Student Assembly Statement on Dorm Access Restriction

In response to the College’s recent announcement regarding new restrictions on student access to dorms and House Centers, Student Assembly would like to clarify its role and opinion on this policy change.

First, the College’s assertion that dorm access restrictions were requested by Student Assembly is false. Following the bias incidents that took place in Fall 2018, then SA President Monik Walters ‘19 and Vice President Nicole Knape ‘19 released a resolution calling for the College to improve its response to such actions. Included in this resolution was a clause asking the College to consider “additional security and technological measures including but not limited to technology to monitor or regulate entering and exiting dorms after an incident.” Walters and Knape then had subsequent discussions with College leadership regarding safety practices. During these discussions, the last of which occurred in February 2019, Student Assembly neither proposed nor advocated for continuous restrictions on dorm access. Other limited actions were proposed, such as temporarily restricting dorm access immediately after incidents to make campus feel safer, and increased surveillance options, such as more security cameras. Since those preliminary discussions in February, Student Assembly has not been consulted on this issue and was not made aware of these policy changes in advance.  The current administration has not been involved in conversations regarding this issue whatsoever. Nevertheless, we are committed to moving forward productively and working with the Office of Residential Life to resolve this issue.

Student Assembly did not request and does not support the permanent restrictions to dorm access announced by the College.  Such restrictions pose a threat to Dartmouth’s communal and open culture. They make forging and maintaining friendships with other students more difficult, and they increase the already worrying disparity between Houses with ‘better’ and ‘poorer’ facilities. They betray a lack of trust in the student body, and fail to address the root cause of racism that underlie the bias incidents. And most importantly, in terms of safety, these restrictions are an arbitrary and adverse development, making campus less safe and holding students less accountable for their actions. 

While the College claims that the primary reason for these changes is a necessary increase in dorm security, the changes are ineffective and counterproductive. Currently, when a student scans their ID at the door, their entrance is recorded, enabling the College to track and identify entrants. Of course, not every student who enters a dorm is recorded; sometimes students inside the dorm let their friends in; sometimes, students hold the door open for other students. The College claims that by ensuring only members of a House have card access to its dorms, dorms will be better protected from unwelcome intruders. But under the new restricted system, circumstances that allow unauthorized and uncatalogued access are still possible and are actually more likely. Students are not going to stop visiting dorms outside their House - we all have friends all over campus, and different dorms provide different amenities that all students should be able to use. Students will still be able to access any dorm they seek to enter, but instead of scanning in and having their entrance recorded, they will wait for the door to open, and then enter anonymously. Anyone wishing to enter a dorm for nefarious purposes would be able to reach their same perverse objectives under this new policy - in effect, nothing has changed from the status quo. The new policy makes campus less safe, as it reduces the information the College has about who enters a dorm, and it does not in any way prevent access to those who do not have proper ID. 

Given that the College’s security argument is unfounded, the only other reason given for this change is to “deepen our commitments to the housing system,” as it was put in an email to all UGAs. Overall, the House system has been an enriching and positive addition to student life at Dartmouth. Most of its initiatives have improved campus; this change is not one of them. Encouraging students to create bonds within their House by constructing House Centers and providing House programming are an excellent way to spur the growth of community. This change actively works against that principle. These dorm access restrictions - effectively trapping students and attempting to force social cohesion - are a step backwards. These restrictions create a forced exclusivity; fracturing campus in a ham-fisted attempt to create artificial unity. Students are not sheep, and the College is no shepherd. The House system should grow organically, not through artificial barriers. 

We are particularly disappointed in the decision to restrict access to the House Centers. The College claims their sequestration is “in line with their original purpose” (The Dartmouth, September 13, 2019). Yes, the Onion and Cube were intended to be primarily used by their respective Houses - and they are, due to their proximity to their housing clusters.  In the three years since their introduction, however, the Onion and Cube have become popular student hubs used by students from all Houses. The House Centers have made campus a better place and fostered social growth. This plan would undo much of that progress. The new policy works against the goals of the House System by unnecessarily and artificially dividing campus and separating students. 

Additionally, this restriction furthers the inequalities in House facilities. For example, North Park and South House residents, with their designated House Center as the Onion, will no longer have access to a DDS snack bar under this new system. North Park residents will no longer have access to the nearest printer in mid-Fayerweather, as their dorm lacks one. These are just two examples; there are many more.

Furthermore, the College cannot claim that these changes adequately address the underlying racial bias issues and the heinous incidents that spurred this conversation. The problem is not that campus is too open; the problem is that several students chose to showcase their bigotry and hatred. This racism that sadly lives within part of our student body will not be cured by dorm access restrictions, and any suggestion that it may is simply detracting from the root issue of campus racism.

