Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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Given the trend in the College’s rankings over the last 25 years (from #7 to #12) and our unending series of scandals, it’s hard to imagine that our U.S. News position is going to improve any time in the near future. My fear is that Brown and Cornell will soon pass us, and we’ll then be referred to as LIL Dartmouth*. BestCollegeReviews.org has produced an infographic showing how U.S. News (and other ratings services) compiles its rankings:
Given the tight bunching in U.S. News’ table, our drop could be preciptious:
Has Phil done anything to raise our profile along the dimensions that U.S. News finds important?
* Last in the Ivy League.
Addendum: What is it going to take for the Trustees to realize that they don’t have a clue about what is happening on campus, and that successive administrations of their choosing are going consistently in the wrong direction? When we hit #20?
Addendum: A faculty member writes in:
Enjoyed your column on rankings. Note that faculty resources counts for 20%, of which 35% of that is faculty salary. That means 7% of Dartmouth’s score is based on faculty salary. Given your earlier columns showing Dartmouth falling behind peer schools in faculty salary during the Kim years, is it a surprise that our ranking has gone down? Our ranking is now more consistent with what faculty are being paid compared to other schools. Dartmouth now ranks #23 in faculty pay (according to the Chronicle). Note that Vanderbilt, Northwestern and WashU all have higher faculty pay than Dartmouth, as does Duke, which vaulted above us in the rankings. Eight of the top 10 of the U.S. News rankings are in the top 10 for faculty pay (and Duke just misses it). Given how tight the other statistics are, Dartmouth faculty pay may be a key factor in the ratings drop.
My correspondent correctly notes that faculty pay has dropped over the past few years as compared to the schools that are our competitors for professors and students. This choice on the part of the administration is particularity foolish given that compensation for the College’s professors amounts to only 10% of the total Dartmouth budget, as Economics Professor Eric Zitzewitz pointed out at a faculty meeting last May. In operational terms, we could raise professors pay by 10%, attract better faculty members, and improve our ranking, at a cost of only a 1% increase in the budget.
Regrettably, nobody but your humble servant takes the time to emphasize that while Dartmouth faculty members are poorly paid relative to their peers, members of the staff rake it in compared to people in equivalent jobs in the local labor market. There are people who believe that Dartmouth is really a social welfare agency, and others who think that we are an institution of higher learning. Which side are you on?
English Professor Martin Favor’s prosecution for the possession of child pornography is now in the hands of a federal prosecutor with a two-week trial scheduled to start on January 5, according to a story today in the Valley News:
J. Martin Favor, 49, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of possessing child pornography in U.S. District Court in Concord last week, two weeks after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on the charge.
Favor first faced child pornography charges in Sullivan Superior Court in Newport, but Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said those charges have been dismissed because the case is now proceeding on the federal level.
On the instruction of the court, Favor is currently undergoing counseling with a New Hampshire-based sex therapist. He is on paid administrative leave from the College.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has downgraded the College from a Green Light to a Yellow Light rating. In a press release the organization was careful to note that this change was not related to the recent BLM invasion of Berry Library; rather, it originated in a “January 2013… incident in which a student spoke in mock-Chinese gibberish to several Asian students in the cafeteria.”
FIRE explained the reason for its decision as follows:
Examples of bias incidents, according to Dartmouth’s Office of Pluralism and Leadership, include “telling jokes” and “stereotyping.” This policy is inconsistent with Dartmouth’s claim to be an institution that “prizes and defends the right of free speech.” If every joke or provocative remark about politics, religion, or culture is potentially subject to a formal investigation, Dartmouth students are not truly free to speak their minds.
Following our first letter, Dartmouth General Counsel Robert Donin responded to FIRE assuring us that “Dartmouth did not initiate any disciplinary action” in response to the January 2013 incident. But Donin’s letter did not address our concerns with the policy itself.
After roughly two years passed with no change to the policy, FIRE wrote to Dartmouth again in February 2015, this time warning that unless Dartmouth revised the policy, “FIRE will no longer be able, in good faith, to give the college our best rating for free speech.” Donin responded that the college would “consider [FIRE’s] suggestions,” but the policy remains unchanged to this day.
Here is the OPAL site defining incidences of bias that FIRE is concerned about:
So this married guy walks into a bar…
The term from Constitutional jurisprudence that you are looking for to describe the weakness of the College’s rule is overbroad: the start of my joke above could have landed me in hot water had I been a student and had Dean Ameer taken a dislike to me. Her definition of bias is so wide open that you could prosecute anyone for almost anything under its terms. Our legal sense of fairness requires that laws offer some sense of predictability, which these anti-bias rules do not do.
