A Final Word to Dickinson College

Sarah Manderbach '22, Opinion Editor

It’s hard to think that in a short few weeks I will be graduating from Dickinson with my bachelor’s. I’ve been joking with my friends that I don’t want anyone to mention the inevitable reality that finals are a week away and graduation two weeks after. A part of me wants to desperately stay here and savor the countless friendships and memories I have made along the way, for they have really shaped me into who I am today. I will always be forever grateful to Dickinson for being able to provide a space for these experiences. 

However, a part of me also wants to leave not just because I have a great future ahead of me that I paved myself. A part of it also falls onto the college as a whole, and how my time has naturally, COVID allowing, come to an end. 

I’ve been quite vocal within my last two years as the opinion editor, covering everything from parties during the pandemic to the atrocities of the current dining situation, so I don’t feel the need to really address those situations here as they are available for your reading pleasure. That doesn’t mean I won’t ignore them as they do play a significant portion into why I am glad I am leaving Dickinson College. 

First, a brief summary about the school’s current dining situation for those who have not read my articles. Dickinson College lacks the ability to efficiently feed its students. With a insufficient amount of places to acquire food without hefty wait times, the absence of proper options for those with dietary restrictions, and don’t even get me started on absolutely no food options on a Sunday with the food trucks gone, the school has driven a good portion of its students close to food insecurity.

Next, I personally feel that the administration has let us down when it comes to COVID policies. After the massive surge of COVID cases in early March, they chose to shut down classes but not in person dining? We could have easily resorted to grab and go meals for that week, but nope! Classes were shut down even though everyone was required at the time to wear masks. Furthermore, the decision to remove masks felt hastily done in a scramble to make the campus presentable during the school’s busiest time of the month in Admissions. 

I’ve never felt more stressed and scared about my own health on campus. Yes, I’m tired of the masks and most times I don’t feel like I should care anymore. Since the mask mandate has been lifted I’ve been identified as a close contact twice on top of other countless scares within friend groups. It’s terrifying, and I’m severely hoping that cases stay extremely low because I will not be having my graduation online. Also, what happened to 10% random tests for students? Those disappeared without a trace since President John E. Jones had received some backlash from lowering the 20% random testing percentage to 10%. Seems a bit more than just a coincidence to me.

To the members of the administration as well as those in College Advancement, I implore you to listen to your students. I can’t tell you how many students I have talked to that wished that the college heard their voice and were able to meet their concerns with active policies and adjustments to our way of life. This includes Title IX, the current food situation, the removal of the Quarry as a beloved dining space on campus, as well as other things. This is our home and we want to feel as safe and included as possible on campus. That cannot be achieved if the administration does not listen to our voices.

The same can be said for the Office of College Advancement. I have worked there for all four years of my time at Dickinson, from Phonathon to updating alumni records. I love everyone who works in the department and I am extremely grateful for the experiences I have been offered and the connections I have made along the way. I just implore the department to take student input into consideration more than ever before. Senior class gift rates to the college have declined rapidly within the last decade, even more so with the pandemic impacting several families. This is mostly in response to how the college has handled things over the pandemic both with classes as well as other policies.

How do you fix this going forward? Make it aware to students that they can give to the academic departments and extracurriculars that shaped their time here at Dickinson instead of directly to the Dickinson Fund for financial aid and scholarships. I know more than anyone that the Dickinson Fund is important for a lot of different students over the years, but when students feel like the administration has failed them, they find more support in the departments that give them the education that they need to succeed in life. 

My final word is to the Dickinsonian editorial board. We have been through a tough two years, with the pandemic bringing us to the verge of extinction. As the opinion editor, I feel the need to speak on what I have been seeing as well, and I personally do think that if things do not change for the better, the Dickinsonian may cease to exist. Push back for weekly publications and print papers. Without it, the Dickinson community will lose sight of who we are and what we do. We will fade into the distance until soon the community will no longer acknowledge us. 

I came into the Dickinsonian with a pre-orientation my first year at Dickinson, and I wish I could go back to those glory days. I used to collect print editions for my parents and I would love delivering them to a variety of different buildings on campus, even to my professors. Now, our online presence has diminished and no one talks about the paper anymore. 

I urge the future Dickinsonian editorial staff to push for the paper! Fight for this historical paper and keep it alive. Get us back in print and get us noticed. The purpose of the media is to raise hell. So go raise some hell. 

Thank you for an amazing four years.