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>  News Releases >   2007 >   September

Remarks by Student Body President Travis Green at Convocation, Sept. 25, 2007

Posted 09/25/07

Travis Green
Travis Green

Thank you President Wright for the opportunity to speak here today, and Provost Scherr for your thoughtful introduction.

Two Hundred Forty years ago, a group of people sat not far from here ready to cut a new College from the woods. To them, that College was just an idea, not the buildings you see today, not the handouts, meetings, and programs you have all attended. They had the opportunity not only to shape themselves, but also the place of learning that we call Dartmouth. Each left transformed, just like you will be on the Green four years from now.

Class of Two Thousand Eleven, it might not seem like it, but today, each of you has the same opportunity, along with a few advantages. Unlike those novices, you have two hundred forty attempts' worth of experience to draw from. Unlike those white, male, preaching New Englanders and their founding Native American counterparts, you have potential friends from all walks of life, from all ranges of experience, and from all over the world.

Here, you're freed from your past. Your roots are gone. You can choose which to grasp on to, and what new ones to lay down. You don't have to conform to what you were in high school. Jocks, nerds, goths, those segregations can disappear. You can make new friends, find new interests, reveal inner passions. Be who you want to be, while you make this College what you want it to be.

The seed of your future self lies in the little bit of the Dartmouth spirit that's already inside of you. Every time you stop on the Green to breathe that cool night air. Every time you listen to the bells toll from Baker tower. Every time you come back over the Ledyard Bridge, a little bit of that spirit comes to rest within you, slowly accumulating in your muscles and your brains 

As that spirit grows, you will begin to answer questions integral to Dartmouth's soul: Should there be a typical "Dartmouth man" and "Dartmouth woman"? Why do we have the cluster system? Does cutting-edge research enhance liberal arts teaching? Should Dartmouth value the Greek system? Does diversity matter to us? Is the D-Plan effective? Do athletics enhance the Dartmouth experience? What defines this Dartmouth? What defines your Dartmouth?

Answers won't just come from philosophical discussions in musty dorm rooms or on Dartmouth Row. They will come from each of your cumulative actions in classrooms, in basements, in the community, everywhere. You will decide whether it's acceptable for the guy next to you to hurl obscenities at your fellow students just because he's drunk. You will decide whether to hold the door open for your fellow students. You will decide whether to sit in FoCo with someone who's different from you. You will decide how this Dartmouth acts and what this Dartmouth believes.

You'll hear a lot about the answers that already exist. Just from this podium, my predecessors have tried to tell your forerunners the answers to issues ranging from sexual assault prevention to finding your inner soul. Across campus and in the media, people will try to tell you what to think, and what answers to give. I challenge you to figure out those answers for yourself. Upperclass students are here to help you carry the best of yesterday's Dartmouth with us. Alumnae and alumni bring years of experience and their own passion for this place to the table. Professors, deans, staff, and administrators bring in their own perspectives on knowledge and learning. You too bring your own ideas and the ability to enact them.

You will take us the next step closer to the spirit embodied by those efforts in the woods two hundred and forty years ago, and are going to have a great time along the way. In class, with friends, across the world, you'll have experiences you never dreamed of, and after four years, you'll be begging to come back for four more.                                  

Along the way, I challenge you to define yourself. I challenge you to define excellence. I challenge you to define Dartmouth.

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