With the College’s demotion, the only Ivy school with a Green FIRE rating (“Green light institutions are those colleges and universities whose policies nominally protect free speech”) is Penn. Like us, Yale has a Yellow rating (“Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application”), and Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and Brown are rated Red (“A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”)
A letter is circulating among faculty members asking for, um, I can’t figure out what really, except more money for the things that we have been spending fortunes on for the last 30-40 years. See for yourself:
You would think that these intellectuals would have the artfulness to at least condemn the angry library invasion, but then justify it as the predictable result of dreaded “structural racism/inequality” — but no such finesse or specificity is to be found.
Comparable letters are being circulated at Princeton, Yale, Brown, Amherst, and Oberlin.
Addendum: Signatories so far are in the extended.
Txetxu Aguado, Associate Professor of Spanish
Stephon Alexander, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Echelle Avelar, Community Director River Cluster and LLC Houses
Aimee Bahng, Assistant Professor of English
Renee Bergland, Visiting Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Sara Biggs Chaney, Lecturer, Institute for Writing and Rhetoric
Lynda E. Boose, Professor of English
Bill Boyer, Lecturer, Institute for Writing and Rhetoric
Leslie Butler, Associate Professor of History
Ryan Calsbeek, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Nicola Camerlenghi, Assistant Professor of Art History
Celia Chen, Research Professor of Biological Sciences
William Cheng, Assistant Professor of Music
Mary K. Coffey, Associate Professor and Chair of Art History
Ayo A. Coly, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and African Studies
Margaret H. Darrow, Professor of History
Mary R. Desjardins, Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies
Mona Domosh, Professor of Geography
N. Bruce Duthu, Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies
George Edmondson, Associate Professor of English
Laura Edmondson, Associate Professor of Theater
Chad Elias, Assistant Professor of Art History
Aden Evens, Associate Professor of English
Jennifer Gargano, Undergraduate Admissions
Alysia Garrison, Assistant Professor of English
Kirsten Giebutowski, African and African American Studies Program Administrator
Reena Goldthree, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies
Carolyn Gordon, Professor of Mathematics
Christian Haines, Assistant Professor of English
Alexandra Halasz, Associate Professor of English
Katie Hornstein, Assistant Professor of Art History
Jason Houle, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Cynthia Huntington, Professor of English and Creative Writing
Rachel Hynson, Postdoctoral Fellow in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies
Dan Kotlowitz, Professor and Chair of the Theater Department
John Lamperti, Professor of Mathematics Emeritus
Gary Lenhart, Senior Lecturer in the Writing Program and English Department
Kirstyn Leuner, Postdoctoral Fellow, Neukom Institute and English Department
Eng-Beng Lim, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Erzo Luttmer, Professor of Economics
Thomas H. Luxon, Professor of English
Annabel Martín, Associate Professor of Spanish and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Director Gender Research Institute
Janice McCabe, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Patricia McKee, Professor of English
Almita A. Miranda, Predoctoral Fellow in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies
Douglas Moody, Senior Lecturer in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies
Bethany Moreton, Professor of History
Giavanna Munafo, Senior Lecturer of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Abigail Neely, Assistant Professor of Geography
Paul Novosad, Assistant Professor of Economics
Laura A. Ogden, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Reiko Ohnuma, Associate Professor of Religion
Annelise Orleck, Professor of History
Erich Osterberg, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences
Donald Pease, Professor of English
David A. Peterson, Associate Professor and Chair of Linguistics
Julia Rabig, Lecturer in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Israel Reyes, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Kimberly Rogers, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Naaborko Sackeyfio-Lenoch, Associate Professor of History
Simone Schaner, Assistant Professor of Economics
Ivy Schweitzer, Professor of English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Jeff Sharlet, Associate Professor of English
Walter Simons, Professor of History
Chris Sneddon, Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies
Valerie Stefani, Dartmouth College Child Care Center
Patricia Stuelke, Assistant Professor of English
Craig Sutton, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Melanie Benson Taylor, Associate Professor and Chair of Native American Studies
George R. Trumbull IV, Associate Professor of History
Pamela Voekel, Research Fellow and Associate Professor of History
Emily Walton, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Michelle Warren, Professor of Comparative Literature
Margaret Williamson, Associate Professor Emerita of Classics and of Comparative Literature
Lee A. Witters, Professor of Biology, Medicine & Biochemistry
Pati Hernández, Adjunct Professor Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Phil’s office keeps sending out to parents and alumni the same form letter that was drafted and distributed last week. Sad stuff, really. On one side we have a clear declaration that “vandalization” of a BLM display occurred — no quibbling there — and on the other we still have the words “political protest” as a description of the angry mob that invaded Berry. Here’s an e-mail that went out today:
Phil’s Message to the Community dated yesterday was better, even if it did seem to say that both sides bore the blame for intemperate shouting. And it notes that several complaints have been received regarding the disturbance, and they are being investigated. Sloppy. Sloppy.
