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Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Carol L. Folt
November 29, 2006
I look out today at a sea of faces that includes many friends-colleagues and students-and so many others, who care deeply about Dartmouth. Your presence here so heartening and you remind me why we all chose to be at Dartmouth. We all came to Dartmouth to be part of something bigger than each of us, to be a part of community where the love of learning is celebrated, a place where new ideas are welcomed, where we learn as much from each other as we ever learn from books, and where we learn from the mistakes of the past to build a better tomorrow.
This rally is a testimony to the power of a community that wants to do better. I thank the student organizers for arranging it, and all the other students, faculty, staff and members of the community who worked so hard in the last weeks to bring our campus together, in respect and tolerance. Your faculty know how hard it is for students, especially at this point in the term, just a couple of days before finals, to give so much of their time working for the good of the entire campus. We thank you for that.
Speaking on behalf or the faculty today, I have a few important things to share with you. We care deeply about our students, and our community. We came here to work with you, to teach you, to celebrate your victories with you, and most importantly of all-to learn from you and with you. It saddens us when any of you feel alienated, unwelcome, disrespected or silenced. That reduces the quality of life for everyone in our community. It also saddens us that these issues of the past are still with us today. But, we know it is hard to solve the underlying problems that lead to disrespect, and we are determined to play our part in helping to do just that.
Issues of respect, open mindedness, inclusion, cultural understanding and reasoned debate are not just the issues we at Dartmouth face today-they are fundamental issues in the wider world. Facing such issues has always been central to Dartmouth's liberal arts tradition. In his 1946 convocation address, Dartmouth President John Dickey opened the academic year by reminding students that "the world's problems are your problems."
As I look out across the green today, I know the faculty would want me to say that we care about every individual at Dartmouth, and that we have the power, the resolve, and the responsibility to take on these intractable problems. We can work to improve the way the way individuals are treated and the way debate is conducted. If we do so, we will improve the climate for learning, living and understanding for everyone here at Dartmouth
As much as we do care though, as faculty we do not know always know what is going on outside our classrooms and in your lives. The more we know, the more effective we can be, so I ask you to reach out to your faculty and to other friends on campus; let them know what issues are important to you, and how they can help. I have been told that many students, staff and faculty feel they are "guests" on the Dartmouth campus. This is the moment for us to extend our community so that no one feels like a guest in someone else's home.
The great Nelson Mandela once said that goodness and forgiveness are more important than anger. "You have a limited time to stay on Earth. You must try and use that period to transform your world into what you desire it to be."
The faculty and I look forward to working with all of you to accomplish that goal.