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Forum, July 30: Dartmouth students’ return a cause for deep concern

Published: 7/29/2020 10:00:16 PM
Modified: 7/29/2020 10:00:12 PM
Dartmouth students’ return a cause for deep concern

Initially I had thought to write this to Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon, but now I am writing in gratitude to Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin for her opinion piece in the July 24 issue of The Dartmouth on the irresponsible behavior of Dartmouth students living in Hanover this summer.

Our home is flanked by three rental properties, all occupied by undergraduates, so I have a front-row view of students’ inability to comply with distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students greet each other with embraces and loud in-your-face exclamations, they travel and recreate in herds, and they play beer pong, sometimes for hours at a time, in dense and increasingly inebriated and boisterous groups. I have yet to see one wear a mask.

This has me deeply concerned about the impact on Hanover of 4,400 undergraduates returning from all over the world this September.

In her piece, Griffin cites precedents at other colleges, where “super-spreader” fraternity parties have led to widespread infections. Because college students are in an age category that often carries the disease without symptoms, they feel invulnerable and do not consider the impact they may have on the more at-risk people they interact with, including older area residents when we shop. Will local people in vulnerable categories have to tighten restrictions on our already limited shelter-at-home lives to stay safe when undergraduates return this fall?

Griffin asks the summer students to “smarten up,” warning that their behavior may well influence the ability of any Dartmouth students who wish to return this fall.

I hope that President Hanlon is watching, as he makes decisions about how or whether to open Dartmouth to on-campus learning this fall. If it takes three visits from the Hanover police to get our undergraduate neighbors to observe the town’s curfew for noise, how does President Hanlon propose to control the behavior of 4,400 undergraduates?



Gov. Phil Scott deserves nomination and reelection

Vermont is in the middle of one of the largest crises it has ever faced. We are extremely fortunate to have a governor who has met this challenge in the best possible manner. Gov. Phil Scott’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a model for others.

His weekly press briefings with the state’s health officer, Dr. Mark Levine, provide clear, up-to-date, factual information. Other state personnel are on hand to answer questions in which they can provide expertise. Everybody is treated with respect, and if there is a question they can not immediately answer, they say so and promise to get the answer.

Gov. Scott is negotiating a very difficult situation extremely well — balancing caution with the need to have some economic activity. The proof of how well he is doing is shown by our best-in-the-nation status in these difficult times.

Competence matters. Gov. Phil Scott, by his actions during the COVID-19 crisis, has made the case for his continued leadership for another two years and deserves the nomination of his party in the primary and election in the fall.


South Strafford

Sen. Tim Ashe is ready to be Vt.’s lieutenant governor

Tim Ashe and I share a love for the Red Sox, but that’s not why I support him for Vermont lieutenant governor. I’d support him even if he were a Yankee fan. Here’s why.

As the Vermont Senate’s leader, Ashe performed as the best captain a team could have. When things go well, he steps back, letting Senate team members enjoy the limelight. In bumpier patches, he steps up to take the hits, freeing senators to get back to productive work.

He and I have worked closely together for a decade: Renewable energy, minimum wage, expanded health coverage, public education, broadband expansion — we have partnered on all of these. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s shown the leadership we’re going to need in our next lieutenant governor: inclusive, good communication, steady, steady, steady.

And finally, it says a lot to me that Tim Ashe frequently visited Orange County, my county, long before running for this statewide office. Not for political meetings, but to meet with mental health workers, teachers and hospital employees to see how we could best support the people on the ground. And he delivered.

He is ready for this.


Williamstown, Vt.

The writer represents the Orange District in the Vermont Senate.

Voter suppression alive, well even in New Hampshire

Time is running out. Fewer than the recommended 45 days now remain for New Hampshire voters to apply for an absentee ballot application before the Sept. 8 primary.

That same timeline is rapidly approaching for the submission of an absentee ballot application for the general election, scheduled for Nov. 3.

Concern for COVID-19 infection is now legally established as a reason for wanting to vote by mail in New Hampshire, and the new legislation-approved absentee ballot application form includes a specific check box for COVID-19.

Unfortunately, voter suppression is alive and well across the country, and even in New Hampshire. President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general has issued new regulations to mail carriers that will slow down the delivery of mail. The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office has bungled the rollout of the new application form and the ballot itself, while being slow to provide guidance to local town and city clerks.

This kind of obstructionism makes it paramount that we all make an extra effort to obtain an absentee ballot and that we mail the ballot back to our town or city clerk in a timely manner.

Go to the secretary of state’s website ( and click on the “Voting During COVID-19 State of Emergency” link on that page. Even more easily, go to the Open Democracy website ( to obtain your absentee ballot request form — now. COVID-19 isn’t going away — even in New Hampshire.


West Lebanon

Rep. Linda Tanner is a tireless, experienced leader

I am grateful for New Hampshire Sullivan 9 district state Rep. Linda Tanner, who is an experienced, tireless and compassionate leader. She goes out of her way to be available and to listen carefully to concerns. Tanner moves those concerns into action.

As the clerk of the Education Committee, Tanner is a powerful voice for our district and our priorities. She has proven herself very responsive to constituent needs, co-sponsoring multiple bills and shepherding them through the House to passage. Significant among them were bills to prevent discrimination in our schools and to study the impact of opioid use and domestic violence on children’s mental health.

She received the Barbara French Advocacy award from the New Hampshire School Nurses’ Association for her work in reinstating a school nurse coordinator at the state Department of Education and for speaking on the value of school nurses in today’s schools.

Now, more than ever, we need representatives like Linda Tanner in the Statehouse.



A forgotten call to action

Our great President John F. Kennedy said it well: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Is this a forgotten concept?



Big hand for headline writers

Kudos to Valley News headline writers, whose clever and catchy wording elicits a double take and a smile to start the morning.

Most recently, “Hoping for a change of course,” over a July 24 article about Dartmouth’s closing of the Hanover Country Club. Some earlier examples: “Airport plans take off.” “Gardening takes root in Vt. during pandemic.” “Water, sewer plans down the drain.” “D-H reports healthy finances.” “Pipeline plan out of gas.” “Tour de France applies brakes.” “Hotel services already turned down.” “N.H. test results get low grade.” “Recycling company scraps plans.” And many more, including my personal favorite, over a story about salary increases at a local business: “Dough rising at King Arthur.”



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