After close to two and a half years in office, Phil does not seem to have molded his personal staff into a smooth-running machine. Does that tell you anything about his abilities as a manager?
The Valley News’ investigative reporter/muckraker Jim Kenyon has published a two-part series on the 2008 dismissal of hugely popular Dartmouth Outdoor Programs Office director Andy Harvard ‘71 (Part 1 and Part 2). On July 15, 2008, this space’s headline read: Andrew Harvard ‘71 Fired as DOC Director; The D’s story took the College’s line: OPO director Andy Harvard steps down.
Harvard is perhaps the College’s most accomplished mountaineer with four ascents of Everest among other feats to his credit. In 2004 he gave up a varied career as a corporate lawyer, filmmaker and entrepreneur to return to Hanover to lead the Outdoor Programs Office, where his proudest accomplishments were the rejuvenation of the Outing Club and the re-building of Fred Harris Cabin. However after four years on the job, a period that included a 2007 NCAA nation championship in skiing and the great affection of students, Andy was abruptly dismissed. The ostensible reason: sloppy paperwork, late budgets and erratic job performance.
There was some truth to these charges, especially in that Andy was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease the following year, but not meeting paperwork deadlines does not get you fired out of the blue at Dartmouth. Actually, poor job performance hardly ever results in sacking at the College, but not being a team player certainly does. Andy had fought hard against the administration’s creeping nanny state attitudes: he wanted to teach students leadership and responsibility. For example, he insisted that DOC members could lead their own, chaperone-free trips to places like the Grand Tetons. He gave students the same freedoms that he had enjoyed as the undergraduate leader of the Outing Club.
The big herd of little minds in Parkhurst did not like such open displays of independence; they had been gunning for Andy for a good, long time, just as they have rousted out of the College’s ranks many other people who have argued against the party line. As it turns out, men were disproportionately the victims of this ongoing campaign, which reached its height in the following years under Jim Kim. The word is that the pattern was so clear that the General Counsel’s office wrote a letter to Kim noting that the College was at serious risk in a gender discrimination lawsuit. Kim brushed it off.
The College dangled a severance package in front of Andy, to be paid only on the condition that he keep his mouth shut about the dismissal. As Kenyon reports, the threat constituted huge pressure on Andy to not complain publicly about his treatment or even admit that he had been fired. Longtime readers of this space will recognize the paradigm here: dismissals are never announced as such in Hanover.
To date, seven years later, Andy and the administration have not come to an agreement on a severance package, despite medical confirmation that Andy had been suffering from Alzheimer’s while on the job. Andy and his family have argued for his inclusion in the College’s disability plan, which could have led to payments to Andy in the area of $200,000.
The College’s hardline attitude towards a once favorite son is hard to fathom, except for the rejection of Andy’s independent attitude. As we have reported, Dartmouth is more than generous with severance payments. In 2009 President Jim Wright and VP for Finance Adam Keller left their jobs after having been given the boot by the Trustees (Wright) and by Jim Kim (Keller) for disastrous job performance. According to the College’s IRS Form 990, both continued to receive severance payments at least through 2013 — the time period covered by the latest public filing. During the 2010-2013 period, Wright received a total of $2,335,985 and Keller took in $2,458,105. When the next Form 990 comes out in May, we’ll know if these payments continued into 2014 .
All in all, Kenyon’s two columns depict a mean-spirited College administration that had it in for Andy Harvard ‘71. Kenyon has the story right.
Addendum: Andy’s Class of 1971 is coming up on its 45th reunion. I wonder if the Class will decide to do right by Andy rather than contribute to the administration’s continued wasteful mismanagement.
