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Does Anyone Study History?

A thoughtful alumna from a class in the early 80’s writes in to bemoan the seeming absence of historical memory among the College’s administrators:

You were on campus at the same time I was — I certainly participated in a “hook-up culture” THIRTY YEARS AGO! and there was “slut shaming” and “male-whore” shaming (applause from their friends, for sure, but women disparaged them among ourselves). I marched with other women to “take back the night” from women’s fear of assault. Fraternities were under attack for “high risk” behavior — including binge drinking. Some things never change — maybe because young, twenty-somethings have limited judgment, and take dangerous risks with their bodies. I remember that a classmate of yours ripped a woman’s blouse off in the basement of a frat and was disciplined and expelled his senior year. (She lived in my dorm). Handled. No solicitation of alumni for “feedback”, no Press Releases about the terrible rape culture and Dartmouth’s effort to reform.

Institutions and the professionals that harbor this age group should be well aware of the risks students will take and the challenges of keeping them safe when there is a critical mass of them living together. Nothing new here! A solution would be to close all the dorms and have them live with older adults as commuter students (that’s how we kept them alive through High School up until we shipped them off to college!)

Also — this is a time in life when you are looking for causes. No war to protest? Some in our classes protested investment in South Africa and women’s rights…… Now — what do the kids have to protest? “Feeling left out?” Having “love” relationships v. sex? I read with amusement, like the old lady that I am, the description of a culture that “our parents” don’t understand. My teenagers have had sensitivity training way beyond anything I was ever exposed to — they drink LESS than we did in the 70s in HS. All this earnest solicitation of feedback, roundtables, committee meetings and our President’s “leadership” in the national media just looks foolish. Are these administrators new at this? If they just spoke to the parents or the High School administrators where they recruit, they would know the “hook-up” culture starts way before Dartmouth.

When students march to take over the administration buildings (sigh, AGAIN! — not original, kids, you should have asked your parents how it was done!), shouldn’t the administration know that they need to listen and nod with concern, then get on with the business of getting them back to the classroom? I would think that since the 60s, every school of education would have a class on how to handle protesters taking over the President’s office! Inspect the existing policies of reporting and punishment for prohibited/illegal behavior, make sure they are communicated, then move on! Too many administrators today are making a career out of social engineering and labeling as new, problems that will always exist when this age group lives together.

All of the outrage and astonishment at student behavior is a very amateur response from a college founded in 1769.

Addendum: The most common refrain that I hear from alumni these days is, “What the heck is going on in Hanover?” Phil Hanlon’s vision for Dartmouth is a phrase that comes trippingly off the lips of the College’s PR people, but in his first year, there has been chaos aplenty.


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