March 24, 2014
Dear students, faculty and staff:
Welcome back to the spring term. Tolstoy described spring as "the time of plans and projects." Indeed, across campus, there is much underway and more yet to discuss in the months ahead. As we make our plans for strengthening Dartmouth, I want to offer a word about why the tone of our discussion is so important.
Because we are a close-knit community, it is vital that we have a respectful dialogue about the things that are of importance to us. Free and open debate is the lifeblood of any academic institution, and there are numerous positive examples where we excel, such as the campus-wide collaboration on Improve Dartmouth, or in Moving Dartmouth Forward discussions. Unfortunately, there also are examples of words and deeds that undermine our community. Incidents like last summer's "Blood and Crips party" or abusive postings on Bored@Baker are divisive, hurtful, and unacceptable.
As mentioned by Board of Trustees Chair Steve Mandel '78 in his message last week, it is time to start the discussion about what are acceptable social norms and how we hold ourselves accountable when we violate community standards. For such a conversation to be productive, it is essential that we strive for inclusiveness and respect in both the ways we behave and communicate. I call on all of us to amplify our passion for the challenges and opportunities ahead into something even more powerful by welcoming ideas--especially ones we may not agree with--with open-minded consideration, constructive input, and a healthy, vibrant dialogue. And as we express our ideas and opinions, we have the responsibility to do so with respect, in ways that do not hinder or interfere with the work and activities of others.
Spring allows us to see the world with fresh eyes. This spring, let's see our campus as it is when we are at our best--a welcoming, supportive community of learners. Just as importantly, let's embrace that kind of positivity in an ongoing dialogue that will keep it that way. I wish everyone a productive term.
Phil Hanlon '77
Last Updated: 3/24/14