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Forum, Feb. 9: Dartmouth is committed to being inclusive


Friday, February 08, 2019
Dartmouth College is committed to being inclusive

This is in reference to Jim Kenyon’s column on Dartmouth College student Staci Mannella (“Fighting for a fair shot: Legally blind Dartmouth student sues for an equal chance to succeed in class,” Feb. 3).

Dartmouth is committed to providing every student with full, equal and integrated access to all academic courses, campus programs, activities and services, and the opportunities they offer. The college seeks to foster an environment that is seamlessly inclusive of people with disabilities.

Staci Mannella pointed out where we were falling short of that ideal, and for that we are grateful. As a result, we entered into an agreement with Staci and her family that reflects our mutual commitment to meaningful change.

The first step is to undertake an assessment of our current programs and practices to embrace strengths, identify areas for improvement and plan a course of action. The college is in the process of hiring an external consultant to help us with this important work. Dartmouth has also formed a Student Instructional Accessibility Working Group, chaired by professor Lisa Baldez, to consider how to enhance existing and needed services across all schools at Dartmouth.

In particular, the group will make recommendations to me to improve the operation of a dedicated assessment center for students who require extra time and support during tests, and to strengthen communications with faculty about instructional accessibility and student accommodations. The working group has been asked to update the Faculty Resource Guide for Including Students with Disabilities, which addresses a range of accessibility issues that faculty are likely to encounter among their students.

Every student enrolled at Dartmouth deserves the opportunity to access all of Dartmouth. We welcome the chance to strengthen that commitment.

JOSEPH J. HELBLE

Norwich

The writer is provost of Dartmouth College.

A big step toward sustainability goals

Sustainable Hanover and the Sierra Club Upper Valley Group celebrate our valued partner Dartmouth College for its decision to transition from its current heating system, which burns No. 6 fuel oil using steam distribution, to a new plant fueled by sustainably sourced biomass using a 20 percent more efficient hot water system. This decision is as significant for Dartmouth’s goal of reaching 50 percent renewable energy by 2025 as it is for the entire Hanover community’s goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

We know that biomass projects can be sustainable, but that many are not. We applaud Dartmouth’s leadership in its adherence to the highest sustainability standards. For biomass, this would include standards for harvesting, land management and transport, in addition to using the most efficient and clean-combustion technologies.

We are heartened by Dartmouth’s intention to scan the horizon continuously for increasingly better technologies and practices compatible with the town of Hanover’s commitment to be 100 percent renewable in all energy sectors — electricity, heating, cooling and transportation — by 2050.

YOLANDA BAUMGARTNER

Hanover

JUDI COLLA

Hanover

Yolanda Baumgartner is the co-chair of the Sustainable Hanover Committee. Judi Colla is the lead volunteer for the Ready for 100 Campaign, Sierra Club Upper Valley Group.

Do you detect a troubling trend?

Do you speak up when news items don’t feel right? We all know the two-year history of President Donald Trump defending autocrats. We know about their secret discussions. We know about sanctions against Russia that have been mysteriously reversed. Now we see that all of this behavior is being reversed: breaking the nuclear treaty with Russia and Iran, for instance, and opposing the autocrat Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

Another trend is the constant attempt to create fear and division in our society: the fake news about the real sources of the majority of drugs and criminals coming across the border (ports of entry), the division caused by white supremacists and the distrust caused by attacking our own government officials. Now, as Trump declares our security officials don’t know what they are talking about, we see both Iran and Russia purportedly confirming this by making further nuclear threats to create further fear.

Lastly, there is a trend by this administration to throw our money to the wind by declaring government shutdowns, by demanding billions of dollars to build a wall, and by creating countless investigations and lawsuits. We have thrown away enough to have fixed our health care system. We are throwing away assets that should have been used to stabilize areas such as Central America, where Russia has created chaos and caused mass refugee situations. We are increasing our national debt by trillions of dollars.

Something doesn’t smell right. The worst fear is fear itself. I hope my fellow Americans stand steady and realize the real political and governmental changes we need to make to secure our country. I further hope those large corporations that supported this current crisis realize the errors of their ways in terms of the detrimental effect they have had on the well-being of our country — the country that afforded them their great wealth.

SYLVIA J. HEATH

Hartland Four Corners

Viral phenomenon of misinformation

The letter “Diseases Crossing Southern Border” (Jan. 31) warrants comments regarding sources and quality of information.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has a respectable veneer based on congressional testimony regarding immigration policy. However, the principals of FAIR have a long and documented history of advocating for white supremacy and eugenics policies. Consequently, the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified FAIR as a hate group. The editorial in Investor’s Business Daily on Oct. 17, 2014, which purported a link between the outbreak of the enterovirus D68 in 2014 and the influx of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico, offered no evidence of that. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated there was no connection, explaining the data did not support such a conclusion. That did not stop Investor’s Business Daily from citing a quote from Breitbart News, a known trafficker in hatred and misinformation, from concluding that the CDC could not be trusted.

We do agree that zika, dengue and chikungunya are coming north from South and Central America. The foreign actors carrying these are mosquitoes, not people. The CDC reports that the tropical mosquitoes that transmit these viruses are expanding their ranges into the U.S., likely due to climate change. Most immigrants with tuberculosis arrive mostly from countries in the Eastern, not the Western Hemisphere, and there is a decline of these cases.

These are good reasons to have a strong medical and public health infrastructure for screenings and medical coverage for immigrants as well as citizens, since prompt preventive treatment reduces the risk of transmission to U.S. citizens. It is also true that folks who live in developing countries may not have access to vaccinations for common, potentially serious diseases like measles and chickenpox. This is a good reason to assure vaccinations for immigrants and continue to vaccinate our own children. Likewise, as to “Ebola, hepatitis A, strep, pneumonia and swine flu and 40 other diseases” posing a public health risk from our southern border, this illustrates the dangerous nature of a viral phenomenon of misinformation carrying fear, sometimes known as “fake news.”

KENNETH DOLKART

Grantham

PAUL ETKIND

Grantham

Kenneth Dolkart is a physician. Paul Etkind holds master’s and doctoral degrees in public health.