Addendum: An alum from a recent class writes in:
When Jim Wright spoke at Homecoming, I always recall him closing his remarks by reminding students of the “oldest Dartmouth tradition: look out for one another.” I sincerely hope that the embarrassment generated by the Valley News will get the College to put its money where its “mouth” is and finally do right by Andy Harvard… but I suppose I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
Eleven days after the November 12 Berry Library invasion by BLM protesters, Phil Hanlon has come out with another letter to the Dartmouth community — perhaps in replacement of his weak-kneed first effort of November 13. It would seem that Phil has had his knuckles rapped by someone. Could the Trustees have weighed in? Or is e-mail to the President’s office running ten to one against the aggressors, and so Phil is listening to the prevailing wind just like Dean Ameer?
That said, note how Phil strains to establish some moral equivalency in the underlined section of the above letter. He points out something that I have heard from no quarter: that students already in the library may have shouted back at the aggressive demonstrators. Heaven forfend if it’s true; shame on Phil if it’s not.
Addendum: A reader comments:
At least, the College is now “actively investigating all reports of violations of College policy” and not hiding behind the bogus lack of any “official” complaints, but the proof is in the pudding. We shall see if (a) anything actually happens, or if (b) student privacy rights will trump any reports of discipline for violations (extremely likely), or if (c) the administration is hoping that it all goes away over the winter break. I’m cynical enough to expect that the last of those three possibilities will prove to be the case. I would love to be wrong.
Here’s a wan apology if there ever was one: only through listening has Dean Inge-Lise Ameer come to understand that “not everyone” believes that a mob of students screaming racist imprecations has no place in Berry Library. But does she?
Ameer also apologizes for making a generalization slandering conservatives, though she can’t bring herself to tell us why she said what she said, nor why she was wrong in making the statement:
This space pointed out from the very start that Dean Ameer’s appointment by Provost Carolyn Dever was a serious mistake. Ameer had neither the training nor the background to be the Dean of the College (note: though her official title is Vice Provost for Student Affairs, she is doing the job of the Dean in its traditional sense at Dartmouth). Her only qualification is that she appears to be in synch with the diversity-besotted views of Provost Dever. Amazingly enough, Dean Ameer is the proud holder of a doctoral degree from Harvard. Read her full thesis here, though the abstract may be enough:
Day-to-day race relations at Harvard College: The student perspective
Ameer, Inge-Lise. Harvard University,
Author Ameer, Inge-Lise, Pages 156 p.
Publication year 2002, Degree date 2002
Advisor: McLaughlin, Judith Block
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, universities and colleges in the United States witnessed an increase in tense race relations among students. Undergraduates describing the racial climate on their campuses conclude that the day-to-day racial tensions are the most difficult to negotiate. (Turner, 1994) This study explores the characteristics of daily “cross-race interactions” (Hurtado, 1994), the routine social and academic interactions for students of color and white students at Harvard College.
Distinguishing this study from previous research on racial climate is its emphasis on exploring students’ experiences and interpretations of their day-to-day positive and negative cross-race interactions. Based on semi-structured interviews with seven African American, seven Latino, seven Asian American and seven white undergraduates, it examines students’ interpretations of these interactions, the differences in racial groups’ descriptions and reports of their experiences, and the strategies students employ to develop successful cross-race relationships. Data analysis incorporates two processes: drafting analytical memos (Strauss, 1987) and transcribing and coding the interviews and memos (Patton, 1990).
The study’s findings indicate that students experience a strained civility in their cross-race interactions in extra-curricular activities, in housing, and in the curriculum. Students arrive with different orientations: white students arrive excited about being part of the most racially diverse community they have ever belonged to. Students of color, on the other hand, are primarily focused on exploring their own racial identities with other students of color. As a result, students of color face nervous and awkward moments with white students who have little skills or strategies for living daily in a racially diverse community. Comparatively, white students experience students of color as not being interested in them. These factors contribute to tense daily cross-race interactions and result in students across race turning to racial stereotypes for explanations of these interactions.
White students and students of color who do experience positive cross-race interactions either came from uniquely diverse secondary schools or made positive cross-race interactions at college a top priority, seeking them out through extra-curricular activities and in race-related courses.