One of the greatest attributes of Dartmouth is its serene and welcoming campus. Dorms are open to all students. The grad schools are open to undergraduates. Greek houses are open to everyone. It’s what makes Dartmouth a special place. It’s that sense of trust that lets many of us leave laptops unattended in the library. It’s that community that makes our four years here special. These changes erode those special attributes. We oppose this change because it is unnecessary and harmful. It reduces safety, fractures our social spaces, and fails to address the underlying issues, all the while inconveniencing students and diminishing Dartmouth’s special character.  In every way, these restrictions fail. We encourage the College to seek ways to make campus safer for all, and we are absolutely willing to engage with and support the creation of real solutions. We call on the College to rescind these restrictions immediately, and we implore students who feel similarly to make their opinion known to the Office of Residential Life and the wider administration. 

C3I Open Forum

Student Assembly and SPCSA co-hosted a student Open Forum to a) engage with the material published by Dartmouth’s Administration on the new C3I initiative to curb sexual violence on campus and b) make remarks about opinions regarding its layout and function. In a group of about 30 students and Assistant Dean Liz Agosto, we talked about a need for the Administration to update us and hold themselves accountable for the progress the program makes. Other student concerns included additional necessities of student feedback in the tenure process and a diversification of the tenure committees appointing new faculty. We and SPCSA typed up a meeting summary and sent it to President Hanlon, which will be discussed in February.

You can see the Open Forum Report here!

Dinner at President Hanlon's House

Student Assembly was invited to President Hanlon’s home for a reception tonight! Along with the execs and senators on Student Assembly, administrators involved in Student Affairs and Residential Life accompanied President Hanlon and his wife Gail. Among appetizers, students got to mingle and discuss projects they were working on. We were also graced by the presence of Chairman of the Board, Laural Richie, who introduced herself and spoke to her days at Dartmouth, citing it a rather rare and unique opportunity to dine at the President’s House.

Presentation of Food Insecurity Report with Dean Lively

After finalizing our Food Insecurity at Dartmouth - Fall 2018 Report, we were excited to present our findings to interim Dean Kathryn Lively. Our report included statistics captured from our survey regarding the scope of food insecurity at Dartmouth sent out in the fall. In addition, we highlighted strategies other universities use to cope with food issues with students, such as food pantries, meal/Dining Dollars sharing technologies, and food vouchers. Some of these universities included Columbia, Princeton, Brown, University of California - Los Angeles, and George Washington University.

You can access our official report here!

First Senate Meeting of 19W

To kick off the term, we started off our all-Senate meeting by introducing our new ‘22 Senators: Payton Bullock (North Park), Tanner Bielefeld Pruitt (West), Jennifer Qian (School House), Lily Simon (South House), Julian Wu (Allen House), and Maggie Johnston (East Wheelock). Moving further into the meeting, we discussed each committees new projects for the year, including positivity projects for the Health and Wellness Committee and a rental textbook system within the Student Affairs Committee. In addition, we announced a need for more open forums and discussions between us and the students about topics like C3I, mental health at Dartmouth, etc. This term we will also be working on building up a portfolio of Student Assembly’s past projects to create stronger institutional memory, we will be working on implementing a Co-op vouchers system for students needing to buy fresh produce to supplement their meal plans, and we are laying out a supplementary textbook rental system. Lastly, we are speaking with the CPD on enriching the spread of opportunities outside of the tech and finance realm.

You can reach us every week in Blobby on Wednesdays from 2:15 - 3:15 to discuss whatever it may be!! Hope to see you there!

What We're Up to Over Break

Have you followed our Instagram account? Yes, we do have an Instagram account which we will begin implementing in Winter 2019 to update the student body about what we’re working on and getting accomplished. Follow us here!

While we Executives and Senators are on break, we will be finishing our document that proposes that the Administration develop a food pantry for the undergraduate student body.

In addition, we are sending out invitations to prominent leaders and entertainers who we would like to come speak at Dartmouth during the rest of the school year.

Starting in January, we will be launching a pilot for a house library system which should include the most popular textbooks which tend to be expensive for students. You will be able to use these materials at house centers to aid your studying.

We are looking forward to two more great terms! Hope you all are enjoying your break!

