Kim notifies campus of harassment incidents
By Stephanie Mc Feeters, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, May 14, 2012
Safety and Security, the Dean of the College Office and the Office of Pluralism and Leadership are currently investigating two incidents of harassment reported last week in accordance with the College’s Bias Incident Protocol, according to OPAL Director Alysson Satterlund. College President Jim Yong Kim notified the community of the two incidents in a campus-wide email on Friday afternoon.
Safety and Security was informed of a harassment incident involving homophobic remarks directed at two students who are members of the LGBT community on May 5, according to the email. Safety and Security was made aware of an incident involving racist remarks directed at a student in the early morning of May 11.
The email was meant to notify the community of the occurrences, seek additional information and inform students of the resources available to them should they experience any form of harassment, Satterlund said.
While the College does not have official regulations regarding what instances merit a campus-wide notification, the administration’s message was intended to make students aware of the services available before the beginning of the weekend, given that two incidents had been reported in a single week, Associate Dean of the College for Student Academic Support Services Inge-Lise Ameer said.
“We just wanted to send a message that those kinds of behaviors are not acceptable on campus,” Ameer said.
The Bias Incident Protocol, established four to five years ago, encourages collaboration between multiple College departments in response to harassment incidents, rather than isolating incidents in investigations run by Safety and Security or the Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Office, Satterlund said.
When incidents of bias are reported, OPAL often invites students involved to meet with a member of the OPAL staff, according to Satterlund.
Satterlund has emailed all of the victims and has met with all but one of the students in person so far, she said.
Once the investigation is complete, OPAL plans to collaborate with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, the Inter-Community Council, Student Assembly and other organizations, with the next step being contingent on the results of the investigation, according to Satterlund.
The incident of harassment targeting members of the LGBT community last week is “not particularly surprising,” according to co-chair of Gender Sexuality XYZ Van Melikian ’14. While the College as a whole is generally accepting of LGBT students, not all individuals are, he said.
Melikian said he was frustrated by the administration’s slow response time, adding that the administration took four days to respond to an incident of homophobic vandalism that occurred on the gender-neutral floor of Fahey-McLane residence hall in November, he said.
“It doesn’t take that long to compose and send a blitz,” Melikian said.
While the campus-wide email is a significant step, more support for the LGBT community from the administration is necessary, Melikian said.
“Dealing with this one [incident] is like putting a band-aid on a gaping flesh wound,” he said.
Stewart Towle ’12 said he thought the language of Kim’s email did not adequately address the severity of the racist and homophobic harassment that occurs at the College.
The administration has a tendency to treat each violation of the College’s Principles of Community as an isolated incident, when in fact these violations reflect a deeper problem that the College as a whole needs to confront, Towle said in an email to The Dartmouth.
“I also find the language of ‘bias incident’ to be innocuous, understated and devoid of compassion for those targeted with hate speech while making people who demonstrate racism or homophobia sound like bias reporters or commentators,” Towle said.
The email seemed to be “an empty gesture” due to the lack of details, he said.
Advisor to LGBT students Pam Misener did not respond to requests for comment by press time.