There are also tensions intra-racially. African American students feel tension from Afro-Carribeans; Mexican-American students have tense cross-race interactions with Cuban-American and Argentinean Americans; and the Asian American students face tensions based on country of origin.[Emphasis added]
Is such scholarship — I use the term very advisedly — the kind of thing that Harvard now rewards with the title of Doctor of Philosophy? Twenty-eight chats with students that one then writes up through a lens of political correctness.
The abstract alone contains generalizations that would cause any honest social scientist to cringe. I would have thought it self-evident that many students of color go to college for the same reasons as other students: to study the liberal arts and to obtain sufficient intellectual training to go on to become scholars, scientists, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. But maybe I don’t listen as well as Dean Ameer?
She needs to find another job, and fast. Phil?
The NY Post ran an editorial last Thursday about Dean Ameer’s “apology”:
I wonder what the Post’s half-million daily print and millions of on-line readers think about Dartmouth now.
Addendum: Who hired a person like Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer anyways? Actually, Phil hired her as interim Dean, and then Provost Carolyn Dever appointed her as Vice Provost. Are you drawing conclusions about Phil and Carolyn?
Addendum: The WSJ ran a piece today entitled: A Campus Mayhem Syllabus: The grievance protests spread, and the adults keep rolling over. The College received a special mention:
Dollars to doughnuts Phil and his merry band of appeasers are busy right now drafting a diversity plan similar to the one that Brown has just announced:
Of course, if screaming at dedicated students in Berry Library will get you a $100 million diversity plan, I bet that sacking the President’s mansion will produce $150 million, and burning Dartmouth Hall to the ground will have the administration cough up $200 million. At least that’s the lesson that I would take away from administrators who cave in to the pressure of an unruly mob.
Addendum: A reader writes in about the dangers of giving in to the threat of violence:
And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.
Let’s not forget that despite the administration’s fecklessness, good things are happening all over the College. Football, which tied for the Ivy championship yesterday (Thank you, Penn!) for the first time since 1996, is on the way to building a dynasty — or at least a string of competitive teams. Thoughtful, well produced recruiting videos like this one are evidence of the increasing excellence in the Athletics Department:
Would you want your athlete to go to school with these guys? I sure would.
Addendum: From all reports, the most inclusive, diverse part of the College is the Athletics Department and the teams that represent Dartmouth. Of course, the folks there rarely primp and preen about that aspect of what they do; they are entirely focused on winning their next game. That the rest of the College could be as serious.
We went to see Suffragette and The Martian this week at cinemas on the Champs Elysées, and we were frisked by a security guard entering both movies. I hadn’t been patted down in a public place since I don’t know when — until I did recall: London in the mid-1980’s, when I was there working for Bain. At that time, you could not see a movie or a play without someone looking inside your briefcase and giving you the once over. The Irish Republican Army waged an active war of terror in London for the last thirty years of the 20th century, with several hundred different incidents, mostly bombings, on over 140 separate days that caused 38 deaths and hundreds of wounded. Here’s a summary of attacks during the time I lived in Britain’s capital:
During the IRA’s war on Britain there were periods of sustained aggression, like the first week of October in 1993:
London learned to deal with the incidents, just as Paris will. While La Capitale’s hoteliers are suffering a wave of cancellations, you can be confident that this, too, shall pass — or we’ll get used to it. We’ve seen it all before, even if the press gnashes teeth and wrings hands as if something unprecedented has occurred.
Addendum: During the same 1970-2000 period in London, there were also ten acts of terrorism by Arab groups.
Palaeopitus is a senior society, founded in 1899, which unites campus leaders in service to Dartmouth College. Palaeopitus connects students with administration by advocating on behalf of the student body to high-level administrators.
In an e-mail to the campus yesterday, the society found it possible to take issue with the tone of criticism of the violent Berry Library invasion by students supporting the Black Lives Matter movement — without even obliquely alluding to the inappropriateness of the BLM action itself. Their logic seems to be that if a group is the subject of a couple of torn T-shirts and aggressive posts on Yik Yak, it may respond as violently as it wants:
From: Student Assembly
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 5:09 PM
Subject: A Statement from the Palaeopitus Senior Society
Dear Students and Community Members,
In these past weeks, campus dialogue has turned toward race, inclusion and safety on campus. Last Thursday’s Black Lives Matter protest has become a focal point in this conversation.
Criticisms of the protest’s methodology have dominated discourse both here and in national media. It is the purpose of any institution of higher education to foster an intellectual environment that encourages both respectful dialogue and dissent. While some criticism of the protest has been respectful, we are dismayed at the form that much of the backlash against the protest has taken on campus. When students post racist comments online or direct slurs or threaten fellow community members, they only reinforce the bigotry those who protested were attempting to highlight and address.
