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The Truth and the Blather

An alumnus parent comments on the gap between Dartmouth on the ground, and what Councillors hear at AC meetings:

Please see the Alumni Council summary below … I will leave it to you to comment on the growing focus on Diversity and Inclusion. The objective is laudable and just, but the overemphasis to the exclusion of all else risks alienating those who are extremely qualified to become members of the Dartmouth community — whether students or professors — but deemed “not diverse enough.”

At some point the focus should be on “most qualified and most likely to change Dartmouth and the world for the better” as opposed to “mostly likely to make Dartmouth look better to the world.” Racism is vile in all of its forms, including the form where terms such as “diversity and inclusion” are used to justify turning away eminently qualified prospective students or faculty members just because they don’t fit a class-based objective. I fear continuing down this path — just like failing to embrace Dartmouth as potentially the preeminent undergraduate-focused institution (we should be Williams x10!) — will result in “Moving Dartmouth Backward.”

The Housing Community “spin” is becoming hard to defend based on what I hear and have witnessed firsthand, less so from my own child but very much so from her friends. Their succinct view is that there is zero “cohesiveness” or “sense of belonging” in a group of 400-600 kids. Only a reversion to a smaller unit, including a dormitory-focused system which somehow worked well for 200 years before being abandoned beginning in the mid-1980s, will achieve the intended outcome. Absent a reversion to smaller units, the Greek system will remain the main focal point for social activity.

Also, the real issue is the growing disparity in housing quality. Putting aside the joke that is the River Cluster (which is being targeted for demolition as part of the new capital campaign), the crumbling infrastructure in the “old line and classic” dorms such as the Gold Coast, Mass Row and the Fayerweathers is extremely troubling, particularly compared to newer clusters like East Wheelock, McLaughlin, and Fahey.

I was surprised but not shocked at the extreme decay I witnessed in the Cluster last year; I am shocked, however, that Mass Row and the Gold Coast are essentially the same quality, albeit in a fantastic location (were those buildings another 300 yards from the Green, they would be as denigrated as the Cluster or the Choates). Perhaps the College should spend more funds on faculty salaries and infrastructure, and less on things like “institutes” and initiatives which sound terrific but either cannot be implemented quickly, or which detract from the core “brand” of being the absolute best undergraduate-focused institution in the U.S.

It is normal and actually healthy for long term growth and strength that Dartmouth and every one of its peers never cease undertaking some form of transformation and reconstruction, and to admit to shortcomings in a never-ending search for improvement and advancement. However, what is becoming tiresome is the “PR spin” that “all is well” in certain areas which need huge corrections. One common theme of the “PR spin” is the fact that the subject material often falls under the purview of Dean Ameer; she constitutes an “area” which needs a major change.

See the usual administration paean to, you guessed it, diversity and inclusion (or is it inclusivity) in the extended:

Alumni Council Report1.jpg

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