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Suspending Beta Without a Hearing?
In the course of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon tried to stonewall federal investigators by denying them access to tapes of conversations held in his office. His grounds? One argument he advanced was that the recordings were critical to national security. However DC District Court Judge John Sirica allowed the investigation to go forward, ruling on the facts that national security had nothing to do with it, dearie.
My point today is simply that any justification for administrative in/action must meet a test for coherence and accuracy. If it does not, it will be ruled invalid.
An example closer to home occurred when Hanover Police and Safety & Security recently searched for a freshman who had been observed drinking three margaritas and a martini at
Molly’s over the course of a two-hour meal. In the Hanover Po’s elaborate report of the incident, S&S advanced the notion that it needed to enter the student’s locked room due to a concern that the student had passed out due to alcohol consumption. Given that H. Po and S&S had precise information on the student’s consumption (it had his restaurant receipts and he had been surreptitiously watched by Dartmouth employee Ruth Kett), this excuse was a sham — its dishonesty probably contributed to the light penalty the freshman’s lawyer negotiated for his client’s conduct.
All of which leads us to the summary suspension of Beta Alpha Omega fraternity without any type of hearing by Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, Esq. (University of Michigan Law, Class of 1988). Beta’s crime? Having circulated e-mails about hazing, in which such acts as “spraying pledges with Champagne” and taking shots at various places on a circuit were described.
Was suspending Beta justified under the Dean’s own Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) rules? You tell me:
Did Beta need to be suspended in order to “preserve and protect the safety and/or welfare of specific individuals on campus and/or the College community as a whole”? Has the frat been “charged with serious criminal behavior” or does it pose “a significant risk to the safety or educational environment of the community”?
Judge Sirica would laugh this one out of court. There is obviously no safety issue involved, no criminal behavior is threatened (hazing is a Class B misdemeanor), and what possible risk is posed to the educational environment at the College? — Beta certainly wrote about nothing that doesn’t occur virtually every weekend at dozens of venues around the College. Beyond that point, Beta’s supposed pledge plans went no further than things that were done by many sanctioned fraternities in the past, fraternities that were allowed to carry on pending an investigation.
I am sorry to say that we have to put this one at Phil Hanlon’s door. Dishonesty in the enforcement of standards is intolerable, especially at an institution in which intellectual rigor is a core value. If such tactics are an indication of what is to come, I don’t have much hope for the policies Phil will announce on November 18.
Addendum: The College routinely plays fast and loose with its own rules. Most events that are deemed hazing by Wes Schaub and his many minions do not come close to meeting Dartmouth’s published standards, let alone the laws of the State of NH.
October 18, 2009
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August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…