February 28, 2010
February 5, 2010
What a week it has been.
The Thayer school forced its students to [briefly] evacuate the building due to an unfortunate accident. Hanover Police announce that they’re (re?)-launching a war on underage drinking at the College. The Winter Carnival committee told us they’ve learned from the catastrophic Moosilauke Lodge-turned-dirty-snow-pile travesty of last year’s wintertide festivities.
Oh, and then there’s the candlelight vigil on the Green, where concerned students enjoin the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to visit President Kim and the Trustees ahead of their meeting to discuss fiduciary strategy.
What’s next? My money’s on The Dartmouth publishing that Barry Scherr is actually John Edwards’s lovechild.
It’s unfair, really. Why does all of the craziness have to unfold after I leave Hanover? All I get to watch is this freak snow storm plough DC in ways that could make Ron Jeremy blush.
In all seriousness – what is happening to Hanover? Did our swine flu fevers addle us so? Is this all a jealous response to the South getting more snow-related news coverage than New England? (Because to be honest, you can have the snow. I ran toward the Mason-Dixon to avoid another gross winter, thank you very much.)
In any normal week, Hanover Police would win the “WTF, mate?” award for most ridiculous, ludicrous or otherwise idiotic idea. Scrapping a plan to engage the Greek system on campus to find shared solutions to shared problems – namely destructive behavior resulting from boozy over-consumption – HPo decided to announce a new plan. Now they’re going to launch “sting operations” at Dartmouth fraternities.
Brilliant, Barney Fife! Send agents posing as underage students into frat parties to bust the evildoing brothers. Nevermind that a stringent Dartmouth ID check at the door will allow frats to hedge against risk. Oh, and this one little problem: Students are gonna drink anyway. Except now, they’ll binge before going to that brotastic party.
But cooperating to accomplish mutual goals is so ‘90s, anyway. This is the nation that invades sovereign states in the face of international disapproval. Less talk, more action. What could possibly go wrong?
(And to Hanover Police Chief Giaccone, who told the students who didn’t care for his for-the-greater-good despotism to “go to another Ivy League school,” here’s a clue (because you obviously haven’t one): Dartmouth is the main reason you get a big department, neat cars and cool toys. Chug on that, dude.)
Sadly, the most recent issue born as a yoke upon the shoulders of many students is even more shortsighted and lamentably irresponsible. The Students Stand with Staff crowd has juiced up the Hope Express of 2008 with enough amphetamine to make Lenny Bruce uncomfortable. Wishful thinking is fine, but it has to be tempered with truth telling from time to time.
Dartmouth must deal with its $100 million structural deficit. No way around it. Spending the endowment is not an option. And, despite my best efforts, I don’t think Obama’s gonna send any TARP funds our way.
Layoffs will happen. Nobody likes that idea, but it is an economic reality. During boom times, Dartmouth added more staff – support and administration – than it needed. I sympathize with students who want cuts to be made on the highest wages, and want the wealthiest parents to pick up more of the tab to avoid layoffs. (I worked for John Edwards in 2008, and then worked for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign effort in the fall of that year. I get the soak-the-rich argument, I do. But it just can’t work in this context.)
Cutting wages on our best talent risks losing top performers. Raising tuition for those who can afford it (which is fewer than half of our students, by the way) risks our applicant pool falling sharply. Both put us at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Raising hell to avoid any layoffs is a quixotic gesture and a terrific mistake.
Here is the program – get with it: If you want to help the staff, then do some quantitative legwork and figure out ways to minimize staffing cuts; propose realistic solutions to ensure that cuts are made across the board; and fight so that support staffers aren’t unnecessarily targeted. And, for the love of all things Big Green, don’t take compensation and benefits negotiations off the table.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I left the College on the Hill, but it also seems that much has changed. With all this craziness, it’s enough to make me wanna come back. Good thing for you I’m snowed in.
To make up the $100 million structural budget deficit through a tuition hike, Dartmouth’s 5,000 students would have to cough up an extra $20,000 per year. Are Dartmouth students and their parents willing to pay more so that Dartmouth does not have to make significant adjustments to its expenses? Do students pay Dartmouth to provide employment to the people of the Upper Valley, or do they pay Dartmouth to hire the right number of people to provide them with a first-rate educational experience?