Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
This is an archived post. Please click here to see the latest entries.
A Critique of Theme Houses
The Valley News has printed an editorial that is critical of the College’s potpourri of housing options: the mix of theme houses about everything from entrepreneurship to Harry Potter. We haven’t looked at this subject for a while, but the Valley News’ objections are spot on:
… [the] new housing arrangements at Dartmouth College give pause. While well meaning and seemingly liberal-minded, some innovative “living learning communities” might actually promote insularity and social stratification. That would be an unintended but not entirely unexpected consequence of allowing students to live together according to shared interests.
“Living learning” communities and affinity groups are common on U.S. campuses, so Dartmouth isn’t breaking new ground. And there are good arguments for allowing some students — minorities and gays, in particular — to congregate in campus housing where they feel safe, secure and understood by peers.
But there are better arguments for mixing up students of different races, religions, sexual orientations and cultural perspectives. Colleges, particularly prestigious ones such as Dartmouth, like to tout their diversity. Why, then, would they want to encourage students to cluster together according to narrow interests such as veganism or Harry Potterism? College residential life ought to introduce the vegan to the carnivore, the Harry Potter fan to the Plato enthusiast, the gay to the straight, and the black to the white. Simple, easy, painless? Not necessarily. But self-segregation won’t broaden the mind or help prepare young people for real life, where one doesn’t necessarily encounter affinity groups down the street, in the gym, or on the job.
There’s evidence that those who attend college tend to be more understanding of opposing political and religious views, as well as more open-minded about other races and religions, than those who don’t attend. That’s not only because of what’s taught in the classroom but because of the campus experience.
What a shame that Phil can’t recall the democratic and diverse dorms that were an outstanding Dartmouth feature right up until the mid-80’s — as I wrote in a column in The D a decade ago. Students’ life in a “home dorm” should begin freshman year — there should be no segregrated, ‘shmen-only dorms — and they should be able to return to that all-four-classes dorm on a priority basis throughout their four years in Hanover. That successful housing system was an old tradition that should not have failed. Don’t you remember, Phil?
Addendum: Music Professor Jon Appleton writes in:
You are right about “affinity” living spaces. My first year at Reed College my two roommates could not have been more different. Walter wrote his thesis on Machiavelli and later joined the CIA. Ray studied complex mathematics and was son of a farmer. He followed in his father’s footsteps. I learned a lot from both of them. How boring it would have been if I had been in a music house.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
Subscribe by Email
This website reflects the personal opinions of its authors. Any e-mails received may be published along with the full name of the sender. If you wish otherwise, please say so.
All content appearing at Dartblog.com should be presumed copyright 2004-2018 its respective bylined author unless otherwise noted or unless linked to original source.