Voices in the Wilderness

A forum for discussion of all things Dartmouth.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Why Dartmouth Doesn't Get It

Dartmouth's General Counsel, Robert Donin, responds to the Rich Roberts op-ed and the speech code situation. It's just spin and blather, but its final paragraph actually made me feel nauseated:

One other thought about speech at Dartmouth: it is a shame that an isolated incident which occurred four years ago continues to obscure the robust, unfettered and wide-ranging debate that flourishes here daily. Within just the past six months, the list of campus speakers has included J.C. Watts and Daniel Pipes, with Dinesh D'Souza scheduled to visit in May -- hardly a pantheon of political correctness. A Dickey Center program last week featured pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian speakers. Student publications and political organizations of every stripe are thriving. The marketplace of ideas seems to be doing a brisk business. To suggest that the atmosphere here is repressive is to ignore reality.

WOW! On a campus where there are a number of featured speakers on any given DAY, Donin is pround that a whopping THREE conservative speakers have been scheduled to speak on campus in just SIX MONTHS!

"Hardly a pantheon of political correctness"?!? First, the term "hardly a pantheon" derides the quality of the three speakers who have agreed to speak at Dartmouth. They are a pantheon of refreshing thinkers! Second, I've never been sure why a conservative-leaning speaker is automatically equated with being politically incorrect. Aren't many liberals like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher also "politically incorrect?" It's a snide term that is normally used to describe the cartoon "South Park," and shouldn't be directed at a former member of Congress and leader in the United States House of Representatives. When you think that this U.S. Representative was also an African-American pioneer within that elected body, Donin's comment comes across as not only rude, but cruel.

Next: having both pro-Palestinian AND pro-Israel speakers on a panel?! Donin says this like it is a novelty, and as though it is somehow a gesture of generosity to include two points of view. Um, news to Robert Donin -- this should be de rigueur at the College you are paid to represent.

This attitude of sarcasm, intolerance, and tokenism shows that Donin -- and the Dartmouth establishment -- just doesn't get it.

With this paragraph, Donin implies that the College is actually going out of its way to present more than one side to an issue, and insinuates that this is somehow more than is normally expected or required. That's scary. The fact that Donin has to point to this token effort, and that he does so with a bizarre, inflated pride, reveals just how out of touch Dartmouth College really is.

Speech codes may not officially exist on paper at Dartmouth, as the College contends, but they are undeniably entrenched in the administrative mentality. That's where this fight must be fought.