College campuses have served as a hotbed for protests against rape culture, racism, homophobia and other ills in recent weeks. Some Dartmouth College students capitalized on the momentum, protesting against the school’s disregard for victim-shaming policies, racist incidents and other intolerant behavior.
More than a dozen student activists invaded an annual welcome show for new students on April 19. Their mission was to alert incoming students and their families to the ills permeating Dartmouth. The students shouted “Dartmouth has a problem!” according to the student newspaper, the Dartmouth. Their protest was met with resistance, death threats and rape promises. Some of their peers spewed vitriol through the Internet, using the forum Bored at Baker. The site has been removed, but Think Progress provides several screenshots of the anonymous messages pictured below.
Dartmouth administrators quelled the tension Wednesday by canceling classes to address the protestors and their brutal detractors. The college released a letter to students announcing the cancellation of classes in favor of “alternative programming… that promotes respect for individuals, civil and engaged discourse, and the value of diverse opinions.”
Though some students are satisfied with the response, others are worried that the campus is dismissing the larger, systemic concerns including the blatant perpetuation of rape culture at the institution. Dartmouth has a troubling history of attempting to conceal sexual assaults and promoting racism. The Dartmouth Review, a publication separate from the school-sanctioned newspaper, ran racist editorials in the 1980s, according to Bloomberg News.
Some of the content included a “parody of black dialect” and resistance to an African-American Studies program. Dartmouth never addressed this blatant racism and has erected similar responses to the horrid hazing culture and rising sexual-assault numbers.
Dartmouth administrators hope the day of solidarity improves morale and tolerance on the campus.
Charlotte Johnson, dean of the college, said in a campus e-mail, “Threats and intimidation – even if made anonymously or online – violate our standards and expectations for the Dartmouth community. That kind of behavior is never justified.”
Hopefully her words resonate and Dartmouth’s administrator can begin addressing the illnesses plaguing its culture.