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Dartmouth Class Proposes Plan Against Sex Assaults

  • Following their term research presentation, "Creating Feminist Consciousness at Dartmouth College", Feminist Theory and Methodology students Elizabeth Hoffman, Cordelia Owusu, Stuart Ghafoor and Matt Norwood listen to their professor Jennifer Fluri on Monday, November 12, 2012, in Hanover, N.H.<br/>Valley News - Ryan Dorgan

    Following their term research presentation, "Creating Feminist Consciousness at Dartmouth College", Feminist Theory and Methodology students Elizabeth Hoffman, Cordelia Owusu, Stuart Ghafoor and Matt Norwood listen to their professor Jennifer Fluri on Monday, November 12, 2012, in Hanover, N.H.
    Valley News - Ryan Dorgan Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matt Norwood, a Dartmouth student from Atlanta, Ga., speaks to an audience of students, faculty and administrators Monday, November 12, 2012, about creating feminist consciousness at Dartmouth. Norwood and nine of his classmates in Professor Jennifer Fluri's Feminist Theory and Methodology course presented their term research in order to promote discussion to "end the perpetration and normalization of sexual violence" at Dartmouth.<br/>Valley News - Ryan Dorgan

    Matt Norwood, a Dartmouth student from Atlanta, Ga., speaks to an audience of students, faculty and administrators Monday, November 12, 2012, about creating feminist consciousness at Dartmouth. Norwood and nine of his classmates in Professor Jennifer Fluri's Feminist Theory and Methodology course presented their term research in order to promote discussion to "end the perpetration and normalization of sexual violence" at Dartmouth.
    Valley News - Ryan Dorgan Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matt Norwood, a Dartmouth student from Atlanta, Ga., speaks to an audience of students, faculty and administrators Monday, November 12, 2012, about creating feminist consciousness at Dartmouth. Norwood and nine of his classmates in Professor Jennifer Fluri's Feminist Theory and Methodology course presented their term research in order to promote discussion to "end the perpetration and normalization of sexual violence" at Dartmouth.<br/>Valley News - Ryan Dorgan

    Matt Norwood, a Dartmouth student from Atlanta, Ga., speaks to an audience of students, faculty and administrators Monday, November 12, 2012, about creating feminist consciousness at Dartmouth. Norwood and nine of his classmates in Professor Jennifer Fluri's Feminist Theory and Methodology course presented their term research in order to promote discussion to "end the perpetration and normalization of sexual violence" at Dartmouth.
    Valley News - Ryan Dorgan Purchase photo reprints »

  • Following their term research presentation, "Creating Feminist Consciousness at Dartmouth College", Feminist Theory and Methodology students Elizabeth Hoffman, Cordelia Owusu, Stuart Ghafoor and Matt Norwood listen to their professor Jennifer Fluri on Monday, November 12, 2012, in Hanover, N.H.<br/>Valley News - Ryan Dorgan
  • Matt Norwood, a Dartmouth student from Atlanta, Ga., speaks to an audience of students, faculty and administrators Monday, November 12, 2012, about creating feminist consciousness at Dartmouth. Norwood and nine of his classmates in Professor Jennifer Fluri's Feminist Theory and Methodology course presented their term research in order to promote discussion to "end the perpetration and normalization of sexual violence" at Dartmouth.<br/>Valley News - Ryan Dorgan
  • Matt Norwood, a Dartmouth student from Atlanta, Ga., speaks to an audience of students, faculty and administrators Monday, November 12, 2012, about creating feminist consciousness at Dartmouth. Norwood and nine of his classmates in Professor Jennifer Fluri's Feminist Theory and Methodology course presented their term research in order to promote discussion to "end the perpetration and normalization of sexual violence" at Dartmouth.<br/>Valley News - Ryan Dorgan

A group of Dartmouth College students are demanding the administration adopt a zero-tolerance policy for preventing sexual assault, and with a strongly-worded petition circulating on campus that has collected more than 700 signatures, people are beginning to pay attention.

At the center of the campaign are 10 students in professor Jennifer Fluri’s gender studies class who have spent the semester researching sexual assault on campus and came up with specific recommendations they would like to see the administration adopt to battle the problem, including a zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault, requiring sexual education classes to freshmen and establishing an Office for Sexual Abuse Response and Prevention.

Meanwhile, Interim President Carol Folt sent out a letter yesterday outlining what the College is doing to battle the problem. The email went out only a few hours before Fluri’s class was scheduled to give a presentation of its proposal to the college community.

The ten students, which consist of seven women and three men, prefaced their presentation in Carson Hall yesterday by clarifying that each of them were either survivors of sexual assault or have friends who are victims of sexual assault.

The students argue sexual assault is a “human rights issue, not a public health issue,” which they classify as a gender-based type of violence.

The students’ plan called for email “crime alerts” whenever there is an incident on campus and a rewriting of the Student Handbook’s “violent hazing” section and the college’s Committee on Standards, to include the word “rape.”

The students noted that the social scene at Dartmouth is centered around fraternities, and proposed that steps be taken to counter their domination. By way of explaining the imbalance, fraternities make up 9 percent of housing while all female housing, including sororities, account for only 4 percent, said Dartmouth student Nell Pierce.

She argued that the fraternity system is aimed at popular, wealthy, heterosexual white males. She and other students suggested that the college work with the town to develop a “college bar,” so students have other options when it comes to socializing, in addition to opening substance-free late night venues.

“This is a very systematic advancement given to this narrow part of the campus,” Pierce said. “There is a vulnerability of the guest compared to those who are holding events.”

And although the students themselves did not suggest abolishing fraternities, which is the heart of Dartmouth life, faculty members nonetheless were quick to bring it up .

At the end of the presentation, Susan Brison, a professor of philosophy, asked why the class went out of its way to not suggest dismantling of the Greek system.

Pierce explained that she spoke with many students during her research and suggested that idea, but said the sentiment for such a tradition-breaking course just wasn’t there.

But Peter Hackett, a theater professor, disagreed. Hackett was a student when the conversations were happening 40 years ago about Dartmouth admitting women. Alumni said that the change would destroy the college and they would never donate another dollar.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to leadership,” Hackett said. “At one point, somebody said we’re going to do this because it’s the right thing to do.”

A few minutes later, another student in the class, said she’d like to hear what administrators had to say about their ideas.

Elizabeth Agusto, special assistant to the dean of the college, was sitting in the audience and said that if students want the Greek system dismantled, then the dean’s office needs to hear more about it. Aurora Matzkin, special assistant to the president for student health, added that the people who can change, or have the authority to change or even abolish the Greek system, are the president and the board of trustees.

“Bingo,” Hackett said.

The 10 students would like to present their proposal to the administration at a faculty meeting that would include the president and the dean of the college. If that isn’t possible, the student’s professor, Fluri, said that the administration will be faced with the proposal in some format. And she said that the administration already knows about the students’ ideas because the petition is receiving a lot of attention.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.