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Work is moving steadily ahead on the home stands:

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Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of current life at the College — and throughout the academy — is the notion that students are crybabies: endlessly sensitive souls who need to be coddled and protected from any idea or expression that might trouble their so-delicate psyches. Administrators, many of whom see themselves as no more than daycare providers for 18-22-year-old infants, wail about “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” and “micro-aggressions” (a generation from now, will we read about nano-aggressions?) and students’ right to be free from the harassment of discomforting ideas. Though they and their student acolytes talk long into the night about diversity, an appreciation of diverse ideas is not on the agenda.

However, at long last, professors at some institutions (not yet at Dartmouth, I’m sad to say) are pushing back against this mushy, stiffing orthodoxy. The faculties at Chicago and Princeton have passed resolutions in support of the rough and tumble of open debate. Here is the Chicago text:

‘Education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think. Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.’ . . . Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn. Except insofar as limitations on that freedom are necessary to the functioning of the University, the University of Chicago fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the University community ‘to discuss any problem that presents itself.’ Of course, the ideas of different members of the University community will often and quite naturally conflict. But it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.

The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University. But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression, and it is vitally important that these exceptions never be used in a manner that is inconsistent with the University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas. In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.

Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission. As a corollary to the University’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

Addendum: Read the full University of Chicago Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression

Addendum: Judith Shapiro, the former president of Barnard, has written a piece for Inside Higher Education, and Judith Shulevitz did so, too, for the New York Times, decrying the infantilization of college students. Shulevitz’ essays had a tongue-in-cheek headline: In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas.

Addendum: A Hanover-based alumnus writes in:

Thanks for today’s post. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve found that not a week on campus goes by without someone mentioning ‘safe spaces’ or ‘trigger warnings’ or ‘heteronormativity…’ (The list goes on, but I’ll spare you the gory details.) While I often understand these concerns, and even empathize, I do not understand the way in which people address them — or rather, do not address them. Evasion is the modus vivendi; folks don’t want spirited debate, or even civil discourse. They want to shut doors: “This person/idea/concept/practice/reality offends me. Therefore, it should not exist.”

I always wish to reply, “The fact that (xyz) offends you is precisely why it should exist! If we’re to be good learners — and, more importantly, good citizens — we have to confront difficult and displeasing ideas head on.” We ought to even reach out our hands and say, “I strongly disagree with you, but your opinion is as valid as mine. Let’s talk about our respective belief systems and put our world-class liberal arts education to good use.” But this does not happen.

Randall Balmer, writing in the Valley News, demonstrates how a good scholar and citizen can brave upsetting ideologies without slamming doors: When I Testified for Fred Phelps

What good is a belief if it can’t withstand a cup of coffee with its adversary?

Buzzfeed thinks that UNC, Chapel Hill; the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Notre Dame are more beautiful than the College:

BuzzFeed Beautiful Colleges.jpg

Wrong. In a visit to Dartmouth on Saturday June 13, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated definitively that, “This is what a college should look like.

Addendum: In his Commencement speech on that day, Eisenhower also put forward an admonition that has relevance today in a world where some people want to protect entire communities from uncomfortable speech and ideas:

It is not enough merely to say I love America, and to salute the flag and take off your hat as it goes by, and to help sing the Star Spangled Banner. Wonderful! We love to do them, and our hearts swell with pride, because those who went before you worked to give to us today, standing here, this pride.

And this is a pride in an institution that we think has brought great happiness, and we know has brought great contentment and freedom of soul to many people. But it is not yet done. You must add to it.

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as that document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, and what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It is almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.

And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they are accessible to others is unquestioned, or it isn’t America.

This exhortation has an echo in remarks made, perhaps insincerely, by another national leader in the 1950’s: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.”

Addendum: My evocation of Mao above led to Peter Lake ‘66 sending in the below vignette:

Mao Button.jpgThis is a picture of the Mao button I swapped a Newsweek magazine for on a South African Airways jet on the Nairobi-Aden-Karachi leg of our trip from Durbin to Colombo in July 1969 while filming BLUE WATER WHITE DEATH.

