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Balancing the Equities
When members of the Class of 2016 return to Hanover for their 25th reunion, I have no doubt that concerned sophomores from the Class of 2041 will express sympathy for all that their elders had to endure: the rampant sexual assaults, the omnipresent racism, the oppressive hazing and homophobia. However, like people in my own Class of 1979 who talk to today’s students, the ‘16’s will explain in return that isolated news reports do not history make, and that student life was quite different, and quite a bit better, than a scaremongering media would have one believe. Exhibit A might be a letter written to me last week by a mother of a young alumnus:
Addendum: The alumnus in question informs me that in his co-ed fraternity the members, male and female, all refer to each other as brothers — harkening back to the period from 1972 until the late 1980’s when Dartmouth men and women lustily sang Men of Dartmouth without concern about gender issues. Interestingly enough, when the words of the alma mater were changed, the frequency with which the song was heard dropped precipitously, as I reported about five years ago.
Addendum: The young alumnus responds to my addendum:
While I recognize the comparison you draw to the alma mater, I don’t think this choice of words is an example of simply acting “without concern about gender issues.” Instead, I think it reflects a deliberate decision by the members of a community to select, by consensus, one particular meaning for the existing term that best upholds the community’s egalitarian values. I am less convinced, unfortunately, that members of the general student body during the early years of coeducation felt they were afforded a similar agency to (re)define the language of the alma mater as appropriate (including by changing its words, if necessary) in order to meet their values.
Actually, the decision to stick with the original words of Men of Dartmouth was the result of a well understood series of events, but that is a story for another day.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…