Academia has been obsessed over identity politics for two generations, so there’s some justice in the newest addition to the matrix of oppression: an Ivy League education, according to the Dartmouth College students who this week took over the president’s office.
On Tuesday Dartmouth’s finest seized the main administration building and disrupted college business. The squatters were allowed to remain until Thursday night, when the dean of the college negotiated and signed an exit settlement assuring them the non-dialogue would continue.
The demonstrators had a 72-point manifesto instructing the college to establish pre-set racial admission quotas and a mandatory ethnic studies curriculum for all students. Their other inspirations are for more “womyn or people of colour” faculty; covering sex change operations on the college health plan (“we demand body and gender self-determination”); censoring the library catalog for offensive terms; and installing “gender-neutral bathrooms” in every campus facility, specifically including sports locker rooms.
We rarely sympathize with college administrators but we’ll make an exception for Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon, an accomplished mathematician who for some reason took the job last year. The occupiers filmed their confrontation and uploaded the hostage video to the Web, where Mr. Hanlon can be seen agog as his charges berate him for his “micro-aggressions.” Those are bias infractions that can’t be identified without the right political training.
Mr. Hanlon left after an hour and told the little tyrants that he welcomed a “conversation” about their ultimatums. They responded in a statement that conversations—to be clear, talking—will lead to “further physical and emotional violence enacted against us by the racist, classist, sexist, heterosexist, transphobic, xenophobic, and ableist structures at Dartmouth.”
If that sounds more like Syria than Hanover, N.H., meet the resurgence of the anti-liberal campus left. The intellectual mentor of the protestors is a history professor named Russell Rickford, who calls Dartmouth “White Supremacy U.” Hostile to free expression, open debate and due process, their politics of anger and resentment can’t be pacified. Reality is not an admissable defense.
To wit, the most tolerant-to-a-fault places in America are unlikely bastions for white male privilege. Dartmouth’s elaborate diversity bureaucracy is designed to accommodate any need or desire. Some 37% of its freshman class comes from a background “of color,” and 10% are first-generation college students. Note to any of them taking on loans for the $65,133 annual tuition, room and board: The special locker rooms will be itemized in the next term’s invoice.
These downtrodden souls also have powerful allies—namely, the U.S. government. Since 2011, the Education Department has used enforcement discretion to expand the legal scope of Title IX (on sex discrimination) and the Clery Act (on campus crime).
The civil-rights shop encourages activists to file legal complaints and threatens to withhold federal funding unless schools acquiesce. Dartmouth has been a target of this method for two years, but there are cases against Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Occidental and others.
Thus it is understandable that nominal authority figures like Mr. Hanlon seem helpless to defend their reputations or maintain discipline and public order. But it is still unacceptable. An institution more confident in its character and mission would defend itself. A college that purports to support free inquiry ought to be able to muster the courage to speak up for its own rules and for debate that respects the rights of others.
Mr. Hanlon might have told the kids occupying his office that most of mankind—forgive the micro-aggression—would love to be as oppressed as they are. Few young men and women in the world are more “privileged” than those admitted to the Ivy League. The takeover’s benefit to Dartmouth is that it might inspire the small minority of like-minded high schoolers to find another college to terrorize. Most elite U.S. students are well adjusted and grateful for their opportunity.
Dartmouth and any other school in this position should tell the students they have an hour to leave the premises, and if they don’t they will be arrested for trespassing and expelled. Since Mr. Hanlon missed that chance, he and the school’s trustees should now tell the students that if they are so unhappy they should transfer. Surely the occupiers would be welcomed by at least one of the other 4,431 universities or colleges in the U.S. But they may discover the problem is their own sense of privilege, not Dartmouth’s.
Best comment on the report:
If you read this article, you are guilty of micro-aggression.