Dartmouth faculty backs protesters

They don’t seem to agree with President Hanlon

After Dartmouth president Phil Hanlon vowed to punish students involved in the library disturbance, members of the faculty have taken a different view. 

A message to the Dartmouth community signed by more than a hundred staff members and also addressed to Hanlon and the board of trustee says “We have arrived at a moment of great opportunity thanks to the work of activist movements like #blacklivesmatter and students”.

The message, which refers to numerous reports about systemic racism at Dartmouth, invites more faculty members to add their names. At the time of writing the letter has 121 names. (The letter’s instigators will be keen to avoid a repeat of this story at Princeton).

We will have to wait to see the fallout from Hanlon’s comments and today’s faculty message, but it looks like there is disagreement among the elders of our university.

Here is the letter in full:

Dear Chairman Helman, President Hanlon, Provost Dever, and Members of the Dartmouth Community,

We write in support of and in solidarity with Dartmouth’s students, especially students of color, who are at the forefront of college discussions about racism and inequality.  For several years, Dartmouth’s students have fostered conversation and action about structural racism in higher education – interventions that have captured media attention and inspired America.  Since 1968, the College has generated at least six major reports outlining structural inequality on campus and making concrete suggestions for improvement.  And yet, substantive change has not resulted in a campus where all students can thrive.  It is clear that these issues have been central to the experience of many of our students, faculty, and staff for decades.

We have arrived at a moment of great opportunity thanks to the work of activist movements like #blacklivesmatter and students, faculty, administrators, and alumni from Dartmouth and peer institutions.  We note with cautious optimism the steps the administration has taken in response to student activism in 2013, which culminated in the student occupation of Parkhurst and the introduction of the Freedom Budget in 2014.  But we join the students in calling on Dartmouth’s administration and Board of Trustees to lead peer institutions like Brown, Columbia, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale, which have made substantial new financial commitments of as much as $100 million, especially toward recruitment and retention of tenure-track faculty and students of color.  At this historic moment, when college and university administrators around the country are recognizing that half measures and incomplete commitments threaten the thriving intellectual spaces fundamental to the university, we call on Dartmouth to commit substantial financial and personnel resources to address structural inequality and institutional barriers for success.  After all, our history uniquely positions us to lead these efforts.

Dartmouth must be a place for all students to thrive, regardless of race, socioeconomic class, gender, and sexual orientation.  As our students and students across the country have shown, the future of higher education is at a crossroads.  It is time for Dartmouth to follow the promise of Moving Dartmouth Forward and seize the opportunity to lead this movement.