As seniors, our delegation has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of protest at Dartmouth. The protests have catalyzed important conversations, but too often, pressing issues are raised by marginalized communities only to be dismissed outright or met with anger, even threats of violence. It is upsetting to see the issues raised by the protest—namely, racism on campus—recede into the background in favor of ad hominem attacks and outright racism. Thursday night reminded us that there are students on this campus who feel unsafe. That there are students who feel marginalized or threatened is a serious problem, and we must not dismiss this message by refusing to engage with it.
These conversations extend beyond the confines of our campus. Racial injustice exists in an important national context that includes the events at the University of Missouri and Yale University as well as the broader Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to fight police violence and systemic inequality.
We as a delegation are comprised of student leaders from disparate walks of life, and each of us wishes to affirm our commitment to addressing racism on this campus. This winterim, Palaeopitus Senior Society will be soliciting feedback from the community on ways to continue the dialogue on these vital, difficult issues. We will be reaching out to administrators, students and staff on the best steps moving forward.
We encourage you to submit questions, comments or concerns through this google form, and we hope to have a concrete plan of action by winter term.
Palaeopitus Senior Society 2016 Delegation
Aniksha Balamurugan, Hui Cheng, John Comerci, Frank Cunningham, Kirk Davis, Nathaniel Goss, Zac Hardwick, Shagun Herur, Felipe Jaramillo, Charlotte Kamai, Katie McKay, Deidra Nesbeth, Victoria Nevel, Daniela Pelaez, Tyler Rivera, Robert Scales, Maclean Simonson, Jordyn Turner, Sarah Waltcher [Emphasis added]
One would hope that the self-evident blindness and moral bias of these campus leaders would be challenged by senior members of the administration. That’s what a teaching moment is, right? Nope. Just the opposite. Dean of the College Rebecca Biron (“Biron is a professor of Spanish and comparative literature whose research and teaching focus on Latin American literary and cultural studies, literary theory, gender studies, and Mexican cultural criticism”) writes to applaud the students’ letter:
From: Rebecca E. Biron
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 5:33 PM
To: Student Assembly
Cc: Inge-Lise Ameer; Philip J. Hanlon; Carolyn M. Dever
Subject: Re: A Statement from the Palaeopitus Senior Society
Dear Palaeopitus 2016 Delegation
(Aniksha Balamurugan, Hui Cheng, John Comerci, Frank Cunningham, Kirk Davis, Nathaniel Goss, Zac Hardwick, Shagun Herur, Felipe Jaramillo, Charlotte Kamai, Katie McKay, Deidra Nesbeth, Victoria Nevel, Daniela Pelaez, Tyler Rivera, Robert Scales, Maclean Simonson, Jordyn Turner, Sarah Waltcher),
I applaud your statement to the students today. It is reasoned, calm, thoughtful, and productive. Your solicitation of comments and ideas from the community is a great first step toward formulating a plan for continuing dialogue on campus in winter term and beyond. Your leadership on this is exemplary. Thank you.
Please know that I will support this effort, as well as efforts originating from the administration and other student groups, to do the hard work of building a pluralistic community at Dartmouth. Everyone belongs. Everyone deserves to be heard. At this Liberal Arts College, we must continually teach and practice the skills necessary to listen and learn from each other.
One is left to wonder just how far the BLM movement can go before an adult on campus will take issue with its tactics. Pretty far, I think.
Last Wednesday evening, November 18, the College held a social gathering in Manhattan to allow Phil Hanlon to get together with 75-80 NYC-based Dartmouth parents. The event took place at a private apartment on the Upper East Side. Phil started off with his usual fifteen-minute stump speech — the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, Moving Dartmouth Forward, we love your kids and we’re lucky to have them in Hanover, I’m teaching the Mathematics of Sports, it’s all great at the College — and then he asked for questions.
He got them. But they were all about Black Lives Matter and the library invasion, and many of the Manhattan parents were in no mood for soft answers. About a half dozen parents in a row gave Phil an earful: they wondered why they heard nothing about the events in Berry Library from the College; why everything came to them from the press; why were their children at a school where aggressive demonstrators could invade a place reserved for study; were the demonstrators going to be punished; what was Phil going to do in response? In short, the parents wanted to know, “What the hell is going on?”
