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April 16, 2014
To the Dartmouth community,
As you will recall, last month, Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Mandel '78 wrote in a message to the community that the time had come for a serious discussion of social norms and community standards on campus.
We are a great institution, 245 years old, poised for an even better future. But Dartmouth's promise is being hijacked by high-risk and harmful behaviors, behaviors that are hurting too many of our students, dividing us as a community and distracting from our important work of teaching and learning. From dangerous levels of drinking, to sexual assaults, disgusting and sometimes threatening insults posted on the Internet, and parties with racist and sexist undertones, our social scene is too often at odds with our mission and the practices of inclusion our students deserve.
We cannot let these behaviors stand between us and the College's amazing promise and potential--we must take actions that will bring them to an end.
It is the right thing to do, and the time to do it is now.
We've spent the last month planning the way forward and I am writing to let you know that this discussion has now begun. Tonight, under the banner of Moving Dartmouth Forward, we will convene a summit of student leaders, faculty, administrators, trustees and alumni in a conversation facilitated by Dartmouth Roots, a student group working to improve Dartmouth by bridging the gap between ideas and implementation. This is the first of what will be many conversations over the next several months as we generate ideas and evaluate steps that will bring a student experience to our College that is every bit the equal of the preeminent undergraduate education we offer.
This effort cannot be viewed as a mandate from the top; to be successful, we must all join in this discussion and I invite you to share your ideas and input from now through June 30 by sending a message to the following e-mail address:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by online submission.
To further the goals of the summit, I have formed a Presidential Steering Committee made up of students, faculty, administration and alumni and charged them with spending the summer gathering the best solutions to help us achieve a more fundamental level of reform that reaches every place on our campus where social activities occur. Primarily, they will concentrate on ways for ending harmful behaviors in the following areas: high-risk drinking, sexual assault, and inclusivity.
Among the many avenues the committee will pursue, foremost among them will be soliciting input from student organizations, individual students and every member of the Dartmouth family. They will then report their findings and propose concrete next steps to the trustees at the Board's November meeting.
To be certain, we have taken a number of actions that have had a positive impact. Over the last three years, efforts to reduce incidents of excessive drinking have seen medical transports for dangerous blood-alcohol levels fall by 60 percent. And in the last year, The Dartmouth Bystander Initiative and creation of the Center for Community Action and Prevention are mobilizing our community against sexual assault, while a new disciplinary policy effective in June will include mandatory expulsion for offenders. A major initiative to create a house model within residence halls will help build community and a sense of belonging on campus. These efforts represent real progress, but we must not confuse progress with success.
We must do more.
The conversation has begun. By being a part of it--and part of the solution--we will move Dartmouth forward together.
Phil Hanlon '77
Last Updated: 4/16/14