Politics & Policy

Dartmouth Responds to Student Threats

Citing initiatives already in place the Ivy League school tries to placate anonymous students who threatened “physical action.”

Correction: This piece stated that Dartmouth’s actions were done to placate an anonymous student group. In reality, Dartmouth’s plans to spend $31 million dollars to increase diversity, to increase funding for students on financial aid, and to expand the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics support for minority students were made before demands were issued by the anonymous students. The Dartmouth administration discussed those initiatives in order to demonstrate the ways in which it was already addressing student concerns. I apologize to Dartmouth and to our readers. Further details are on the Corner.

Having been threatened with “physical action” by an unknown number of anonymous students if it did not respond to a list of more than 120 demands, the Dartmouth administration promptly surrendered last week and is planning on spending at least $31 million to satisfy the students’ will.

College President Phil Hanlon and Provost Martin Wybourne made a statement last Thursday in response to the so-called “Freedom Budget” — the eight-page letter and list of demands made by the anonymous students – saying, “Diversity is one of the cornerstones of our academic community and, like you, we want Dartmouth to be a campus where our students gain the confidence and skills to work and lead in a global society.”#ad#

The initial student letter called for greater diversity in the faculty and post-doctoral program as well as an increase in enrollment for Black, Latino, and Native American students to 10 percent of the student population each. The anonymous students also demanded that all students be required to take classes on “social justice” and “marginalization,” that gender-neutral housing be available for all students, and that restrictions on the use of the term “illegal immigrants” be imposed.

In response to the demands for racial quotas, Dartmouth plans to allocate $1 million to hire faculty “who bring diverse perspectives to campus.” Another $30 million will also be spent to bring in more minorities for the post-doctorate program.

The college also promised to provide funds for financial aid students to participate in off-campus programs, will expand the E.E. Just program to support the academic success of minority students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and promised to “do more.”

As of June 30, 2013, Dartmouth’s endowment was valued at $3.7 billion. The $31 million the college plans to devote to diversity programs comes to less than 1 percent of the endowment.

The administration announced its response to the threatening demands immediately before finals began, prompting a critique from the Dartmouth Student assembly.

“Students don’t have any time during our ridiculous two-day reading period to respond,” the Student Body President Adrian Ferrari wrote in an email sent to students. “Even if we did, what avenues are available to voice that opinion? We can’t comment on the article [announcing the administration’s intent] because there literally isn’t a mechanism for commenting on Dartmouth Now.”

Ferrari then offered to compile statements from students in support and opposition to the “Freedom Budget” to present to the faculty.

Dartmouth’s president and provost wrote that “we will continue to host and support forums that welcome all ideas with open-minded consideration and respectful dialogue — in a way that does not disrupt campus activities — and provide everyone a voice and a chance to be heard.” They then announced a host of actions — including not only the $31 million expenditure but also expanded financial aid and efforts to get “under-represented” students into harder science programs — in order to appease the anonymous and threatening mob.

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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