Student Assembly's "WHAT HELPS YOU?" Day

One of the initiatives of the Health and Wellness Committee is to continue efforts to de-stigmatize mental health on campus. On Wednesday November 7th, Student Assembly execs and those on the Health and Wellness Committee, including Senators Lauren Huff, Riley Flewelling, Emma Chiu, Nelly Mendoza, and Will Shadek, engineered a day to spread campus awareness that everyone struggles from time to time. Centered in Collis during the afternoon, members of our team manning the table handed out stickers where students could answer the prompt: “What helps me when I struggle is ________.” We hoped that with lots of students wearing the name tags around school, conversations about mental health would arise.

The Student Wellness Center was instrumental in helping us plan the event and supplied the table with countless resource guides and stress relief materials. Other resources included came from Tucker Center and the Academic Skills Center.

Going forward, we hope to plan one large event revolving around mental health per term to keep up the hard work of crushing negative stigmas surrounding mental health.

President Hanlon Joins Our All-Senate Meeting

Sunday evenings are reserved time for all-Senate meetings to catch everyone up on projects people are personally spearheading, as the committees meet individually biweekly to stay organized and up to date. This Sunday, President Hanlon agreed to meet with us after having lunch with Monik and Nicole in ‘53 Commons Friday afternoon.

President Hanlon got to see an inside look into student concerns about food insecurity and the senators who are researching other campuses’ food pantry systems and meal swipe sharing technologies. In addition, he learned about our pilot program for a house library system for the most common textbooks to be starting in Winter 2019! Other items on the agenda: discussing a speaker series (we have 3 confirmed speakers for Winter and Spring term), work with Admissions to create a new Dartmouth virtual tour sponsored by Student Assembly, a project in partnership with Dartmouth Sustainability Office regarding recycling on campus, discussions about a new ‘Schmen Guide, our fall plans to make an annual Mental Health Awareness day sponsored by Student Assembly, and our plans to organize a Student Assembly photoshoot (PHOTOGRAPHERS NEEDED!)

Want to discuss any of these projects with us? Visit us in Office Hours Wednesdays 2:30-3:30pm in One Wheelock!

Sustainability Office & SA Discussing Food Pantry

Monik and Nicole met with the Sustainability Office’s Outreach Intern, Sophie Neuhaus ‘20, to discuss a partnership regarding the idea of implementing an all-campus food pantry system for the undergraduates. They discussed Sustainability’s in-progress project to provide students with kitchen sets to be able to rent, which should include pots, pans, and necessary cooking implements. We are hoping to pair kitchen sets with a central food pantry location.

Meeting with President Phil Hanlon

Friday, September 28th, Monik and Nicole met with President Hanlon to discuss their initiatives for the year! Topics discussed included organization of DDS, faculty training on sexual assault prevention moving forward, how the bonfire will operate this Homecoming, and looking towards 250th year celebrations for 2019. We hope to keep up constant conversations with President Hanlon in order to develop a stronger connection between the undergraduate population and the Administration.

22's Interest Meeting

Monik and Nicole met with ‘22s interested in participating in Student Assembly in One Wheelock during their weekly office hours from 2:30-3:30. Student Assembly’s goals and projects for the term were outlined to the first-years and they were given the opportunity to sign up for either committee to bring forth their own ideas to the table. Elections for ‘22s to join the Student Assembly Senate as house representatives will take place this fall.

SPCSA Partnership

Tuesday evening Student Assembly attended one of SPCSA’s (Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault) to offer their augmentation of SPCSA initiatives and Round Table events. Two members from the Health and Wellness Committee have been selected to join SPCSA in their weekly meetings to stay up to date with their initiatives as to not overlap projects. We look forward to attending SPCSA’s Round Table on Thursday, October 18th from 6:30 - 7:30pm in Rocky 101!

SA Meets with OPAL and FYSEP to Discuss Food Pantry System

Senators Sabyne Pierre ‘20 and Carolina Almonte ‘20 represented Student Assembly in a meeting this Wednesday in order to discuss the need for a campus-wide food pantry system to curb the growing problem of food insecurity on campus. All organizations recognize that some students’ needs are especially not med during interim periods. Typically, meals are served by local restaurants or students on financial aid are supplemented with bags of groceries. In addition, some meals are hosted by the house communities. DDS locations are not open during interims.

Currently, Student Assembly is partnering with the Sustainability Office to brainstorm how a food pantry system would look, and these conversations will be carried out into Fall 2018.

We Do Recycle

We Do Recycle

For the last several years, a rumor has spread around campus that questions whether Dartmouth recycles or not. After speaking with Casella (Dartmouth’s contracted recycler), President Hanlon, and the Assistant Director of Sustainability at Dartmouth, the truth has emerged - Dartmouth DOES recycle!