A Differing View

Not everyone is on the T.J. Rodgers bandwagon, it seems. The below comes from Ken Dahl, a ’68 and father of my roommate during my senior year. He asked that I post it, and I figured, what better way to inaugurate the election of a free speech advocate?

There was a link in TDR’s Dartlog.net to a piece in AgapePress, which included the following paragraph about T.J. Rodgers ’70, the new insurgent trustee of Dartmouth:

>The Cypress CEO says when he was at Dartmouth, there were fairly conservative-reigning views on campus, and Vietnam War demonstrators were in the minority. But now, he says, there are “all kinds of attacks” on dissenting views — “and in today’s world, they happen to be conservative dissenting views against liberal, majority views,” he says.< This claim by Rodgers utterly discredits him in my mind. He’s just palpably wrong about Vietnam War demonstrators being in the minority. I was there. You should know that I am a ’68 who dropped out and then graduated in 1970. Before I dropped out in March, 1968, I had already seen very visible anti-war activity, and I am certain that anti-war sentiment was embraced by at least half the student body. I dropped back in in January, 1970, and that winter term was marked by a peace vigil every Wednesday (as I recall) noon, stretching across the Green from McNutt to Dartmouth Hall, numbering as many as 100 on less cold days, and never fewer than perhaps 30 on quite cold days. I know, for I was always among them. Spring term, 1970, anti-war sentiment exploded on the Hanover Plain, with Nixon’s so-called incursion into Cambodia. The campus was electrified and mobilized, as were the other Ivy League campuses. How do I know that it was an overwhelming majority of the student body that were so convulsed? Because one day a mass meeting was called by the campus peace movement for the same evening in the Top of the Hop. All day long, there were rumblings that a student strike (already an accomplished fact at some other campuses) would ensue at that meeting . . . you heard this everywhere: in Thayer, in Hinman P.O., coming out of classes. And I heard it with ease, even though I was a ’68 and not really plugged into any social circles anymore. Again, what proof is this that an overwhelming majority of the student body was aroused? Because President John Kemeny, as subtle and pre-emptive at politics as he was at math, stole our thunder by closing down the college, before we could. He just closed Dartmouth down, more or less for the duration. No more classes–just, as he urged us, pay attention to our national crisis. I forget exactly how and when the details were sorted out, but after a week or so, professors were told to resume holding classes, but classes were now optional. Some large minority went back to class, but the majority accepted the asterisks on our transcript that were offered to any and all who claimed them–attesting that, by vote of the faculty, asterisked courses were ungraded but complete for purposes of course credit. As with many people, I split the difference, taking asterisks in a belated science distrib and one required course for my major, but finishing my govy honors thesis for a grade. Meanwhile, a large fraction (maybe 10% or 15%) of the student body (including me) worked through term’s end (and some in Wash., D.C. through the summer) against Nixon’s War. The principal vehicle at Dartmouth was Continuing Presence in Washington (working out of Silsby Hall and out of an office in Wash., D.C., to which student activists brought a computer terminal hooked up by phone line to Kiewit, with Kemeny’s blessing) and at Princeton it was the Movement for a New Congress. Both Dartmouth and Princeton got prominent play for this in the newsweeklies and on network news–as leaders in the nationwide anti-war movement. If anyone doubts my account, just go to Rauner and read May, 1970 copies of the Daily D. So where was T.J. Rodgers ’70 in this flaming spring of his senior year? Playing pong? And does he have any asterisks on his transcript for his senior spring? And don’t forget: plenty of conservatives opposed LBJ’s war in Vietnam, just as plenty of liberals (like me) support Bush’s war in Iraq. And plenty of liberals like Hubert Humphrey and LBJ and JFK supported the war in Vietnam, just as some conservatives like John McCain are moving towards opposition to the Iraq War. Ken Dahl ’68