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Students Confront President: Change Demanded At Dartmouth College

  • Dartmouth College students Dondei Dean and Thomas Wang exchange opinions during a protest in the president's office in Hanover, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Dartmouth College students Dondei Dean and Thomas Wang exchange opinions during a protest in the president's office in Hanover, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon speaks to protesters in his office on campus in Hanover, N.H., on April 1, 2014.  Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon speaks to protesters in his office on campus in Hanover, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College students Dondei Dean and Thomas Wang exchange opinions during a protest in the president's office in Hanover, N.H., on April 1, 2014. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon speaks to protesters in his office on campus in Hanover, N.H., on April 1, 2014.  Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Hanover — More than 30 students occupied Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon’s office on Tuesday afternoon, demanding a more detailed response on a student proposal to “eradicate systems of oppression” on campus.

Senior Jillian Mayer said students delivered the “Freedom Budget” — a document outlining more than 70 specific proposals — to the administration in late February, asking for an in-depth reply from college administrators one month later.

The administration’s response didn’t address “a majority” of points outlined in the document, Mayer said, warranting immediate action from students.

“We are here because we need the Freedom Budget enacted,” Mayer, of Florida, said.

Mayer was one of nearly a half dozen students who stayed in Hanlon’s office well after the planned protest ended — and she planned to remain there all night.

“We are a group of students who feel very marginalized on campus,” she said.

Students of all different backgrounds, beliefs, skin colors and sexual orientations, entered Hanlon’s office around 4 p.m. and demanded the president weigh in on all points addressed in the student-authored document.

Hanlon didn’t comply with that request, but he did offer up a way forward.

After speaking with students for roughly 45 minutes, Hanlon said members of his senior staff will be asked to sit down and talk with students who are working closely with the document.

Charlotte Johnson, dean of the college, said it was also decided Tuesday that a survey would be undertaken to determine the “climate here on campus.” An independent consultant firm would conduct the study, Johnson said, declining to comment on specifics.

Those two plans for moving forward didn’t satisfy some of the students protesting Tuesday, who had a back-and-forth discussion with administrators for nearly an hour before the administrators left and the students continued the dialogue among themselves.

“The discussion felt a bit defensive on their part, as if all of their conversations felt preprepared,” Anthony Chicaiza, a freshman from New Jersey, said of administrators’ remarks during the meeting. “I don’t feel like we got too much progress in. It doesn’t seem like it is enough for all ... that we are trying to do.”

Students protesting Tuesday said they felt the climate on campus repressed issues of diversity and inclusiveness. The points outlined in the Freedom Budget would work to correct those aspects and many more, Mayer said.

The students who were protesting also felt there was an issue of power on the campus.

“Some people on this campus have more power. President Hanlon has more power than me. Not just as an authority figure ... but also as a male, also as a white person ...” Dondei Dean, a freshman from Los Angles said.

A half dozen students remained inside the president’s office around 7 p.m. Tuesday night, and planned to spend the night there, though Safety and Security Director Harry Kinne said staying in the office was considered to be trespassing and the students names would be recorded.

Those who remained intended to continue discussions this morning.

Another dozen students camped out in the hallways of Parkhurst Hall, a move Kinne recommended.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.