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Imitation is Flattery; and the Opposite?

Lisa Paige, Ph.D., who graduated from Harvard in 1980 and describes herself as a founder of the national coalition of alumni/ae working to end on-campus sexual assault, has written a piece in the Women’s Enew blog entitled My Acquaintance Rapist Finally Figured It Out. In addition to telling her own story, she details efforts underway at other schools to combat assault, before focusing on Dartmouth’s recent conference on the subject:

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How interesting that other schools don’t want to follow the College’s lead. Methinks that the issue is not the $200,000 that Ms. Paige asserts was the cost of Dartmouth’s conference. Rather, nobody wants to challenge Dartmouth for the title of the nation’s rape school. Of course, Phil Hanlon doesn’t see things that way, as he said in an article in The Washington Post:

Asked whether he also worries about shining a spotlight on Dartmouth’s troubles, Hanlon said students and parents should take heart that the college is mobilizing to address its problems.

“These are issues everywhere,” Hanlon said. “A prospective student or parent should be concerned if a campus is not talking about them.”

To my mind, Phil is showing a mathematician’s sensitivity to the shaping of public opinion. His logical mind leads him to believe the public will applaud the College for assertively fighting assault, when, in fact, people will simply conclude that the problem is worse in Hanover than elsewhere; they’ll think that is the reason why Dartmouth is especially worried about assault. As I have said, the administration should have enlisted the seven other Ivies as co-sponsors of the recent conference. We missed an opportunity there.

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