The 707 had a divided fuselage, with passengers occupying two-thirds of the back and an open cargo space with a pile of empty cargo nets in the front third. Our film crew left the passenger section and went into the cargo section to drink beer and lie down on the mats. Every time the door between compartments would open we’d see the ChiComs glaring at our decadent Western ways.

Back in my seat I told an English-speaking Chinese that we’d just landed a man on the moon. He denied it and when I produced a Newsweek with the cover story he shrank away and wouldn’t accept the magazine, not even to look at it. But later when his buddies were sleeping I told him to take the magazine and he stuffed it into his jacket and gave me his Mao button which I pinned right on my jacket.

It wasn’t the first time I’d swapped with commies. At the 1964 World Parachuting Championships in Orange, Massachusetts, I served as an assistant judge, translating among the French, Spanish and Soviet teams. The Soviets wore turtleneck blue jerseys with “CCCP” letters sewn on. I swapped a Dartmouth jacket (I was about to become a freshman) for one of those jerseys but when the Soviet manager found out he made me remove the letters.

We got our revenge, however, by helping Yugoslav team member, Milan (Max) Knor, defect at the end of the competition. As the Yugoslav team was preparing to leave, Max slipped out the back of the motel into our car and we whisked him away to state police barracks. The Soviets kept their letters but we got Max, who became a noted parachutist and whose legacy continued after his death with his wife, Kim Emmons Knor.

EVP Rick Mills didn’t use those words in his Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, but that message was the clear import of all of his remarks. In that vein he led off with a October 19, 1869 quote from President Charles Eliot of Harvard:

The inertia of a massive University is formidable. A good past is positively dangerous, if it make us content with the present, and so unprepared for the future.

Mills noted that Eliot, a non-clergyman, was appointed to the Harvard presidency after “Harvard had had three failed Presidents in the space of ten years.” Then Mills said in the manner that has made me a big fan that this statement was “something prophetic for Dartmouth.” As I prepared to applaud the first public expression of that bracing truth, I looked around me to see that nobody in the Spaulding Auditorium crowd of perhaps 100 people seemed to have heard it: no clapping, no shuffling, not even a cough. I guess that the College’s staffers have other things on their minds (salaries, vacations, pensions, benefits).

Mills followed up with a 3:55 claymation/narration video that hammered home his core point: if you aren’t improving, you are falling behind:

He phrased the message somewhat less ambitiously — “you have to keep moving ahead to stay in place” — and he noted that a sense of complacency could be found at Dartmouth. Ha!

Stay tuned to Rick Mills. If anything is going to change at the College, he will be at the center of the effort.

Addendum: Right on time, the Valley News noted that the beginnings of wage discipline, and, heaven forfend, even merit-based raises, were occurring at the College:

Most non-union employees of Dartmouth College will receive a 1.5 percent pay increase for the upcoming school year but faculty and staff at the Geisel School of Medicine will have to settle instead for shots at one-time payments that would leave their base pay unchanged…

The base pay of Dartmouth employees outside of the medical school will increase 1.5 percent. That increase will take effect on June 28 for hourly workers and three days after that for those on salary. Temporary workers and those with negative job reviews won’t get raises. Some employees also will receive bonuses awarded by the provost, vice presidents and deans from “a small pool to recognize extraordinary contributions.”

Of course, these increases are taking place in a deflationary environment, but they are less than what we might have expected from the College’s three failed presidents: Wright, Kim and Folt.


One of the ironies concerning the branding brouhaha at AD is that most of the members of Dartmouth’s senior societies are tattooed with a society symbol of some kind.

Loyal readers are invited to e-mail me images of the aforesaid marks. The best picture wins a lifetime subscription to Dartblog.

Addendum: On May 13, 2011, The D did a complete report on secret society tattoos. The administration ignored the practice.

AD’s attorney George Ostler ‘77 released this statement today:


Frank Bruni had a sweet column in the New York Times today that paid tribute to his 80-year-old father, Frank A. Bruni ‘57.

This space has long noted the outrageous behavior and opinions of Dartmouth administrators such as Kate Burke and Amanda Childress, but to date the College has not been taken to task in court for the abuses perpetrated on students. The same excessive prosecution (almost always against men) has also taken place for years on other campuses, but now it seems that people are fighting back, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

WSJ SA Tribunals Comp.jpg

As more plaintiffs step forward in these litigations, other students will find the courage to do so, too. The College will soon find itself in the crosshairs.

