Vice-Provost Inge-Lise Ameer is leaving the College after a restructuring of the College’s bureaucracy. Her responsibilities as Vice-Provost of Student Affairs will be subsumed by the Dean of the College, an arrangement which was standard up until 2 years ago, when the position of Vice-Provost of Student Affairs was created to separate the academic and non-academic services the College offers to students. Ameer is not being offered a new position at the College and will cease to be employed at Dartmouth once the restructuring takes place. When asked to comment as to whether Ameer resigned voluntarily, Provost Carolyn Dever refused to say whether she had been fired or had resigned.
Ameer was notorious on campus for her crackdown on fraternities and her role as the enforcer of Moving Dartmouth Forward, as well as her controversial response to a circle of aggrieved protesters: “…there is a whole conservative world out there that isn’t very nice.” The Review certainly wishes Ms. Ameer the best – wherever she may end up. That being said, her removal is undoubtedly a positive step for the college – it will be a better place with her fingers off the levers of power.
Her legacy is unfortunately not a positive one; she has presided over an attack on the fraternity system and a far-left administrative culture. We hope that her departure will signal a shift towards an administration more in tune with the needs of the student body.
Inge-Lise Ameer first arrived at Dartmouth College in 2010. Her journey, a $33 dollar Dartmouth Coach ride from Harvard, would go on to have huge implications for Dartmouth. Ms. Ameer had previously served as Director of Advising programs at Harvard, where she had also attended school (she earned her Masters and PH.Ds at the University, earning her undergraduate degree at Beloit College in Wisconsin). In Cambridge, she was apparently quite well-liked. A Harvard Crimson article, published upon her leaving, espoused her many achievements. Such achievements included the launch of a streamlined student advising portal for freshmen, (in her words, “one of the best days ever”) and the implementation of a paid prefect system which was designed to encourage more diversity within the program. Her former boss, Benedict H. Gross, summed it up by saying, “She knows what works, and has the skill to make it happen. Dartmouth is lucky to be getting her.”
Here in Hanover, too, Ms. Ameer has been very well liked personally, and even professionally by some. Certain Dartmouth undergraduates profess that she is “very nice” and “a solid ally on campus.”
At the College, Ameer had a busy and public tenure, climbing through the ranks of Dartmouth’s vast bureaucracy from Associate Dean to the newly-created Vice-Provost for Student Affairs. As Associate Dean, Ameer oversaw academic support services, a number of departments linked to student life (such as OPAL) and the synergistic cooperation between Student Affairs staff members and faculty.
Following her promotion to Interim Dean of the College for 2014-15, she had a heavy hand in implementing the program, Moving Dartmouth Forward and enforcing Hanlon’s writ on the fraternity system. After another promotion to Vice-Provost, she gained further control over the Center for Service and the Tucker Center. Through and through, former Vice Provost Ameer worked to, in the words of the Office of Student Affairs, “support the undergraduate experience at all levels,” and “promote diversity and inclusion,” among undergraduates. Among the College’s Mandarin class, then, Ameer had apparently enjoyed their confidence and support.
One of Ameer’s most high-profile actions on campus came in the wake of the well-known Black Lives Matter Library Incident in November of 2015. The episode, which occurred in First Floor Berry in the midst of exams, included chants, signs, a flurry of racial epithets and even personal threats aimed at the students who chose to study rather than join in.
Multiple students alleged violence on the part of the protestors. The eruption in the library was even likely criminal because, according to reports at the time, its perpetrators used “fighting words” (see Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire) such as “F*** you, you filthy white f***s!,” “F*** you, you racist s***!,” etc. and also “pushed and shoved” those who were not in full agreement.
Ameer, as a ranking administrator in student affairs sworn to “promote diversity and inclusion,” responded quickly and decisively. Contrary to what one might expect, however, instead of offering support to those students traumatized during the library invasion – some reports included a female student in tears – Ameer decided to meet and comfort the protesters themselves!
A few days later, she spoke to a diverse and inclusive echo chamber of campus radicals. In the mixed-up worldview of Ameer, the protest was “a wonderful, beautiful thing.” At same meeting, Ameer famously reminded attendees that “There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice,” to which she received laughter and applause. (The full video is available on The Review’s YouTube channel).
Following the commensurate outrage on Yik Yak (an anonymous comment-based app) and other outlets, Ameer apologized, writing in a letter to the editor at The Dartmouth that she “said something completely off-base regarding Americans with conservative political views.” “To my discredit,” she continued, “I suggested they are not nice people. For this, I offer an unequivocal apology.”
This apology did little to quell the outrage among College alumni, who were not at all discreet in voicing their displeasure and in withholding donations. It is perhaps partially because of the influence of disaffected alumni that Ameer is leaving the College, although there is as of yet no proof of this. In any case, her conduct in the library incident received national recognition because various conservative news outlets reported on the subject.
Ameer also presided over the derecognition of the Alpha Delta fraternity, the derecognition of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and the much more aggressive policing of the fraternities as a result of the Moving Dartmouth Forward Initiative, much of which she was charged with implementing. She is also remembered for her decision to re-introduce the College policy prohibiting students from living at derecognized Greek organizations – a decision that forced students living in AD to move out in the middle of the term.
Ameer has also enforced the hard alcohol ban and presided over the introduction of the EW House System at Dartmouth, which continues to be a massive black hole in terms of funding and a massive flop in terms of student participation. However, it is her persistent attack on fraternities in particular that has caused much of Dartmouth to lose confidence in her leadership – there is a certain fundamental unfairness about the severity and the rigidity of the College’s policies under Ameer.
Does Ameer’s departure signal a new direction? Is the College changing its course? It is, of course, too early to tell, but at least this is a step in the right direction. Perhaps the alumni are beginning to assert themselves. The College should make use of this opportunity to further clean house.