Smith, Creationism and Frats. Oh My.
By Shaun Stewart, Staff Columnist
Published on Monday, April 16, 2007
With the trustee elections underway, there are a number of questions that members of the Dartmouth community must ask themselves about Stephen Smith '88. Questions like, do I want a trustee who has blatantly lied on his website about the school I love? Do I want a trustee who has never been involved with the college since he graduated? Do I want a trustee who has been propped up by an ultra-conservative secret society? Or, how about this one: do I want a trustee who writes angry, anti-evolution articles on fundamentalist websites?
While he is absolutely entitled to his own beliefs, his vitriolic writings offer an excellent insight into the man who would be trustee.
In an article he wrote in the Catholic World Report entitled "A review-essay of Phillip Johnson's book, 'Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education,'" he rails against academia, the American legal system, fraternity members, women and pretty much everyone else who he perceives as being a "tool of atheistic advocacy."
One of the most telling passages from Smith's article is, "The prevailing liberal orthodoxy would sooner teach students that the Earth is flat than it would teach them that God exists. Half-baked theories, after all, are harmless to an academic elite that cares little about truth." Think about this for a minute: Not only is Smith making ludicrous claims (nothing new), but he is saying that elite academics, such as the faculty at Dartmouth, are God-hating atheists who don't care about truth, who would willingly and deliberately lie to their students.
How can we have such a man as a trustee of Dartmouth when he holds such hostile views towards integral members of our community? It raises a number of questions about how he would try to shape the faculty as a trustee. Would he like to replace biology professors with creationists? Why not get rid of our environmental studies professors in favor of global warming "skeptics"? The point is, I would feel very uneasy having such an ideologue making big decisions about our world-class faculty.
Also from Smith comes this gem: When talking about the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, he says that the reason science hasn't investigated how it happened is not for lack of interest, as "radical feminists would be quite interested in that enterprise." This comment seems rather belittling of assertive women. Add to that on his website, Smith laments the fact the Zeta Psi fraternity has not been re-recognized "years after its alleged transgression," and that Beta Theta Pi fraternity has suffered similarly. Lest anyone forget, Zete was de-recognized for publishing date-rape techniques in their house newsletter, and Beta was de-recognized years ago for secretly videotaping women hooking up with brothers. I realize that Smith's Dartmouth was one where the concerns of women were not as openly addressed as they are today, but his glib comments about women coupled with his failure to see the seriousness of the infractions of the de-recognized houses make me very doubtful of his ability to serve as a trustee.
Third, when discussing the first organisms on earth, Smith says, "These purposeless creatures existed only to nourish and reproduce themselves, much like the fraternity boys who plagued college administrators in a later era." While this is obviously a (poor) attempt at humor, it bears mentioning that he just called roughly 70 percent of the men at Dartmouth purposeless and only interested in food and sex (when they are obviously equally as interested in beer). Nonetheless, it is rather condescending towards Dartmouth students and our excellent Greek system.
While Smith's writings cause me great concern, if this article were an isolated incident in an otherwise uneventful campaign, it would not make me so alarmed over his candidacy. However, Smith has run one of the most dishonorable campaigns I have ever seen. All of this leads me to one simple conclusion: Stephen Smith should not be a trustee of the College. I call on the entire Dartmouth community, and especially the voting alumni, to reject him in his bid.