April 2nd, 2014
Dear members of the Dartmouth community,
Yesterday afternoon, a small group of students in support of a "Freedom Budget" attended my regularly scheduled office hours to advocate for their petition calling for greater inclusiveness on campus.
This meeting has turned into an overnight "sit-in" protest in my office. Their grievance, in short, is that they don't feel like Dartmouth is fostering a welcoming environment.
I met with these students yesterday and again today, and I deeply empathize with them.
I made it clear, however, that meaningful change is hard work. Progress cannot be achieved through threats and demands. Disrupting the work of others is counter-productive. Academic communities rest on a foundation of collaboration and open dialogue informed by respectful debate among multiple voices.
As I've said on many occasions, I personally believe that in today's global society, cultural awareness and an appreciation of diverse perspectives are critical for success.
I informed the students we will undertake a campus-wide climate survey, as recommended earlier by the Committee on Student Safety and Accountability made up of faculty, students, and staff.
We also stand ready to help students, faculty, and staff connect with the appropriate administrators whose knowledge and experience are crucial to evaluate and implement recommendations.
As I stated in my spring communication to the community, it is vital that we have a respectful conversation about the things that are of importance to us.
This is all the more true when it is about the future of our great institution, a subject of great passion for all of us.
Working together we will move Dartmouth forward.
Phil Hanlon '77
Last Updated: 4/2/14