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Spector Op-Ed Incites Controversy

Ryan Spector 19’s op-ed in The D, in which he decried the unfairness of a Freshman Trips Directory skewed 15-4 in favor of women, has elicited a series of angry public comments in Hanover.

Here is a letter from the women of Epsilon Kappa Theta, which styles itself “one of the most diverse and progressive sororities on Dartmouth’s campus”:

From: Epsilon Kappa Theta
Sent: Saturday, February 3, 2018 10:38 PM
To: CAMPUS-EVENTS@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU
Subject: Letter in Solidarity

A Message to the Dartmouth Community,

The members of Epsilon Kappa Theta stand in solidarity with the 2018 First Year Trips director, the assistant director, the chosen directorate and the decisions they have and will continue to make in their leadership positions.

We cannot and will not stand for any attack on people of color, queer folk, gender non-conforming people, first generation, low-income students or women. Let us be perfectly clear, “You’re Not Tripping”, the editorial featured in The Dartmouth was exactly that. This “op-ed” was not merely an opinion; it was a manifestation of the racism, sexism and homophobia that permeates this campus daily. The Dartmouth, instead of standing up for marginalized communities, chose to give a platform for the propagation of this violence. By publishing this piece, they were complicit in the reckless inflammatory rhetoric that attempted to invalidate the character, qualifications and ability of the members of the 2018 First Year Trips directorate. As an organization that carries the weight of Dartmouth College in their name, we demand that they reevaluate their criteria for the publication of opinion editorials so that they prioritize the safety of Dartmouth students by refusing to publish content that endangers the lives and dismisses the labor of those actively working to make this college a more diverse and inclusive institution.

Epsilon Kappa Theta is an organization that would have benefited greatly from the representation of the current First Year Trips directorate. We are a house made up people of color, gender non-conforming folks, queer individuals and women; we bear witness to the revolutionary change that the 2018 First Year Trips directorate is working towards. We acknowledge that this change would never have been possible had it not been for the immense amount of labor that queer people of color have historically and currently put into this institution without due recognition. We are angry. We are hurt. And we will not stand for the attack of one of our own. We, as Epsilon Kappa Theta, feel this intimately and will continue to fight against the hateful oppression that attempts to stifle and minimize the successes of our members and communities.

We know the influence of First Year Trips and how it can color the beginning of someone’s Dartmouth career. We support the program and its mission to welcome first year Dartmouth students into our community. We also recognize the work it takes to make Trips a successful and uplifting experience. This is why we so vehemently support the labor the 2018 First Year Trips directorate has put in to create a positive environment for not only the incoming class, but for our larger community as members of Dartmouth College. The inclusion of queer folk and people of color in Trips leadership is not as the editorial states, “a plate on the diversity buffet”, but instead a step towards the radical change this institution must make to recognize and uplift the voices of those that have often been excluded from Dartmouth’s historical narrative.

We ask you to stand with us.

In solidarity,

Epsilon Kappa Theta [Emphasis added]

The notion of safety is by now a well worn one in certain circles at the College. Activists from the left continually cite their fear of violence when they are criticized in the media. “Death threats” is a favorite conversation stopper — though, at least at Dartmouth, these supposed threats are never reported to the police or to campus security.

A second group, the College’s Inter-Community Council, “an organization that seeks to build bridges across many campus communities,” has written to the campus decrying Spector’s op-ed, too. The I-CC is made up of 14 community liaisons representing the following constituencies: Environmental Justice, Accessibility, Greek Men, Women, Native American, Black, Latino, Socioeconomic class, Multi-Faith, International, LGBTQA, Pan-Asian/Asian-American, Athletes. The group’s letter is equally anguished:

From: Inter-Community Council
Sent: Saturday, February 3, 2018 7:16 PM
To: CAMPUS-EVENTS@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU
Subject: In Solidarity
To: The campus community,

We are writing to respond to the recent op-ed that was released in The Dartmouth claiming that the selection of the 2018 Trips Directorate was purposefully discriminatory towards men, specifically white men. The author of the article criticizes the Trips Directors for appointing a Directorate that is 80% female and finds it “impossible” that this selection was based only on merit.

The Inter-Community Council expresses its outrage towards this article and declares firm solidarity with the Trips Director, Assistant Director, and all of the members of the Directorate. As a group composed of campus activists who are focused on improving the Dartmouth experience for WOC and other marginalized communities, the ICC cannot stress enough how violent this article is in erasing the work of WOC on campus who have done nothing but make this institution a better place. This article specifically co-opts the vocabularies that WOC have used to critique systems of power and subverts their meanings to give credence to the very systems they aim to dismantle.

We would also like to express our disappointment towards the editors of The Dartmouth, who appear to have sacrificed the safety and wellbeing of students in favor of supposed non-partisanship. It is important to point out that in the past, anyone who has written a remotely organized, researched, and radical opinion piece and submitted it to The D has had to undergo extensive scrutiny prior to publication. We call into question the lack of citations and of substantive research in this piece. The fact that The Dartmouth’s protocols allow for publishing opinion pieces that slander members of the student body is highly problematic. They clearly had no regard for the impact that the op-ed would have upon being published. It is concerning to see how easily privileged grievances make their way into print.

The Dartmouth has suggested that those who disagree with the article write a response piece. However, a response would only validate the author and imply that his opinions are credible and worthy of debate. Opinions that perpetuate violence and systematic oppression do not deserve a public platform. Instead, we urge The Dartmouth to retract the article and issue an apology to those whom the article has harmed.

We stand by and offer support to all of those harmed by these violent actions.

Sincerely,

The Inter-Community Council [Emphasis added]

Once again harm and violence are front and center in a critique of an op-ed piece that did nothing more than point out an obvious gender imbalance in the leadership of a popular campus organization.

As well, both open letters are critical of The D for even publishing Spector’s piece. Freedom of the press seems of little value to these students, and the vehemence of their critique will undoubtedly cause the Op-Ed editors at The D — Parker Richards ‘18, Ioana Solomon ‘19 and Ziqin Yuan ‘18 — to hesitate in deciding to run similar pieces in the future.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

So sad that Dartmouth organizations, which presumably represent the collective wisdom of a group of students, would throw the first amendment away so fast. Their lack of historical context knowledge says they are not educated or properly fearful of tyranny. They’d live in a politically correct version of Iran, if they could. If we let them run our institutions of academia and eventually government, we all may to at some point. So sad.

Addendum: And another:

It’s frightening that so many young people seem to be making their way through Dartmouth believing the following fallacies: 1) That language equals violence; 2) That it’s never OK to criticize a person of color or a gay person, no matter how warranted; 3) That the USA, so rich and so full of opportunities, especially for Ivy League graduates, is nothing but a massive system of oppression leaving only victims in its wake.

Are these kids not getting any guidance from their professors and parents?

As for the issue of Trips leaders, all the directors have to do is release the demographics of the applicant pool to settle this matter once and for all.

As it stands now, it certainly looks like many Dartmouth undergrads believe not in meritocracy but in revenge. In their insistence on the primacy of group membership and not the individual, they have much in common with Maoists. They are heading down a dangerous path.

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