Yang: Spending Wisely
Like many students, I was stunned when I heard about the College’s receipt of a record-breaking $100 million gift. It is, of course, a tremendous testament to Dartmouth’s impact on its alumni that someone would give the institution such support. However, I am disappointed by the gift’s narrow-minded focus on academic initiatives. To be fair, a college’s overarching mission is to provide its students with a quality education. But in light of the College’s recent and highly public struggles with student life issues and diversity, one might have expected that more of the gift would be allocated toward initiatives designed to improve quality of life and inclusivity at the most basic levels.

What if, instead of bolstering an already top-ranked undergraduate program, this gift had been given to increase staff at Dick’s House, hire more Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinators, provide 24/7 crisis counseling and guarantee survivor follow-through by College counselors? The College’s resources are currently stretched far too thin in these areas. Considering how much work must fall on the shoulders of the College’s two SAAP coordinators boggles the mind, and it is unconscionable that emergent care for students in need of medical assistance is too often held hostage to the irregularities of Dick’s House hours, especially on weekends and during sophomore summer. Or why not use the gift to create programs geared toward supporting diversity? While minority communities across campus hold events that celebrate their respective cultures through holidays and religious observations, it remains the case that much of Dartmouth’s diversity and cultural activities happens in isolation rather than across different segments of campus. Using part of the gift to fund a multi-use intercultural event space in a central part of campus could make a significant difference here, in the same way that the Rockefeller Center and Dickey Center are spaces for public policy-centric and international issues-related events. Such a space could serve as a site for intercultural exchange, learning and dialogue. Of course the gift can benefit our academic initiatives. New additions to the faculty through block hires could do much for the College’s intellectual life. Supporting a vibrant academic program at a college that prides itself on the best undergraduate teaching in the U.S., after all, requires substantial capital. However, as the College sorts through the reported two dozen-plus cluster proposals it has received, perhaps new hiring decisions should also be made with an eye to increasing both intellectual and cultural diversity through additions to the College’s faculty. For example, a number of programs currently subsist on a shockingly small list of faculty, and many of those professors are primarily affiliated with other, larger programs. Increasing the size of these programs through hires would bolster their stability and increase their intellectual footprint on campus. Improving advising is a step Dartmouth could take to better both the College’s academics and student life. First-year advising is lacking for Dartmouth students. Fixing the pairing process between first-years and first-year advisors would start students on the right track, and guaranteeing dedicated major advising groups within major departments would do wonders for many students’ experiences. Having alumni who are able and wiling to give generously is a gift, and the wise use of this gift is an opportunity for the College to create and bolster impactful programs that will surely enrich academic life for generations of students to come. As far as this gift is concerned, it’s too late to change the terms of its use, and it also seems unlikely that the anonymous benefactors would be amenable to doing so. However, this is an opportunity for alumni old, young and future to consider the impact that their donations have on dear old Dartmouth. Personally, I encourage alumni who give in the future to think critically about what they want their dollars to identify as top priorities in Hanover.
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