Hanlon Convenes Campus

President Hanlon convenes campus leaders at Dartmouth Hall.

President Hanlon convenes campus leaders at Dartmouth Hall.

In the evening of April 16, President Phil Hanlon convened select students, administrators, and alumni for a discussion about social reform on Dartmouth’s campus. Entitled “Moving Dartmouth Forward,” the summit focused on “generating ideas and evaluating steps” that will improve student life at the College and combat “high-risk and harmful behaviors.”

Although attendance at the event was by invitation only, over 120 community leaders participated in the two-hour forum. Shortly after 8:00 PM, President Hanlon kicked off the night’s activities with his keynote address that highlighted steps his administration was taking to reduce hazing, racism, and sexism in Hanover.

Early in his remarks, he noted that “Dartmouth’s promise [was] being hijacked by extreme and harmful behaviors” and suggested that the destructive tendencies of a few students were dividing the College and damaging its reputation. He also linked the recent 14% drop in undergraduate applications and the ongoing Title IX investigation to Dartmouth’s problems with binge drinking, sexual assault, and exclusion in campus social spaces. To help resolve these issues in a proactive and inclusive way, he announced the creation of a presidential steering committee that would examine key areas of change and present its findings to the Board of Trustees in November.

Trustee Laurel Richie ’81 spoke next, echoing President Hanlon’s calls for a more inclusive Dartmouth and noting that many of problems she faced as a student in the early 1980s were still present today. She suggested that the process of change and improvement needed to be inclusive and that it was important for the leaders in the room to “bridge the gap with those who rose their voice in protest” earlier this month.

After similar remarks from Professor Rebecca Biron and the founder of Dartmouth Roots, Esteban Castano ’14, attendees divided into smaller groups for a series of break-out sessions and brainstorming activities. Although these discussions were closed to the press, The Dartmouth Review spoke with a number of participants who used words like “inspiring” and “constructive” to describe the nature of these side conversations.

Upon completing the planned exercises, attendees reconvened in Dartmouth 105 for concluding remarks from trustee Jeffrey Immelt ’78. After reflecting on his time at the College and what it has meant for him in his life after graduation, he articulated the need for Dartmouth to develop a healthier culture and pursue a breed of educational and social excellence that was unique to the 21st Century.

The summit was organized by Dartmouth Roots, a student-organization that works with the College administration to implement ideas and promote positive change around campus. They began planning the event months in advance and expressed hope that this would be “the first of many conversations” in an ongoing effort to make Dartmouth a better place.

For its part, The Dartmouth Review has enjoyed participating the conversation thus far and eagerly awaits the opportunity to contribute many of its own proposals to the campus discussion.