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Another Year Without a Convocation

Members of the faculty and administrators often complain about the consumerist attitude towards education displayed by today’s students. Undergraduates seem to bring a marketplace mentality to Hanover with them, and if the College doesn’t deliver the goods, a phone call from parents or even a lawyer is not far away.

Beyond lamenting such approach, is the administration going to do anything about this development? Anything to set a different tone, to educate new students about their responsibilities as members of the Dartmouth community? Doesn’t look like it — except to host a community barbecue to begin the new academic year:

No convocation 2017.jpg

How about bringing back Convocation, where incoming freshmen can be treated to pomp and circumstance and some shock and awe about what is expected of them as they join a community of scholars (not whiners) that has existed for close to 250 years now? The massed, berobed faculty and though-provoking speeches used to do a good job in helping special snowflakes understand that Dartmouth does not exist only for their benefit:

Convocation 2005.jpg

In canceling Convocation, Phil has abdicated his responsibility to a valuable tradition and also passed over an opportunity to set his own tone at a small college. Of course, the entering class at Michigan is six times the size of the freshman class at Dartmouth, so Phil can’t be expected to comprehend how important Convocation can be at the College (though one might think he’d recall the event from his time as a student in the 1970’s). He needs to shift gears in understanding that certain things can be done in Hanover that were not possible in Ann Arbor.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

I agree strongly with your comments on the loss of Convocation. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, I arrived in Hanover in 1946 for Convocation a mere two weeks after getting out of the Navy following the war. Having grown up in Minnesota in the depths of the Great Depression, and gone directly into the service after high school in the small town of Hopkins, finding myself sitting in front of colorfully robed scholars and hearing John Sloan Dickey say, “Gentlemen, your business here is learning,” really got my attention and actually inspired me.

A middling student up until then, I graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. I have the horrible feeling that everything that made Dartmouth great for my generation is slipping away inexorably under present management. Many thanks for Dartblog.

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