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Letter: A Failed Strategy at Dartmouth

To the Editor:

Dartmouth College’s recent actions on sexual assaults, gender discrimination and homophobia follow a longstanding strategy: See evil, hear evil, speak evil, but don’t actually do anything about it. It is doomed again to failure.

We have long read about the usual suspects gathering, speaking out, declaiming on Dartmouth’s need to face up to these issues. Those demanding action — such as the ubiquitous Ivy Schweitzer and Tom Luxon — promote impossible solutions such as ending Dartmouth’s Greek system, which would devastate the annual fund and needlessly anger the alumni community. Meanwhile the college’s administrators spend their energy passing the buck: Jim Kim, for example, never got beyond assigning these problems to committees and opining on their inherent complexity. The recent one-day stand-down and subsequent gaggle of speakers are merely a deeper engagement with this failed strategy.

Within the Dartmouth culture, the only way to engage with potential perpetrators is through people they will listen to: leading college alumni respected in the Greek community.

Greeks will listen to the people they aspire to be — the successful industry and finance leaders the college cites as demonstrating its greatness. Let them hear from GE CEO Jeff Immelt ’78, a Phi Delt, about how corporate America deals with sexual harassment and how sexual assault allegations play in hiring. Ask U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Elyse Allan, GE Canada CEO, to co-chair an audit of the college’s adjudication process, which was accused again in the May 3 The Dartmouth of pressuring women not to pursue rape allegations. Form a council of Dartmouth Greek alumni — those who think “boys will be boys” — tasked with ending sexual assaults in the Greek system. As a first step, require them to attend a closed-door session in which victims of rape, current students and alumnae, tell their stories. Then dare them not to act, the college not to listen, and the males on campus not to realize that sexual assault is never acceptable.

Dartmouth is decades behind in dealing with sexual violence on campus, and pitiable if not pathetic in its mealy-mouthed actions to date. It’s time to stop talking and do something.

James T. Shea

Lyme

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