A Letter to The President of Dartmouth College


Do not ask what you have done that I choose to write this letter, for you have done nothing. I merely seek to illuminate the root cause behind a few shameful incidents and public stains that have marred your otherwise inoffensive presidency of this institution which we both love so dearly.

When I first came to Dartmouth in 2013, I walked the campus paths with unbridled faith in my fellow students. I looked up at the shining white bricks of Dartmouth Row with respect for this institution and a vision bounded only by the impossibility of failure. I witnessed a vain hope that you would reverse two decades of hostile and incompetent administrations, bringing reason and rejuvenation to Dartmouth like President Hopkins did a century ago.

Only three years later, everything has changed. Suspicion now characterizes students’ daily interactions with their peers. Faculty, students, alumni, and even some administrators now constantly express distrust, dissatisfaction, and anger with the Dartmouth Administration. Every ideological facet of this community takes issue with some aspect of your policy, and many have begun to call for a faculty or student body vote of no confidence. Rather than engage in speculation about your motives, I will enumerate the truth as it stands. It is a long history of abuses, of injuries, of usurpations, and of failure.

You distained the opinions of substantial segments of the student body when making important decisions. Your focus groups, committees, and working groups have consistently excluded affiliated students, non-minority students, moderates, and conservatives.

You have expanded the number of non-faculty employees to far beyond the limits of reason, let alone the proportions set by our peer institutions.

You have broken your promise to limit tuition increases.

You have re-instituted a ban on the harder spirits that first gave Dartmouth its reputation for binge drinking during Eleazar Wheelock’s tenure and later made it the “Cuba of the North” during Prohibition.

You have treated Greek houses, particularly fraternities, with open hostility. You have ignored their rights and disregarded the truth in order to improve your own public image.

You have attempted to systematically undermine the social role of fraternities. To this end, you have: restructured policy to fabricate violations, circumvented all reasonable tenants of due process, instituted unconscionable penalties, deprived students of their right of association, spent exorbitant sums on a housing system without student support, and sided with enemies of the College.

You have failed to apply disciplinary measures in a uniform manner, letting politics and national public opinion dictate penalties for students who violate College policy.

You have mistreated our faculty and shown contempt for their opinions, ideas, and wishes.

You have attempted to redefine our College’s focus from undergraduate education to research in a manner fitting to a large state university and not the small college we all love.

You have fired and transferred top administrators without explanation.

You have ignored popular student petitions until public pressure forced you to take action. You have subsequently failed to directly address their pleas and have treated student leaders with apathy and disrespect.

You have erected a multitude of new administrative offices and have sent out swarms of officers to harass the student and faculty.

In summary, you have served as a conduit for the interests of others and allowed them to run roughshod over our traditions, prestige, and spirit. I do not believe that you assumed this presidency with the intent to hurt your alma mater. I am not under the illusion that you, personally, have carried out every crime enumerated here. It is clear that you have not taken action to support or attack any one faction or camp.  What you have done is allowed public opinion, the Board of Trustees, and myriad lesser administrators to dictate every aspect of student life.

You seek to emulate the late Dartmouth President John George Kemény, but you fail to comprehend the defining aspect of his administration. Although I have no great reason to love President Kemény (I disagree with many of the decisions he made as President), I respect his dedication to Dartmouth, its faculty, and its students. You are an ambitious and intelligent man, there is no denying that. You could not have risen to the Presidency of Dartmouth College if you were not. Unfortunately, it is your lack of vision, of passion, of love for this College that has come to define your presidency.

You have done nothing, President Hanlon, because you stand for nothing. It is time that we, as a community, come together to express our concerns in a formal and unambiguous manner. Since the many students and faculty members who talk privately of a vote of no confidence are afraid to stand up to you, The Dartmouth Review will stand for them. Now that the issue is in the open, let us debate it. Respond, and allay my concerns. I am waiting.

Dartmouth Motto

We must revive the traditions that once made Dartmouth great.