Many of us probably noticed the massive banners hanging from the front of Frost Library and Valentine Dining Hall last week. In prominent bold letters, they displayed the question, “When do you conform?” Ironically, the large size of the banners, their positions overlooking the campus’ main quads and their odd wording in the second person all gave them an eerily Orwellian feel, as if they seemed to be aimed at promoting the same sort of groupthink that the question was meant to address.

On Monday, Dean Larimore resigned as the College’s Dean of Students. The Student sincerely regrets his leaving. It was only a year ago, last February, that Dean Larimore was selected through an extensive search process to be the College’s new Dean of Students. Since then, he has established a genuine and meaningful relationship with the students, and many cannot help but feel that his resignation is both abrupt and perplexing.

At this point, it’s hard to defend keeping the Lord Jeff as our mascot. Lord Jeffery Amherst advocated genocide against Native Americans. By celebrating him as our mascot, we tacitly condone both the man and his actions. Not only does this conflict with the values of any modern-day liberal arts institution, our designation as the Jeffs is a cruel irony in the face of increasing pushes for more diversity and representation from Native American students.

This spring semester the College will be implementing as a trial run several changes to its party policy. Last week, Dean Larimore emailed the students regarding these policy changes, and despite its verbiage, the letter summed up an earnest effort by the administration to improve social life at the College. The events of last semester, especially those of Crossett Christmas, demonstrated the necessity of changes to the party policy; this semester will hopefully prove their efficacy.

It is unfortunate how the process of learning and the academic calendar are so out of sync. Learning is continuous and gradual, whereas academic pressure fluctuates and spikes sharply, typically in the months of December and May. Out of this dissonance, emerges the stress of finals.

As Thanksgiving break approaches, many of us are looking forward to spending the holiday with friends and family. Fortunately, those of us who can’t make it home can do the same — the College’s efforts to ensure that there will be a festive, communal vibe on campus are sure to give us all something to be thankful for, even if we can’t be with our families or friends from home.

On Sunday, we all received an email from Dean Larimore announcing the “Social Cup” initiative — yesterday, Val rolled out a set of fresh blue cups that indicate to fellow students that the user is open to sitting with people he or she does not know. The purpose of the initiative is to promote social mingling in Val and to help those who would like to meet new people express that desire in a clear yet fairly unobtrusive way. This initiative is creative and has the potential to dramatically improve our community at Amherst.

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