Stand for Morals Today
The Trustees claim they were in a tight spot this weekend. But really, they were in a key spot. They had the chance to make a difference and instead gave the College the go-ahead to remain exactly as it is: fearful and hostile toward its own gay, lesbian and bisexual community.
In their statement, the Trustees asked for sympathy because they were called upon to "make an unconscionable choice as to which students to disadvantage" - the gay, lesbian and bisexual students or those involved in the Reserve Officer's Training Corps. But the battle between the two sides was not fought on equal ground. The fight pitted the finances of one group against the very identity of the other.
In their decision to keep ROTC - a program even they admit discriminates against gays, lesbians and bisexuals - they effectively marginalized a group of individuals in return for the scholarships to another. But the decision hurts more than the homosexual community - it attacked the morality of the entire Dartmouth community by condoning discrimination.
In one short weekend, the College gave its students a crash course in how to get an A in economics at the expense of morality. The Trustees put a price tag on values and tried to buy them out with a promise to help change the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The statement tries to please everyone, by both allowing ROTC to continue and claiming the Trustees intend to pressure the military to adopt a policy that does not discriminate. But by doing the first, they shot themselves in the foot before they could try the second.
If the military is not going to listen to President Clinton, it is certainly not going to listen to the Board of a college that accepts the same intolerant policy. The U.S. Army is not going to follow the orders of Dartmouth to embrace the homosexual community when Dartmouth refuses to suggest that its own students do so. The only way the Trustees could have gained the leverage to affect change in the military's discriminatory policy was to send out the message that discrimination is wrong. Unfortunately, they sent out the opposite.
But the battle is not over yet. With their statement, the Trustees retreated from the front lines and put the students in a key spot. Today the steps of Parkhurst will be filled with students holding their morals, not a white flag, in their hands. Bring yours and join them. Make a difference.