Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Old News

We know that it is last week's news, but we just have to comment on the disgraceful abolition of the Speech program at Dartmouth -- which, by the way, is in direct contravention to a 1979 Trustee Directive to maintain the program, and in absolute indifference to student demand.

It is a perfect example of the Dartmouth administration's tin ear. The speech courses at Dartmouth are rigorous, demanding, and interdisciplinary, featuring rhetorical theory and practice. If students at Dartmouth are required to take course in order to write cogently, they should be required to take courses in order to speak with the same clarity and persuasiveness.

As a grateful student of Professor Kuypers's, I could not be more disgusted with the Deans of Faculty. His class has impacted my post-graduate scholarship and my professional life more profoundly than any other course that I took at Dartmouth. The constant waitlists for his courses indicate that other students feel the same way.

Most importantly, the "vocational" and "technical" excuse is just insulting. Is Dartmouth's Education Department not vocational? Is engineering not technical? Speech and rhetoric features theory, history, and critical reading. It is not just a matter of "public speaking," which, by the way, is NOT taught indirectly in other classes at Dartmouth. In fact, a number of Dartmouth professors could benefit from a speech class or two.

This leads me to the thought that the College may have targeted Kuypers for other reasons: namely, his mentorship of conservative organizations on the Dartmouth campus and his academic expertise on presidential oratory, especially that of Ronald Reagan. Virginia Tech obviously knows what a prize he is.

To eliminate this storied department citing lack of funding -- only to hire a Director of Sustainability the next week -- is unspeakable. It's enough to want me to take my Dartmouth diplomas off the wall.

ROLLING IN THEIR GRAVES: Oh, never mind that Dartmouth College still offers the Benjamin F. Barge Prize for Oratory Speech and The Class of 1866 Oratorical Prize. Never mind that the nation's greatest orator, Daniel Webster, hailed from Dartmouth - no thanks to Lenore Grenoble and Carol Folt.