble that surrounds campus. While it is important to acknowledge that the Dartmouth bubble exists, it is equally important to acknowledge that too many students use the bubble as an excuse to fuel their own willful ignorance of politics and current events, both national and global. It is easier to blame cluelessness on isolation than on laziness.
I have experienced firsthand a general lack of attention to current events. In classes whose subject involves dynamic events, I have been surprised when students are unaware of relevant developments in the news. Following the news not only increases the caliber of classes, it is also a prerequisite of being a good citizen. I know I am preaching to the choir readers of The Dartmouth are generally well-informed, but this is a call for our entire community to be more informed about the state of the world.
Following the news does not have to be everyone's top priority, but it is hardly too much to ask of people to get their news more often than whenever they walk into King Arthur Cafe and glance up at the two opposing television monitors. If the writers of The Mirror's "Overheards" section spent more time hovering in line at KAF, they might get the impression that more than a few students did not know that France has sent troops into Mali or that North Korea recently conducted its third nuclear test.
It is not difficult to access the news in today's day and age. There are stacks of The New York Times conscientiously placed around campus at the most convenient locations. And if paper is too clumsy, there is always the online version, not to mention the iPhone application. With everything from the free subscriptions in the Periodicals Room to National Public Radio's live-streaming website, there is no excuse to be uninformed.
While the splendid isolation of old-time Hanover found in black and white photographs has been preserved, accessing the wide world has never been easier. Dartmouth students are in a position to have their cake and eat it too the 1950s when you want it and the Internet when you do not. So why does there seem to be such apathy toward current events? The only requirements of following the news are initiative and interest. If ignorance prevails, it does so at the cost of one of those requirements.
The fact is that remaining willfully ignorant is easier than accepting responsibility. Who can blame students? Life at Dartmouth goes on and there are plenty of interesting distractions to fill free time. Like it or not, our insulated environment provides a debilitating comfort. But our community must make the effort to stay informed.
Michael Moore makes a similar point in his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" (2004). He concludes the film with a clip of former President George W. Bush fumbling over the expression, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," rhetorically asking the audience how many scandals, cover-ups and conspiracies will it take before people wake up? Evidently the problem goes deeper than just Dartmouth. The Dartmouth community is not necessarily letting the wool be pulled over its eyes, but our campus is home to some of the most sophisticated, well-educated and well-informed members of society, yet ignorance still pervades.
We need a larger wake-up call. There is no excuse for the lack of awareness of current events that many students bemoan. We can no longer blame it on the bubble; it is time to take responsibility.