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Touch the Bonfire If You Can

The administration has consulted the Pentagon in an effort to establish a secure perimeter around the Homecoming bonfire this year. It will take serious resolve and a combined arms strategy for any freshmen to touch the fiery pyre.

Traditionally there are no more than lines in the grass and perhaps a snow fence to delineate go/no go areas around the towering inferno: one to hold back the crowd and one to rein in the circling ‘shmen.

Bonfire Barriers.jpg

However the Class of 2020 showed such initiative and courage last year in rushing en masse to touch the fire that unprecedented steps have been taken to make sure that the special snowflakes of the Class of 2021 won’t melt. From an Alumni Relations press release:

This year’s bonfire, constructed by the Class of 2021, will include additional fencing to help ensure the safety of everyone on the Green.

Dartblog has learned that the administration will have three barriers in place to prevent displays of class spirit:

  • An outer barrier snowfence to restrain the crowd;
  • A middle barrier of water-filled, plastic bollards to hold in the running freshmen;
  • A final chain-link fence between the bollards and the fire.

Just what this all will cost is anyone’s guess, but if the 2021’s are not to go down in history as the worst class ever, a little planning will be in order. Are they up to the task?

Addendum: Recall that campus Safety & Security is only a private guard service. They cannot manhandle students in any way, as can sworn officers of the law. So let’s make sure that there are no incidences of assault and battery on the Green this year.

Addendum: Oh, brother. The D should insist on fresher, more supple expressions of students grievances that this doctrinaire rant encouraging the 2021’s to boycott the bonfire:

As the ’21s and the rest of the student body prepare for the tradition of running around the bonfire, we should take a step back and reflect on how students’ feelings of home have been affected by Dartmouth’s other traditions, including its legacy of racism, sexism, white supremacy and other forms of institutional violence against marginalized groups. Faculty of color at Dartmouth have been systematically driven out by institutional racism, especially within the tenure process. When white supremacist groups rioted on a college campus in Charlottesville, Dartmouth released absolutely no statements denouncing white supremacy or supporting our students of color. Many students incorrectly believe that the most egregious injustices are only committed by those in white Ku Klux Klan hoods, but our administration’s complacency within oppressive systems insidiously fuels the very structures that perpetrate this violence…

Participating in the tradition of Homecoming, one that celebrates Dartmouth’s legacy of colonialism, actively supports the administration’s violent negligence of the most vulnerable of our peers. We must not forget that we are celebrating Homecoming on stolen Abenaki land, a fact that the College continues to ignore while the administration claims this land as our home. For the administration, the encouragement of alumni participation in Homecoming traditions has never been a purely nostalgic act but rather a way to solicit donations. When the college fails to support all of its students, especially those whose lives are threatened by Trump’s actions, it is all the more obscene to watch them profit from our presence here. When students actively disengage from these traditions, we disrupt the administration’s tactics of monetizing our participation. We take a stand against the privileged complacency of alumni and fellow students who blindly celebrate school pride while ignoring the harm this institution has committed and continues to perpetuate. Homecoming is an opportunity for us, current students, to express our disapproval for the administration’s inaction. First-years and other students, in an act of conscious protest, should therefore support our undocumented and other marginalized students by collectively rejecting the bonfire tradition. This Friday, refuse to run around the bonfire. For once, we should let the old traditions fail.

The writer, Jessica Cantos, is a senior.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in with a comment on Jessica Cantos ‘81’s piece:

So many things wrong with Cantos’ piece, but one of my biggest pet peeves is this idea of “stolen” land. Throughout history all land is “stolen” (I recently saw a Facebook post that said, “How can anyone be illegal on stolen land?”). Not sure when the whole idea of the noble savage took shape, but the Indians were just as guilty as any other civilization in terms of such atrocities as war, slavery, and, yes, “land stealing.” One only has to read Empire of the Summer Moon about the Comanche tribe.

Eventually someone is going to “steal” our land, too. I, for one, hope it’s aliens because we are doomed if we continue down the path we are on…


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