Addendum: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece this week that details the current state of the controversies surrounding sexual assault adjudication:

Four years after the U.S. Education Department admonished colleges to take their role in responding to sexual assault more seriously, a consensus is emerging among some campus officials and legal experts that the government’s guidance is not only unrealistic but exceeds its legal authority. The amount of money and effort colleges are devoting to try to meet the mandates for adjudicating sexual misconduct, they say, is unsustainable.

Even as colleges attempt to follow the government’s recommended procedures for judging allegations of sexual assault, under threat of losing federal funds, they’re facing more scrutiny from lawmakers, plus a torrent of lawsuits and complaints from students.

This poster came in today, and I am at a loss as to why I should attend this lecture.

PEP Gaus.jpg

Is it too much to ask for a little more information?

Addendum: A person who attended Gaus’ talk offers a report:

Jerry Gaus is among the best philosophers working in the English-speaking world; he is the author of (I would guess) about 10 books and many articles; he works in one of the finest philosophy departments in the country (some say #1). He also happens to be a libertarian of sorts, and has defied the left-liberal orthodoxy that characterizes academics in general and philosophy in particular. The term “natural liberty” is a classical liberal term—it comes from thinkers like Locke and Smith. It as been adopted by contemporary libertarians, and stands for the idea that people are naturally free; thus all abridgments, constraints, and modes of coercion—especially, but not only those imposed by governments—must satisfy a high burden of justification. His talk, the poster of which you reproduced on Dartblog, was pitched at a high level: it was meant for professors and discerning, able students. Notwithstanding the poster’s spare content, Gaus spoke to a full room of profs and students from a variety of departments (Govt, Phil, and Econ most notably). His talk did what I hoped it would: interrupted the orthodoxy that passes for truth and common sense. He performed at a high level, his arguments survived searching critiques by the faculty, and overall he showed why he deserves his reputation.

He had one song better than “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

The New York Times obituary.

The derecognition of AD can be interpreted in various ways: a warning to the entire Greek system to behave, that nobody is safe from Dean Ameer’s College discipline — after all, AD is Dartmouth’s iconic frat, erstwhile home to Chris Miller, the author of Animal House; and President Hanlon, whose pledge name was diversity-rich “Juan Carlos.” Or perhaps the death of AD is only the first step in a long line of frat derecognitions, signaling a slow motion invasione alla Putinesca along the lines of Russia’s gradual absorption of the Ukraine. MDF might not formally kill the frats, but the sub-text is that the College will seek any pretext to derecognize a house, especially one with a strategically located piece of real estate.

Addendum: Interestingly enough, the College’s Dartmouth Now news digest today contained no mention of AD’s derecognition:

Dartmouth Now 04152015.jpg

AD is the first to go; it won’t be the last.

Based on these findings and in consideration of Alpha Delta’s past conduct history, the OAC has derecognized Alpha Delta Fraternity. Derecognition is defined in the Dartmouth College Student Handbook as permanent revocation of recognition. We direct you to the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Handbook for a description of the privileges which recognized organizations enjoy. Loss of recognition revokes privileges including, but not limited to, recruitment of Dartmouth College undergraduates; recognition as a “college approved ” residential facility; use of College facilities or resources; participation in any College activities such as intramurals; and provision of insurance coverage.

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The College’s Office of Public Affairs released the below statement late this afternoon while the letter derecognizing AD was disseminated. Note the final statement that any appeal that AD might undertake is probably in vain:

We have received a number of inaccurate reports concerning the pending Dartmouth College disciplinary matter involving the Alpha Delta fraternity. Therefore, we are issuing the following statement:

Dartmouth’s Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) has found Alpha Delta fraternity responsible for violating Dartmouth’s standards of conduct in connection with the branding of some new members of the fraternity by other members in the fall of 2014. Alpha Delta was also found responsible for violating the terms of its suspension in effect at the time of the branding. Based on these findings, the OAC has derecognized Alpha Delta as a Dartmouth student organization. The fraternity has until April 20 to appeal the decision.

