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The Dartmouth Bubbleheads

Dartmouth Protest.jpgI wanted to like The Dartmouth Radical newspaper, I really did. Intelligent debate is fun, and Marx did have some interesting things to say back in the day, but these kids haven’t even made the effort to cross Wheelock Street and go into town to investigate working conditions, let alone venture into the cities and villages surrounding Hanover. The paper’s second issue whines about the administration’s “assault” on the SEIU union, and the student authors write uncritical bios of the College’s oh-so-put-upon staff, but if our crusading activists really feel that low compensation is an injustice, there are plenty of people living near Hanover for whom the Dartmouth staff’s high wages and lush benefits are a pipe dream. Real worker-student solidarity might be found among these proletarians, if these left-leaning firebrands cared to look, or, inversely, investigating students might themselves get an education in pride, self-reliance and independence.

To the above criticism of the paper’s skewed focus on Dartmouth workers, you can add the sad fact that there is no evidence at all of numeracy among the paper’s writers. Hey, young radicals, how about making the effort to precisely describe for your readers the wages, benefits and lengthy vacations that the College’s staff enjoys, and then compare those figures to national and local income statistics, or to the compensation earned by employees at specific local companies? Analysis of that nature would be evidence of strong minds and a fine education.

At present, the DartRad is just an example of unthinking high school left-liberalism.

Come to think of it, there is a radical critique to be made of the working world at Dartmouth: why have Dartmouth’s managers behaved with such insensitivity over the years? Why are the College’s overpaid workers unhappy with their working conditions? Those observations are among the reasons that many of the College’s employees felt a need to join a union in the first place — the Hanover Inn staff most recently in 2005, under the administration of supposedly caring Jim Wright. The College has a history of labor law violations and poor management. And the union follows “go slow” work rules to keep employment up. That’s all grist for young lions of radical investigative journalism.

Addendum: The DartRad has reproduced a letter that Students Stand With Staff (SSWS) delivered on October 26 to Interim President Carol Folt and Vice-President David Spalding. Its conclusion:

We thus inform you that if the following demands are not met by Friday, November 2nd, we will resort to more drastic measures. All other avenues of dialogue and persuasion have failed; we will not watch silently as you, the Dartmouth administration, commit grave injustices.

We demand that Dartmouth College restore pre-January 2011 healthcare benefits for all Dartmouth staff.

We demand that Dartmouth College halt all further subcontracting of work on campus.

We demand that Dartmouth College provide annual salary raises for all staff members and that these raises exceed the rate of inflation.

Sincerely,

Dartmouth Students Stand with Staff October Committee

Beyond the threats, there is no reasoned argument here. The entire message can be summed up as: Let’s go back to how things were. This not the cry of radicals; it is the voice of knee-jerk reactionaries.

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