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Dartmouth News
>  News Releases >   2003 >   February

Rushing the gates from within

Posted 02/14/03, by Michelle Chin '03 and James Donnelly


Hollander '03 works to encourage diversity on campus
Encouraging diversity on campus is a full-time job

As a self-identified "privileged white male," Jonathan Hollander '03, from Newton, Mass., defies expectations as a champion of diversity among students at Dartmouth. Dichotomies seem to be Hollander's specialty—a Jew in the Gospel Choir; a straight ally of Dartmouth's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; a diversity peer from a mainstream background. Crossing boundaries for Hollander is a full-time job.

"I believe diversity as a buzzword has little meaning," he says. "It's about people with different experiences being legitimized for their differences. People have different realities. It's not about imposing your world view on other people, but rather learning to understand someone else's perspective."

Hollander considers himself an ally above all else. He believes his position as a member of the cultural mainstream is a strength rather than a weakness in approaching diversity-related issues. "Being an ally means there is some space between myself and the issue. I am not taking on an identity and making myself available as a target," he says.

One group in which Hollander has been particularly active is the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), a group dedicated to providing a bridge between the LGBT and straight communities at Dartmouth. Hollander has been a leader in the organization since the fall of 1999, soon after he arrived at Dartmouth. Since then, he has been involved every term as a co-chair or meeting facilitator.

"Jon has been one of several key individuals over the last three years in opening dialogue on campus about LGBT issues," says Pam Misener, assistant dean of student life and advisor to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. "We've been extraordinarily lucky to have him, and Dartmouth is a more welcoming place for the contributions he's made."

Hollander has also found time to be active in a broad range of activities and organizations concerned with social justice issues. In the past three years, he has participated in the Leadership Discovery Program, Diversity Peer Program, Diversity Affairs Committee for Student Assembly, Dartmouth GSA, and the Men's Project. He has also been a part of Tucker Foundation leadership training and, in his sophomore year, addressed the incoming class of 2004 about his experience with diversity on campus.

Hollander notes he is not alone in his work to encourage diversity at Dartmouth. He credits the Diversity Peer Program (DPP), a network of students committed to diversity who participate in awareness building and activist training, as a key support and evidence of a groundswell of activism on campus.

He says through his Dartmouth experience and training with groups like DPP, he has developed better skills for promoting ideas about which he cares passionately.

"I am doing what I can with who I am," he concludes. "I try to understand rather than react to things. I try to open a dialogue. I think that's the way you get things done."

- Michelle Chin '03 and James Donnelly

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