In addition, the Dean of the College, exercising her separate authority under the policies of the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, has taken under advisement the evidence presented during the OAC hearing and is considering whether it is in the best interest of the Dartmouth College community to withdraw recognition of Alpha Delta, regardless of the outcome of any appeal.

Alpha Delta.jpgThe brothers of Alpha Delta fear that their house will be de-recognized in the wake of the branding scandal, according to a memo drafted for the brotherhood by Larry W. Weidner, II D’85. Here is a summary of its key points. Needless to say, the brothers’ version of events is quite different from the depiction put forward by Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer in her public comments:

● AD’s first offense was to serve alcohol to a vindictive student who had pre-gamed on her own. Her accusations are vague due to College rules on privacy. The second incident involved the arrival of 30 or so students at AD after the break-up of a party elsewhere. They joined 30 AD brothers, and before the brothers could register the spontaneous party “on the fly,” Safety and Security had written the house up for an illegal gathering. As a result of the two incidents, the house incurred harsh penalties that will last through the summer of 2015.

● The AD “brand” incident involved 17’s who were not part of any initiation rite or pledge activity — rather some brothers chose to be branded rather than have Indian or AD tattoos, as had also been done in the past. The College is prosecuting the house, five brothers, and possibly also recipients of brands from past classes.

● The branding came to light when a brother was examined by a doctor prior to participation in an FSP program. The doctor noticed the brands and informed President Hanlon and Dean Ameer [a clear violation of HIPAA medical rules and the confidentiality of doctor/patient relations]. The Town of Hanover Police investigated the charge, but found no violation of any NH law, including hazing.

● The memo asserts that Dean Ameer is Harvard through and through. She wants to impose the Harvard “house” model on the College, and she has her covetous eye on AD’s physical plant (despite the fact that it is owned by the house corporation) for use as a “community house space.”

● Dean Ameer has asserted untruths about AD: that branding was part of hazing; that the house still hazes; that a student’s brand became infected, etc. Overall, she believes that she can de-recognize the house on her own initiative.

● The alumni of the house will create a petition to voice support for the house. The unfinished petition is here, and AD now has a Facebook page and a Google group.

● The brothers and alumni of the house will also look into setting up a trust account to hold donations to the College until such time as sanctions on the house are lifted, or in the event of de-recognition, until the house is reinstated. AD has existed in one form or another since 1799; its brothers won’t leave lightly.

● The house’s current brothers are sufficiently dejected that they have discussed voluntarily de-recognizing the house — an action that might save the five brothers who have been charged in connection with the branding.

● The alumni of AD will be reaching out to members of other houses in an effort to assemble support for the fraternity system.

● A hearing was held last Thursday.

We re-produce the entire memo below:

Subject: FWD: AD Situation Update - Danger Close to De-recognition
Date: April 3, 2015 at 4:15:54 PM EDT

Fellow Adelphians,

Thank you in advance for indulging me as I try to bring you up to speed on the current AD situation as I understand it. Please forgive the length of this email, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible for your consideration of the proposal made at the end of this email. If you are receiving this, it is because I understand that you are an AD and I am trying to compile a list of as many ADs as I can muster from whatever source. If you receive multiple copies, I apologize, I am compiling a listing of brothers from multiple sources and some duplication is likely. If you see ADs that have not been included on this email, please forward this to them and advise me so I can add them to the list. I think the only way to save the houseboat is to get communication flowing so we can act as one brotherhood. What follows is what I understand to be the true status of matters. If I have anything erroneous included, I apologize and welcome correction.

Congrats to the Economics department for two interesting new programs, and for getting people off-campus during the over-crowded Fall term:

Econ 70A.jpg

As I have noted before, when I was a student there was no housing crunch, and we could live all four years in the same dorm because the administration managed the attendance of 4,000+ Dartmouth students so that no more than 3,200-3,300 were on campus in the fall term. Frankly, the College should make an off-campus term on a Dartmouth program mandatory for all students. Give students a great educational experience and solve a good part of the housing continuity problem to boot. Come on, Phil.

Erratum: Ooops. An Econ prof writes in:

The new Econ classes are on campus in the fall term, off campus in the Winterim. They don’t alleviate the housing crunch. They make it worse.



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