Member Selection for Task Force on Women was Fair, not Exclusive

To the Editor:

I am writing to clarify some misrepresentations being made concerning the selection of students to the Task Force on the Status of Women at Dartmouth. Membership to the Task Force was granted to those who demonstrated in their applications a willingness to hear others’ viewpoints and a genuine interest in the problems women face on this campus. No one was excluded because of a previous commitment or knowledge about the subject.

The group is accordingly composed of a wide variety of women and men of very diverse backgrounds and beliefs – including individuals involved with feminist issues. It would do no good to have a group composed entirely of activists or women’s studies majors. Women’s issues affect everyone at Dartmouth, and therefore all members of our community should be brought into the dialogue.

Knowledge of the issues is beneficial, but to find open-minded individuals is a far greater challenge. To suggest that Task Force members will not achieve relevant and important conclusions simply because they do not share a common background in women’s issues is insulting to the initiative of these students, who have displayed an interest in approaching the issues with an open mind.

Furthermore, I did not “hand pick” the members of the Task Force. Applications were sent out to the entire Dartmouth community. Those applications were evaluated by each of the four class presidents, in conjunction with their vice-presidents. From a very competitive process, we selected 20 individuals who absolutely met the criteria set above.

Finally, a word on a quotation in Monday’s article in The Dartmouth (“Women’s task force convenes,” Jan. 24), that the Task Force would not be a “forum for man bashing,” re-quoted from an earlier article (“’94 Class council forms task force on women,” Nov. 3). When taken in context, it was obvious that I was responding to criticisms that the Task Force would seek to pit the problems of this campus only on men. However, when rehashed and inserted in an article about feminists who were excluded from the group, it sounded quite different. I was in no way equating feminism with man-bashing, and that is clear in the first article.

This Task Force was formed to objectively address issues of sexual assault, eating disorders, classroom dynamics, and gender inequities in sports, among others. My intent in creating this group was to get people thinking about these issues on campus. I am glad to see that the debate has already begun, and I sincerely hope that those who share criticism of the Task Force will actively attempt to work with the committee, as opposed to criticizing its work from afar.

DAN GARODNICK ’94

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