Report addresses community needs

Page three of the introduction to the Student Handbook defines the Principle of Community as “The life and work of a Dartmouth student should be based on integrity, responsibility and consideration. In all activities each student is expected to be sensitive to and respectful of the rights and interests of others and to be personally honest. He or she should be appreciative of the diversity of the community as providing an opportunity for learning and moral growth.”

It also states that the Committee on Standards determined that a violation of the Principle of Community could not be punishable by a COS disciplinary hearing.

Several of the Proposals the Steering Committee are examining from the Task Force report study the concept of community at Dartmouth and how rigorously the principle should be enforced.

Proposal 27: The Aam Proposal

Because the majority of the African Americans in Hanover are affiliated with the College, little support for the College’s largest minority group exists outside of campus boundaries, and thus Dartmouth’s Principle of Community becomes particularly important for minority students.

The Proposal submitted by the Afro-American Society states the need to make the community principle a judicial, and enforceable, concept.

The proposal states, “the College for the most part has chosen to engage in salutary neglect of such ignorant prejudice behavior.”

According to the proposal, because of a cycle of ignorance, “race relations on this campus are getting worse.”

The proposal also points to student discrimination against those that “differ from the majority in any way – culturally, economically, racially, ethnically – are … stereotyped, disenfranchised and isolated.”

President-elect of the Afro-American Society, Olivia Carpenter ’00 said, “as someone who is not a member of a mainstream group on campus, being an African American, we receive comments sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes blatant inconsiderate remarks.”

In order to alleviate the suffering this has caused minorities on campus, the submitters encourage the College to begin to act on injustices and make students adhere to the principle of community by being sensitive of the rights of others.

It states that the current system of encouraging open debate is not sufficient, that disciplinary or other administrative action be taken to ensure that all students can enjoy a Dartmouth experience without encountering prejudice.

A principle that is adjudicable will have “more leverage for showing respect,” Carpenter said, by having students’ actions meet with consequences.

In the past, Carpenter said, the College has treated racial issues “with too much openness.” The Aam has often acted on its own with people involved to discuss the incident because action was not directed by the College.

The proposal downplays the severity of punishment that should be given for violations of the community principle. It states the expulsion is not the answer but that there are other ways to hold students accountable for their actions, such as suspending an organization’s privileges to hold social functions for a certain amount of time.

Carpenter suggested that an offending person or group might be required to attend some Aam programming, to demonstrate they are “showing the initiative” to combat insensitivity.

Proposal 12: Mark Hoffman

Collis Center director Mark Hoffman discusses the need for a more accepting and welcoming sense of community to retain faculty members.

The proposal states “how isolating it feels to work at Dartmouth” especially for color, racial and sexual orientation minorities.

“Isolation is heightened when a person does not identify with many of thee flowing categories – white, heterosexual, married, have children, likes outdoor activities, likes cold weather, likes small towns and works at Dartmouth.”

Although this proposal does not directly address students, in the long term students will be greatly affected by not having to deal with frequent administrative changes and by having the opportunity to interact with diverse staff members.

The proposal suggests providing an orientation program for new employees, developing an ongoing program for spouses and partners of staff members, encouraging faculty programming, conducting exit interviews to gain feedback about the College, and meeting with prospective employees to discuss any concerns they might have.

A “Community at Dartmouth” course

To help eliminate unknowing acts of ignorance and discriminatory behavior towards fellow members of the Dartmouth College community, several groups – including a Dean’s Area Working Group composed mostly of administrators – propose to require students to take a “Community at Dartmouth” course.

The administrative group suggests a two part program consisting of a required course for first-year students and “continuing education” throughout the students’ four years.

The course would “prepare first year students for the challenges of living in a diverse college community,” the report says.

The course would need to be completed by the end of the Winter term, the report states, and would fulfill one Physical Education requirement.

According to the report, first-year students would be grouped by residence hall and the course would be taught by faculty, administrators or graduate fellows.

Women’s Resource Center director Giavanna Munafo also addresses the need for a “Community at Dartmouth” course in one of her two proposals.

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