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Forum, June 25: Dartmouth’s Brand and Women; History for an Expo?; Wondering About the Fountains; Snakes Alive

A Dartmouth Safe for Women

To the Editor:

The history of coeducation at Dartmouth is fraught with challenges and misgivings. More than 40 years after the decision to go coed was implemented, the college continues to struggle with making the campus safe and hospitable for women. That’s why I worry that readers of your recent editorial and feature on Dartmouth’s “brand” might conclude that what the college is undergoing at present is simply an exercise in marketing.

If Dartmouth’s brand remains attractive and strong, then it will have successfully dealt with its issues of extreme misbehavior, particularly those of sexual violence. Unfortunately, it’s much more than that. Professor Charles Wheelan recently challenged a student debate on Dartmouth’s Greek system to think of the social scene they would like in 30 years and then determine what steps it would take to get there. I think he has estimated the necessary time frame for real social change just about right. This is an effort that will require significant time, resources and commitment.

Dartmouth will have lots of public relations opportunities in the next six months to convey that it is taking aggressive action. In July, it will host a summit on sexual assault. This fall, the steering committee on Moving Dartmouth Forward will issue preliminary and final recommendations to President Hanlon. In November, the Board of Trustees will determine which recommendations to pursue, presumably with a call to action for alumni to support their alma mater through a large fundraising effort.

The Valley News and other media will no doubt report on all of these events. What I hope it will also do is ask Dartmouth, on an annual basis for as long as it takes, to report back to the greater Dartmouth community on its progress in combating these problems. Ask for the data that will enable your readers to decide for themselves if real cultural change is being accomplished. Women have made education at Dartmouth a richer experience. It’s way past time for the college to make the campus a better place for them. Four decades of Dartmouth alumnae, not to mention current and prospective students, deserve no less.

Stanley Colla

Hanover

It Could Be History for the Expo

To the Editor:

Concluding another wonderful Vermont History Expo at the Tunbridge World’s Fair grounds (June 21–22), some Vermonters stood and sang together:

“These green hills and silver waters

Are my home — they belong to me,

And to all her sons and daughters,

May they be strong and forever free.”

(from These Green Mountains, the Vermont state song)

Where else would we gather to do this?

Word was that this labor of love for Vermont may be ending for lack of funding. No! A Vermont expo could group displays, presentations, discussions and grassroots conversations about aspects of Vermont that are important to Vermonters, such as community, economy, environment and heritage — then, now and always.

Moving it to the Champlain Valley Exposition grounds in Essex Junction would be too far away for too many of us.

Howard Fairman

Vernon, Vt.

Wondering About the Fountain

To the Editor:

Throughout my life I have enjoyed the fountains of downtown Lebanon: the umbrella girl, the cherub fountain in Colburn Park, the waterfall fountain on High Street near Kindlenook store and the big octogonal fountain on the pedestrian mall.

In my childhood, the mall had a fountain with lights that shined at night. I loved its dancing plumes of water; they were so beautiful.

In later years, due to its spraying wildly in strong winds, the fountain was turned into a nice flower bed. I have seen crocuses, sunflowers and other blossoms blooming there, a site for butterflies and bees.

Until now. Recently while I was going to the library, I saw the old basin completely empty; no flowers, no dirt, nothing. It may be wishful thinking, but I thought maybe the city was going to turn the basin into a fountain again. However, I don’t know for sure. Maybe the basin is to be demolished, so a smaller flower bed can be installed, or the place is to be paved over. What’s happening? This Lebanon citizen wants to know.

Amelia Warfield

Lebanon

Snakes Alive: They Are No Threat

To the Editor:

I want to thank Jordan Levin for his thoughtful letter published in the Valley News regarding fear of snakes (“Fear of Snakes Is Groundless,” June 22). He is entirely correct in encouraging people to not be afraid of them. When I was in biology class in high school, our teacher took a small garter snake, wrapped around her wrist, around the room for us to touch and especially to caress its underbelly, which puts it in a “happy state” of relaxation. For the rest of my long life I have not been afraid of the non-poisonous snakes of Vermont. In fact, since my husband was not enamored of them, I “rescued” many garter snakes, taking them off to far woodland pastures to live. Many of his family were equally afraid of snakes, and never understood why I was not afraid.

Thank you again, Mr. Levin, for educating the public on living in harmony with the snakes of our region. They do a lot of good in keeping mice and other vermin under control.

Many years ago I did see a rattlesnake in a pine woods in my town of Weathersfield. It felt the vibrations of me walking on the ground and, tail high, rattled at me. I tossed pine cones at it trying to get it to “strike,” but my aim was poor. We each went our own way,

Lorraine Zigman

Perkinsville