The College’s involvement in lawsuits with The Dartmouth Review, the off-campus conservative weekly, ended this past April when three former Dartmouth students dropped a suit they had filed against the College in July 1988.
This lawsuit was the last of several cases filed between 1985 and 1989 by both the College and The Review. Lawsuits between the College and The Review were common throughout the late ’80s, but no such lawsuits have been filed since 1989.
The recently dropped case had been inactive and pending on the court docket since winter 1989. The case had been “dead for years,” College Counsel Sean Gorman said. The final dismissal papers were signed by both parties on April 27, 1993.
“It is quite common for cases to sit on the court docket for years without being dismissed,” Gorman said.
In April the case was called up by the court clerk and the plaintiffs, specifically former Review staff members Chris Baldwin ’89, John Sutter ’88, John Quilhot ’90 and The Review itself, decided to drop the case.
The three former students filed suit against the College in July 1988 for damages and equitable relief arising from their suspension which followed their alleged harassment of Music Professor William Cole during Winter term 1988.
The Review ran an article in February 1988 criticizing Cole’s teaching methods and casual attitude in class. The students confronted Cole in his classroom, allegedly harassing him even after he requested to be left alone.
Quilhot’s suspension was for one term. He spent the required time away from the College and then returned to graduate.
The College suspended Baldwin and Sutter for one year. The two students went to court with the College in January 1989 and were granted a temporary injunction that allowed them to return to school and continue their studies through graduation while the actual trial was pending.
From the time of the hearing on the preliminary injunction to April, neither the College nor the plaintiffs had taken any action on the suit, Gorman said.
Dinesh D’Souza ’83, former editor of The Review, said the plaintiffs had two main objectives in mind when they filed suit: to vindicate themselves politically and to ensure they incurred no real academic harm.
“Both of these objectives were achieved with the temporary injunction,” D’Souza said.
According to Sutter, the suit had dragged on long enough. All the students have put the incident behind them and are happy they were able to graduate, he said.
D’Souza said the students and The Review had no intention of harming the College politically or financially by seeking personal damage compensation since the judge’s verdict at the hearing allowed them to return to the College promptly.