Recall that this event is taking place in one of the finer precincts of NYC among parents who are likely paying full boat for their kids to be at Dartmouth, and who could well contribute serious money to the upcoming capital campaign (it has been upcoming for a long while now, don’t you think?) [Note: At the recent Alumni Council meeting, Ann Root Keith, Chief Operating Officer of Advancement, said that the capital campaign could begin “as soon as 2017.” Methinks that the quiet phase of the campaign is pretty quiet].
Phil did not, uh, wow the crowd with his responses. He tried to defend Dean Ameer, whose remark critical of conservatives did not play well with some people in the crowd. Phil finally fell back and said, “I need to look into this further.” When asked what could be done to resolve situations like this, he opined that at Michigan the administration had put together discussion groups to bring opposing parties together to sort out their differences. Sheesh.
At that point, Trustee Peggy Tanner Epstein ‘79 stepped in to try to address relieve the tension. She noted that similar disturbances were taking place at many schools across the country (a lousy argument, by the way). Finally the evening’s host suggested that people change the subject and simply enjoy themselves at her home. The party broke up soon after.
What to say? Phil probably risks losing the support of a good many parents. Rather than showing leadership, he made everyone aware of its absence.
The Trustees have a lot to talk about.
Does anyone who attended the event want to add a comment or two?
Addendum: On November 19 Dean of the College Rebecca Biron sent the following e-mail to many parents and members of the extended Dartmouth community:
From: “Dean of the College Rebecca Biron”
Date: November 19, 2015 at 4:03:45 PM EST
To: Undergraduate Parents:;
Subject: Message to the Community
Dear Parents & Families,
Many of you may have heard reports of a demonstration at Dartmouth last week. Some of you have reached out with concerns. Please know that the safety and wellbeing of all students is our highest priority and we are supporting all of our students as they move into the final exam period of fall term.
We have seen many portrayals of what transpired the evening of November 12, and some sources have greatly mischaracterized the evening’s events. At this point, the College has no confirmed reports of physical violence. We have been and will continue to review any information thoroughly and, as always, will rely on the Standards of Conduct to determine any violations.
I would like to share with you last Friday’s message from President Hanlon to the Dartmouth campus community. I also encourage you to read the College’s “Statement Regarding Recent Student Protest in Baker-Berry Library” (http://www.dartmouth.edu/press-releases/statement-regarding-student-protest.html).
Dean of the College
Message to the Community
November 13, 2016
Dear students, faculty, and staff,
At its best and strongest, Dartmouth is a place where every person is treated with dignity and respect, where we move beyond stereotypes and caricatures and learn about each other as individuals, and where we discuss challenging issues with a shared goal of making our community—and our world—more inclusive and more just. Recent events at college campuses across the country serve as a reminder that there is more work to do to strengthen our community.
We have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others, to recognize our own limitations, to broaden our understandings, and to see issues from new perspectives. That’s why we’re here.
Although we have more to do here at Dartmouth, we have a wealth of diversity on this intimate campus. Every day we have the chance to interact with classmates, professors, and staff whose experiences are dramatically different from our own. We must take advantage of these opportunities. But a diverse environment is only a first step; what we must continue to strive for is a diverse community.
This fall we inaugurated a Dartmouth citizenship pledge, drafted by students, faculty, and staff, in which we recommitted ourselves to these principles:
“We learn together. We teach one another. We create knowledge together. We treat ourselves and each other with dignity and respect. We recognize that our diverse backgrounds broaden our understanding of the world. We appreciate that an honest and civil exchange of ideas—especially conflicting ones—strengthens our intellect and makes for an inclusive community.”
These are not just words on a page. The inclusion and safety of all members of our campus is a responsibility we each hold as citizens of the Dartmouth community. Each of us should play a role in confronting harmful and hurtful behavior. We should not tolerate acts of prejudice. We must be ready to listen with respect. And we should expect to be spoken to with respect. Free expression and the open exchange of ideas are the essential underpinnings of this, and every, academic community.
We have much to learn and much to do—here, and in the wider world—to make every person feel welcomed and valued, to confront acts of bias and ignorance, to engage in respectful conversations about challenging topics with people who have a diversity of opinions, and to increase our diversity in all areas of our community. Like so many in the Dartmouth family, I am committed to pursuing these goals. I ask you to join us, and thank you for your partnership.
Phil Hanlon ‘77
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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