In April 2014, I asked the Dartmouth community to take the lead in bringing campus life to a safe, sustainable place. I outlined a plan to address the incidence of high-risk behavior and a lack of inclusivity on our campus—to ultimately create an environment for living and learning that is conducive to Dartmouth reaching its full potential as a global leader in research and teaching.
I announced the formation of a special Presidential Steering Committee of students, faculty, staff, and alumni to thoughtfully examine the issues, determine where Dartmouth could do better, and provide recommendations. In January, the Committee presented its report to me and to the Board of Trustees.
Drawing on this report, I am pleased to present the Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan.
The vision for Dartmouth is a campus that is more inclusive, where faculty and graduate students play more influential roles in the lives of undergraduates, where students learn and grow outside the classroom, and where we have more options for social life and community interaction. A new housing model will address each of these goals, and we are moving forward aggressively to implement it.
Simultaneously, we will explore additional avenues to create a more inclusive and diverse environment on and off campus. We will do this because it is right. We also know that a more diverse and inclusive environment will enrich our community and strengthen the academic experience, increasing intellectual growth and innovation. Whether it is by increasing diversity in faculty, enrolling a student body that is more representative or providing more social options, we will work to ensure that our community conveys a message of inclusion to every student—no matter their gender, race, orientation, or socioeconomic background.
We have appointed a Vice Provost dedicated to expanding the diversity of the faculty, and have designated significant funds to support hiring faculty who are underrepresented in their fields. In addition, the Dartmouth Class of 2020 will welcome additional veterans in its first-year class through the POSSE program. We will also
Dartmouth has a long tradition of academic excellence. We have fostered intellectual risk-taking and collaborative learning that is truly first-in-class, and we have molded leaders and problem-solvers who have gone on to great things. This is our legacy. As we move to the future, we will become ever more defined by this notion—but only if we take every proven step to provide the safest environment possible for students to learn and grow. Our community is strongest when we are open, safe, inclusive, and welcoming to all.
That begins by doing everything in our power to eradicate sexual assault on our campus and to promote community awareness of sexual violence and gender-based harassment. In the last year, we have acted decisively to strengthen our procedures and adopt new protocols to both prevent sexual assault and respond as fairly and swiftly as possible when an assault is reported. We have adopted an independent investigator model for when an assault is reported, as well as a zero-tolerance sexual assault disciplinary policy that includes a mandatory penalty of expulsion in extreme cases. We have also introduced a customized Bystander Training Program that engages students in preventing assault.
This work has been exemplary, but there is more to do. The safety of all Dartmouth students is paramount, and our actions moving forward will build on and expand this year’s work.
Beginning next year:
To truly create a safe environment—and one that is advantageous to learning—we will also have to tackle the challenge of excessive drinking. Dartmouth will take the lead among colleges and universities in eliminating hard alcohol on campus. Dartmouth’s new alcohol policy for students will prohibit the possession or consumption of “hard alcohol” (i.e., alcohol that is 30 proof or higher) on campus by individuals, including those over the legal drinking age, and by Dartmouth College-recognized organizations. In addition, we will ask that the entire campus community follow suit and not serve hard alcohol at college-sponsored events and be role models for the healthy consumption of alcohol.
The key to the successful implementation of any policy change is a clear path for enforcement.
To this end, we will require third-party security and bartenders for social events. We will also increase penalties for students found in possession of hard alcohol, especially for those students who purchase and provide alcohol to minors.
Policies alone will not create the change we seek on this campus. True change will come from individuals—and thereby student organizations—committing to live up to a higher standard of behavior.
We will also clarify and strengthen accountability for student organizations—including Greek organizations. Moving forward, student organizations will be held to a much higher standard than they have been in the past. I have asked the Dean of the College to form a committee of faculty, staff, and students led by the Dean to explicitly put in writing what we will expect of student organizations, particularly the rules pertaining to hosting social events, and annual review process. This work will be completed in time for implementation during the 2015 academic year.
As a start, beginning next year:
The system cannot continue to exist unchanged—our students understand that and understand the need to root out extreme behavior. In fact, the proposal advanced by the Greek Leadership Council introduces more serious ideas for reform than the system has seen in 50 years, and comes on the heels of good ideas that are already working, including last year’s initiative to delay entry of first-year students into Greek houses for the first six weeks of fall term. I am optimistic that we will see even more collaborative work in the future.
Of course, we are also quite aware that past promises and plans for reform generated by Greek organizations have not always led to substantive and lasting changes. If, in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful and lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit the system’s continuation on our campus.
Moving forward, it will be simple: Individuals and organizations that choose not to fulfill these higher standards will not be a part of our community.
Our vision is for Dartmouth to be a place of around-the-clock learning, a place where every experience contributes to building leaders with the wisdom for a complex world. At the same time, remaining at the forefront of teaching and learning requires us to consistently increase the rigor of our curriculum, and doing so can have a positive impact on student life and behaviors. To achieve this vision:
To ensure that these actions do in fact mark a turning point in our history, we are taking the following steps:
We will be transparent about our progress. And we will reevaluate and retool these steps as needed to reach our end goal.
I have outlined the path that I believe we must take to Move Dartmouth Forward to a future where students are free of extreme behaviors and part of a safe and healthy environment; where we foster inclusivity through a variety of options for community building and social interaction; where students are 24/7/365-day-a-year learners; and where students continue the tradition of independently organizing and defining the social scene—but with greater accountability and engagement with the faculty.
Last Updated: 1/29/15