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Phil Grilled by Parents About BLM

Phil Hanlon Target.jpgLast Wednesday evening, November 18, the College held a social gathering in Manhattan to allow Phil Hanlon to get together with 75-80 NYC-based Dartmouth parents. The event took place at a private apartment on the Upper East Side. Phil started off with his usual fifteen-minute stump speech — the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, Moving Dartmouth Forward, we love your kids and we’re lucky to have them in Hanover, I’m teaching the Mathematics of Sports, it’s all great at the College — and then he asked for questions.

He got them. But they were all about Black Lives Matter and the library invasion, and many of the Manhattan parents were in no mood for soft answers. About a half dozen parents in a row gave Phil an earful: they wondered why they heard nothing about the events in Berry Library from the College; why everything came to them from the press; why were their children at a school where aggressive demonstrators could invade a place reserved for study; were the demonstrators going to be punished; what was Phil going to do in response? In short, the parents wanted to know, “What the hell is going on?”

Recall that this event is taking place in one of the finer precincts of NYC among parents who are likely paying full boat for their kids to be at Dartmouth, and who could well contribute serious money to the upcoming capital campaign (it has been upcoming for a long while now, don’t you think?) [Note: At the recent Alumni Council meeting, Ann Root Keith, Chief Operating Officer of Advancement, said that the capital campaign could begin “as soon as 2017.” Methinks that the quiet phase of the campaign is pretty quiet].

Phil did not, uh, wow the crowd with his responses. He tried to defend Dean Ameer, whose remark critical of conservatives did not play well with some people in the crowd. Phil finally fell back and said, “I need to look into this further.” When asked what could be done to resolve situations like this, he opined that at Michigan the administration had put together discussion groups to bring opposing parties together to sort out their differences. Sheesh.

At that point, Trustee Peggy Tanner Epstein ‘79 stepped in to try to relieve the tension. She noted that similar disturbances were taking place at many schools across the country (a lousy argument, by the way). Finally the evening’s host suggested that people change the subject and simply enjoy themselves at her home. The party broke up soon after.

What to say? Phil probably risks losing the support of a good many parents. Rather than showing leadership, he made everyone aware of its absence.

The Trustees have a lot to talk about.

Does anyone who attended the event want to add a comment or two?

Addendum: On November 19 Dean of the College Rebecca Biron sent the following e-mail to many parents and members of the extended Dartmouth community:

From: “Dean of the College Rebecca Biron”
Date: November 19, 2015 at 4:03:45 PM EST
To: Undergraduate Parents:;
Subject: Message to the Community

Dear Parents & Families,

Many of you may have heard reports of a demonstration at Dartmouth last week. Some of you have reached out with concerns. Please know that the safety and wellbeing of all students is our highest priority and we are supporting all of our students as they move into the final exam period of fall term.

We have seen many portrayals of what transpired the evening of November 12, and some sources have greatly mischaracterized the evening’s events. At this point, the College has no confirmed reports of physical violence. We have been and will continue to review any information thoroughly and, as always, will rely on the Standards of Conduct to determine any violations.

I would like to share with you last Friday’s message from President Hanlon to the Dartmouth campus community. I also encourage you to read the College’s “Statement Regarding Recent Student Protest in Baker-Berry Library” (

Warm Regards,

Rebecca Biron
Dean of the College

— – —

Message to the Community
November 13, 2016

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

At its best and strongest, Dartmouth is a place where every person is treated with dignity and respect, where we move beyond stereotypes and caricatures and learn about each other as individuals, and where we discuss challenging issues with a shared goal of making our community—and our world—more inclusive and more just. Recent events at college campuses across the country serve as a reminder that there is more work to do to strengthen our community.

We have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others, to recognize our own limitations, to broaden our understandings, and to see issues from new perspectives. That’s why we’re here.

Although we have more to do here at Dartmouth, we have a wealth of diversity on this intimate campus. Every day we have the chance to interact with classmates, professors, and staff whose experiences are dramatically different from our own. We must take advantage of these opportunities. But a diverse environment is only a first step; what we must continue to strive for is a diverse community.

This fall we inaugurated a Dartmouth citizenship pledge, drafted by students, faculty, and staff, in which we recommitted ourselves to these principles:

“We learn together. We teach one another. We create knowledge together. We treat ourselves and each other with dignity and respect. We recognize that our diverse backgrounds broaden our understanding of the world. We appreciate that an honest and civil exchange of ideas—especially conflicting ones—strengthens our intellect and makes for an inclusive community.”

These are not just words on a page. The inclusion and safety of all members of our campus is a responsibility we each hold as citizens of the Dartmouth community. Each of us should play a role in confronting harmful and hurtful behavior. We should not tolerate acts of prejudice. We must be ready to listen with respect. And we should expect to be spoken to with respect. Free expression and the open exchange of ideas are the essential underpinnings of this, and every, academic community.

We have much to learn and much to do—here, and in the wider world—to make every person feel welcomed and valued, to confront acts of bias and ignorance, to engage in respectful conversations about challenging topics with people who have a diversity of opinions, and to increase our diversity in all areas of our community. Like so many in the Dartmouth family, I am committed to pursuing these goals. I ask you to join us, and thank you for your partnership.


Phil Hanlon ‘77


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