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McGrew Sees the Green

Earlier this year, Jennifer McGrew ‘13 took to the pages of The D to lambaste the College and note the “racism and sexism” that she found everywhere in it. She described her undergraduate experience as a “four-year struggle of torment,” replete with “harassment” and “mental abuse from fellow students” who treated her “like a second-class citizen.” However, when it came to providing specific details of her travails, the evidence was a little thin:

“another incident of racist vandalism” [a nasty word or two on a whiteboard]

“my peers outside of the classroom ignore me”

“moving aside as my white counterparts walk past me on the sidewalk”

“there is not one building on campus named after a black alumnus” [or alumna?]

But everyone is entitled to their own conclusions, n’est-ce pas?, and McGrew certainly knew where she stood with regards to the College: she couldn’t wait to put Dartmouth in her rearview mirror:

After I graduate, I will probably not return to Dartmouth’s campus. I will not be the alumna to come back for every Homecoming or Winter Carnival celebration. I will not be the alumna who donates even a moderate sum of money to the institution. If I have learned anything from my time here, it is that the privilege on which people here pride themselves makes me lose faith in humanity…

I do not feel welcome within this community. I cannot wait to get my Dartmouth diploma, walk across the stage and gaze at the Green for the last time.

I do not want to be the angry black woman on campus, but, frankly, that is all I can be at this point. I am tired of the rude, disrespectful, hateful, racist, sexist and privileged individuals that populate this campus.

It is also time for me to leave and not look back.

Oooops. Not so fast! It seems that Jennifer, perhaps after sampling the real world, has found that the bosom of dear Mother Dartmouth is comforting after all. Look who just became part of the bureaucracy:



Dare I say it? Has Jennifer decided after all to be the “angry black woman on campus”? I expect that she will be part of a cadre of administrators that teaches hard-working students of color that the travails of adolescence and the pressures of a demanding education are not phenomena that we all must endure; no, in fact, the difficulty of these hurdles is just the result of omnipresent racism and sexism. That’s an easy out, isn’t it?, especially when the College can be counted on for a post-graduation job.

Addendum: In response to the above post, I have heard from Professor of History Annelise Orleck, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies Reena Goldthree, and Program Administrator for African & African American Studies Adrienne Clay:

Reena Goldthree:

Given the number of pressing issues that confront Dartmouth at this critical juncture—including those outlined in the recent New York Times article and the College’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report—it is shocking that you elected to run a piece attacking a young alumna who has worked tirelessly to tackle the very issues that undermine Dartmouth’s diverse community. During her undergraduate years at Dartmouth, Jennifer McGrew ‘13 was a leader on campus and a mentor to many. She bravely detailed her numerous experiences with racism, sexism, and classism on campus in The Dartmouth and faced the vitriolic backlash with tremendous courage. Now, Jennifer is working diligently on behalf of the College to connect undergraduate students with sought-after volunteer and internship opportunities. Rather than smearing Jennifer’s character and her new staff position, Dartblog should refocus its attention on the issues that have garnered the College an unending stream of negative publicity over the past two years. Equally as important, Dartblog should issue a printed apology to Jennifer McGrew.

Annelise Orleck:

Jennifer McGrew is one of the hardest-working, most mature and most thoughtful students I have encountered in 22 years of teaching at Dartmouth. While an undergraduate here she set an example that her peers would do well to emulate - she worked several jobs to support herself, earned good grades, contributed substantively to her classes and did serious independent research. She was warm and respectful to faculty and staff. She also mentored younger students - helping them to establish their place on campus. The threats and abuse she endured were frightening and awful, and quite real.She bore them with grace and dignity. I can think of no former student better qualified to work in the job she now occupies. And I cannot figure out why Dartblog would choose to attack a young woman who is an inspiration to so many. A printed apology is in order.

Adrienne Clay:

You really crossed a line with this morning’s post about Jennifer McGrew. She happens to be a young woman I know fairly well, though I would be shocked by the personal nastiness of the piece you wrote whether that were the case or not. Jennifer is hands-down one of the most positive, generous, ambitious, and mature young people I have met in my time at Dartmouth.

