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Today’s Public Thrashing

The editors have invited radical Chris Schons ‘88 to sound off “For the Valley News” on all that ails the College. He starts off with a recitation of Dartmouth’s recent tribulations, and then he focuses on the direct investments by the Trustees of endowment monies.

Normally, I don’t have much time for Schons — too many of his accusations are just boilerplate ranting or unsubstantiated accusations — but in this instance the VN’s editors seem to have wrestled him into writing only about supportable facts. Read his intro:

As a 1988 graduate of Dartmouth, I’m stunned by the college’s parlous state. In recent years, it has been buffeted by a series of tumultuous events on campus, and the resulting negative press reports. In 2012, Rolling Stone published a story about extreme hazing practices (featuring feces and something called a “vomlet”) by a college fraternity. Shortly afterward, a recent graduate told a horrific tale of sorority hazing, published in the Huffington Post, that left her with a blood alcohol level of .399 and nearly dead. Other recently published pieces recount nights of “wild intoxication” or mention the college’s “singularly homophobic, sexist and racist atmosphere.”

Last year also saw the college’s program for admitted applicants — “Dimensions of Dartmouth” — interrupted by undergraduate protesters declaiming loudly that the campus was inhospitable to gays, minorities and others. And just last month, a couple of dozen students occupied the office of college president Phil Hanlon, demanding that he give consideration to their “Freedom Budget,” purportedly designed to make Dartmouth a more equitable and tolerant place.

While all this was going on, the federal Department of Education was conducting a Title IX investigation of the college for alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases. Predictably, applications to Dartmouth this year dropped 14 percent, by far the worst drop-off in the Ivy League…

How much of this kind of thing can the College endure? The administration would have you believe that yield is up this year due to a revised Dimensions program and other superficial changes to student life, even though applications were way, way down. My eye. When an institution is pummeled in the press as often as Dartmouth is, its reputation has to take a serious hit.

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