Students enter Parkhurst, demand point-by-point response to ‘Freedom Budget’

Alex Becker, The Dartmouth Senior Staff
Students said they are prepared to spend the night in Parkhurst Hall.
Alex Becker, The Dartmouth Senior Staff

After about 45 minutes of discussion, College President Phil Hanlon left his Parkhurst office at about 5:15 p.m. Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson and Safety and Security director Harry Kinne urged students to leave the building at about 6:25 p.m. About five students remained in Hanlon’s office at about 7 p.m., and about eight students remained in the Parkhurst atrium.

Staying, Kinne said, would be “in violation of college policy. We will have to call the police and they can arrest you for trespassing.”

Johnson left Hanlon’s office at about 6:25. She has said that administrators cannot “control the hearts and minds of this campus” and agreed to an external survey to determine “additional action steps” regarding climate on campus after about 90 minutes of student occupation.

Johnson said that the main responsibility of the president is to raise money for the College, and that the demands of the “Freedom Budget” would have to be addressed by other administration officials.

In his office, Hanlon said he would identify administrators who can respond to each point.

“I don’t make all the decisions at the College,” Hanlon had said.

After Hanlon left, students continued to discuss the tone of the conversation, disagreeing if the meeting was a dialogue or a debate.

A group of about 35 students had entered College President Phil Hanlon’s office, demanding a point-by-point response to the “Freedom Budget.” The sit in, Dondei Dean ’17 said, is “about disruption.” About 10 students were denied entry into Parkhurt at about 5:30.

Prepared with poster paper, sleeping bags and pizza, the students said they are “extremely dissatisfied” with administrators’ March 6 response.

“We’re here to see President Hanlon. You probably know most of us already, but just to sum up we are extremely dissatisfied with the response that he issued,” Dondei Dean ’17 said to Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson at around 4 p.m. “It was not on our terms. We are here to see him and demand a point-by-point response, and we are not going to leave until we get one.”

At about 4:25 p.m., Hanlon said he would “rather have a conversation.”

“I would rather sit down and discuss with you and the whole campus, what are the solutions. What can we do, what can we not do,” he said. “We have constrained resources.”

Dean said the group does not speak for campus but they are “people whose opinions do matter.”

“If you implement these changes, I guarantee you people will support them,” Dean said.

College President Phil Hanlon and Interim Provost Martin Wybourne issued a response to the proposal on March 6, outlining its plans for increased diversity at the College, including changes to financial aid and programs to bring “diverse perspectives” to campus.

“Recently, a presentation of the ‘Freedom Budget’ document highlighted for us that we, as the administration, must engage the campus more effectively in current and future action to achieve our shared vision for Dartmouth,” the statement read.

The student-authored “Freedom Budget,” released to campus in late February, outlined over 70 demands for changes regarding issues of diversity and inclusivity.

The document demands that the College increase enrollment of black, Latino and Latina and Native American students to at least 10 percent each and increase the number of faculty and staff of color across departments. Other proposals include banning the Indian mascot, providing pro-bono legal and financial assistance to undocumented students and expanding gender-neutral housing and bathrooms on campus. The document also demands that residential life spaces on campus be accessible to all students.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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