I am not the only one who knows this to be true. Jennifer was the recipient of the Grace and James S. Parkes 1920 Prize at Class Day last June, which is “awarded annually to a graduating senior who has a demonstrated record of concern for others and exemplifies the personal qualities of kindness, good fellowship, and respect.” She has given much to Dartmouth despite the hard truths that she shared in last year’s op-ed.

If Dartblog is to play a useful role in the campus community — and I think it can — let it not be to attack some of the college’s brightest young graduates or to twist the knife in the wounds that you must know this place too often creates.

I find the repeated requests above for an apology to be curious. In her D piece, Jennifer McGrew criticized the College and most members of the Dartmouth community in the harshest possible terms — even though she cited virtually no convincing facts to support her conclusions. She then announced that she wanted to be done with the College as soon as she could, never to return. For this space to note that McGrew is now employed in Career Services, ostensibly counseling many of the students whom she could not abide as a student, is a contradiction that I feel absolutely no shame in reporting. Perhaps it is Jennifer McGrew who should be writing to students, faculty and staff to let us know why it is she so completely changed her mind about Dartmouth.

Addendum: A longtime reader writes in with a point of view contrary to that of the above-quoted members of the College community:

Mr. Asch - I am a frequent reader of Dartblog and could not resist responding to your latest post concerning Jennifer McGrew. Ms. McGrew is no stranger to the pages of The D. She is quoted in an article dated 9/23/2011 complaining that the College’s meal plan was too hard on students receiving financial aid. She is quoted in an article dated 5/31/2011 complaining that she was asked by Dick’s House to bear a portion of the cost of vaccinations necessary for her study-abroad program - a privilege that was most likely fully funded by the College. She is further quoted in an article dated 2/16/2012 discussing her academic struggles during her freshman year - struggles that led Dartmouth’s Student Accessibility Services to diagnose a (latent?) reading disability and provide complimentary software designed to read assigned materials aloud to her, along with a smart pen to record all of her lectures and a note-taker to keep track of her classes. One wonders if this level of support would have been available at most other institutions. Gratitude? - not so much. The sense of entitlement is breathtaking. And now the College has hired her? Laugh or cry? All that said, it is difficult, from a moral standpoint, to know whether or not you should write anything more about her. She is, after all, just a clueless kid - steeped in the prevailing culture of professional victimhood - maybe she will eventually grow out of it. The College, on the other hand, should certainly be able to meet its staffing needs without hiring an on-the-record Dartmouth hater.

The thing that I find most surprising about the comments by Dartmouth professors is the manner in which all of them chose to ignore the elephant in the room - i.e. the off-the-charts irony of the situation. A student chooses to write an op-ed thoroughly trashing the College and vowing never to return - only to hightail it back to Hanover as soon as an employment opportunity presents itself. Neither you nor anyone else here disputed the assertion that Ms. McGrew was a valued member of the College community as an undergraduate - yet this is all these professors want to talk about. This seems to me to be part of a broader and very disturbing trend - the practice of encouraging certain groups of students to abdicate all personal responsibility for their own and entirely voluntary actions. After all, it is not as though someone stole Ms. McGrew’s private diary and published it - she chose to write the op-ed that you referenced in your post. She should own it.

Addendum: Another veteran Dartblog reader writes in with a countervailing opinion:

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Notwithstanding the above shibboleth, I might have expected that the young lady’s imprecations against Dartmouth would, ipso facto, disqualify her from employment by the College. I suspect that when she criticized the College she had no idea how competitive the job market is for recent graduates, especially for one who may have had grades which reflected her learning/reading disability. Such impairments cannot be entirely offset by special treatment, remediation, etc. I understand Ms. McGrew’s desire to be hired by the College, but she should definitely be required to eat some crow over her previous statements which seem devoid of supporting facts. Less understandable in my mind is the outpouring of support of Ms. McGrew by Dartmouth faculty who seem to feel the need to provide support for this Dartmouth graduate. In my view, she should have defended herself, if she has any defense, against the reporting in Dartblog. The fact that she has a chorus of support suggests that the chorus does not believe she is capable of argument. Perhaps she is capable, but, then, she should have done it.


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