Administration: no merit to a potential lawsuit

Here is the email Dean Zimmerman sent out following the Sunday meeting with the former students of Priya Venkatesan. The blitz, below the fold.

Date: 28 Apr 2008 09:29:08 -0400
From: Gail M. Zimmerman
Subject: Meeting summary
Cc: (Thomas H. Cormen), Daniel M. Nelson, Thomas Crady, Robert B. Donin, Kevin D. O’Leary, Susan E. Knapp

Dear Students,

Thanks to all of you who were able to attend yesterday’s meeting. For those of you who were not able to attend, below is a summary of the key points. I, and the other deans in the First-Year Office, remain available to meet with any of you on an individual basis and/or to talk with your parents. Please don’t hesitate to share this information with your parents.

The most significant concern was related to the legal issues raised by former Prof. Venkatesan’s emails. Robert Donin, Dartmouth’s General Counsel, was present at yesterday’s meeting. He advises that we do not believe there is any merit to a potential lawsuit and he does not feel it necessary for students to retain their own legal counsel at this time. Any lawsuit received by the College would be responded to by Dartmouth’s legal counsel. There has been no such action thus far. Students and parents should feel free to contact Dartmouth’s General Counsel if there are individual concerns. They can be reached at:
Office of the General Counsel
Dartmouth College
14 South Main Street
Suite 2C
Hanover, New Hampshire 03755
Telephone: (603) 646-2444

Most of you have seen and/or heard that the Dartmouth Review and The Dartmouth have articles and blogs about the emails that you have received. There interest and publication may result in other media becoming interested as well. Should you be approached by any media for comment, you are certainly free to talk. Our advice would be, if you choose to do so, do so judiciously and/or with caution. You should also know that you are under no obligation to respond at all and this may be the best approach. Our Public Affairs Office is happy to advise you on your rights when responding to media requests. Sue Knapp, Stephen Smith, and Roland Adams are familiar with this situation. They can be reached at:
Office of Public Affairs
Office Address: 7 Lebanon St., Suite 201, Hanover, NH 03755
Telephone: (603) 646-3661

Questions arose as to our ability to block Prof. Venkatesan’s emails. Whether that ability exists or not, it would not likely stop her emails from reaching your inbox given the dearth and ready availability of other free email systems such as hotmail, gmail, and yahoo. If these emails are distressing, please don’t hesitate to forward them to me unopened. I would request you to forward any emails to me regardless of whether you read them or not so that I can be apprised of and assess how best to respond and support you.

Again, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the first-year deans with concerns or questions.

Take care,
Dean Z

Gail M. Zimmerman, Ed.D.
Dean of First-Year Students
Dartmouth College
6007 Parkhurst
Hanover, NH 03755