A Vote of No Confidence

As Daniel Webster stated in the legendary 1819 Supreme Court case of Dartmouth College vs. Wentworth, “It is, sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it!” Since the College’s early days, Webster’s words have defined the institution, resulting in its status as one of the most tight-knit, effective, and reputable intuitions of higher learning in the entire world. However, nearly 250 years later, President Hanlon stands to flout Webster’s words and change the very core of the College for the worse. I have long held that Dartmouth is a failing institution. However, with the decision to expand the size of the College and destroy its central mission of intimate undergraduate education, Dartmouth will no longer be a failing institution; it will be a failed institution. And that is why I wholeheartedly believe that the faculty of Dartmouth College should launch a vote of no confidence against President Philip J. Hanlon.

President Hanlon’s failures began long before I matriculated at the College, but the effects are still felt. He set the tone for his administration – the tone being general apathy towards undergraduates – as early as the Parkhurst Freedom Budget protests, where he neither gave in to the demands of the protestors, nor condemned their misdeeds. His actions proved to be very telling for the future of his administration and the shape of things to come.

In my three and a half years at the College, President Hanlon’s policies have done nothing to effect any substantial change; change which has occurred has, predominantly, been negative. The majority of my freshman year, the prevailing topic of the times was the Greek system and the looming Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative. While it seems like ancient history today, in 2014, it was the talk of the town; in the fall of my freshman year, it seemed like the Greek system was all but gone. When the initiative made its recommendations in the winter of 2015 – based off spotty data and skewed perspectives – the effects were ultimately not so significant. The Greek system still survives, though in a state far inferior to what it used to be. Alas, we would never know; but anyone would tell you that nobody rages anymore. And reports suggest that the sons and daughters of Dartmouth – freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior – still consume hard alcohol on a regular basis.

The major events of my sophomore year included the now-infamous library protests in the fall of 2015 and the controversy surrounding the defacement of a National Police Week board in the Collis Center in the spring of 2016. Both incidents drew national attention, resulting in condemnation of the offending forces from all sides – except from the College’s administration. President Hanlon’s emails – which have always been, and continue to be, weak – neither mitigated tensions nor heightened them. As such, tensions between the student body have only increased since. The controversy over former professor Aimee Bahng’s tenure denial only served to cause even more dissatisfaction.

My junior year displayed this trend even further. Following the election of President Trump in November of 2016, the administration’s response was both problematic and lackluster – while offering emotional support to students who were upset at Donald Trump’s victory, Hanlon’s administration also failed to give in to the demands of leftist calls for Dartmouth to become a sanctuary campus. Though in this case, his response has been for the better, it still reveals a troubling fact: President Hanlon does not, has not, and never will care for the undergraduate students of the College. In the spring of 2017, he once again proved his inept nature with the controversial appointment of Professor N. Bruce Duthu for the post of Dean of the Faculty. Duthu, who was widely seen as unqualified for the job, ultimately declined his nomination, constituting yet another loss for the Hanlon administration.

Now, Hanlon’s plans to destroy College Park in favor of new dorms, in addition to his plans to expand the size of the student body, threaten to destroy the core of the institution he has so ineptly led since 2013. These ideas are wildly unpopular and benefit absolutely no one. Why, then, would these changes possibly be enacted? If there is an answer, it might benefit the administration to spread the message. Or, perhaps, there simply is no answer, and the reason is simply because President Hanlon is a poor leader. In his four and a half years as a member of the Wheelock Succession, President Hanlon has accomplished nothing, and is now poised to destroy the College we all know and love. At the same time, he has proved himself ineffective, incompetent, and inept; he is simply unfit to continue serving as the President of Dartmouth College. It is time for the damage to end. It is time for a vote of no confidence.

  • Sidney Goldman

    Although I’ve never been a fan of the Review I must agree with the author. Who among the Board of Trustees will be the first to disclose the emperor’s naked ineptitude? If one steps forward the others may well follow. Sid Goldman ’60 President Dartmouth Club of the Florida Keys.