As winter tightens its firm grasp onto New England, the quaint town of Hanover refuses to flinch; golden lights fill the streets, coats and scarves emerge from wardrobes, and notably, an intrepid pine finds itself most ostentatiously seated before Baker Tower, gleaming in the shadow of Dartmouth Hall as it watches the town from the Green’s center crossroads. The holidays are near, and that means the new year’s blessings are well on their way. To many readers, that may bring ruminations of midterm exams and college application deadlines, but to Dartmouth College, 2019 has an attribute of particular significance.
In 1769, Eleazar Wheelock’s mission had come to fruition; with a charter from the British Crown and principal support from the First Earl of Dartmouth, he founded a school in Hanover, initially intent upon educating Native Americans. Now, a quarter of a millennium later, the College may look a little different, but through all the changes it has sustained, it remains proudly in its seat overlooking the Connecticut River. It’s Dartmouth’s 250th anniversary, and in its time, it’s seen some radical transformations in the world around it. From the American Revolution to an attempted coup by the State of New Hampshire, the College has persisted. So, what does this all mean anyway? Why is it all significant?
Well firstly, to Dartmouth students, it means a whole new set of course offerings this year that specifically celebrate the school’s history. These include an interdepartmental course on alumnus Daniel Webster and the groundbreaking Dartmouth College v. Woodward Supreme Court case (which you might remember from APUSH), and also a freshman seminar provocatively titled Is Dartmouth a Religion? I’m curious about what that second one entails, but the College has certainly has enough songs written about it to make a fully-fledged book of hymns.
Though, there’s far more to this anniversary than some special courses. Most considerably, it brings the realization that each new student that steps onto this campus is taking part in a century’s old tradition, one that predates this nation entirely. Every ’23 – and I can’t believe that it’s soon enough for me to mention ‘24s – is joining an age-old network of prominent alumni from around the globe, and that’s not something to take lightly. Dartmouth graduates have been shaping the world since our founding, and to quote the Alma Mater in good faith, lest the old traditions fail. To all the readers out there, it’s your turn to join the tradition and make your mark on two-hundred-and-fifty years of history. I wish you all good luck, and I’ll see you on the Green!