Hopkins Institute, Speakers Union sponsor conservative events

by Jeffrey Giuffrida | 11/15/95 6:00am

The Dartmouth Speakers Union and the Ernest Martin Hopkins Institute have taken a prominent role in the last several years in bringing visiting speakers, who are predominately conservative, to the College.

Over the past year, the two organizations have both sponsored a number of visiting conservative speakers and events, including last week's debate between conservative author Dinesh D'Souza '83 and Government Professor Roger Masters. Two years ago, the two groups helped to bring conservative journalist William F. Buckley Jr. to campus.

The Ernest Martin Hopkins Institute, which is based in Arlington, Va., is a group of alumni, while the Dartmouth Speakers Union is a College-recognized student organization.

Members of both groups say there is not enough intellectual diversity in the Dartmouth faculty and among visiting speakers, and say they work to try and make Dartmouth a more intellectually diverse place.

The Hopkins Institute

"We like shaking up the campus orthodoxy with challenging speakers," said William Grace '89, the Hopkins Institute's executive director, in a telephone interview. "Students are hungry for this kind of discourse."

Grace, a former editor of The Dartmouth Review, the off-campus conservative weekly, said the Hopkins Institute is a Dartmouth alumni organization that aims to "promote classic liberal education" at Dartmouth.

According to Grace, 3,600 Dartmouth alumni contribute regularly to the Hopkins Institute. These alumni revenues make up 95 percent of the Hopkins Institute's budget, Grace said.

The other 5 percent of the Hopkins Institute's budget comes from a grant provided by the John Olin Foundation, Grace said.

Besides sponsoring visiting speakers, Grace said the Hopkins Institute has been pushing the College to adopt a "year-long core curriculum" and to reduce tuition costs by cutting back on administration.

While Grace said he has some reservations with Dartmouth's administration, he said he still thinks that Dartmouth is in good shape.

"Dartmouth is the best college in America ... [and] the best thing it does not have is graduate assistants teaching undergraduate courses," Grace said.

But Grace said a major problem with Dartmouth is that it does not have very many conservative faculty members, which leads to a less diverse education.

"Dartmouth lacks intellectual diversity ... [and] lacks faculty who think differently from the majority of the Dartmouth faculty," he said.

And Grace said he does not believe Dartmouth is changing for the better.

"I haven't seen any signs of getting better on the curriculum point ... the new curriculum is a loosening of the very-relaxed old curriculum," he said.

The new curriculum, which took effect for the Class of 1998, includes a new set of more specific distributive, interdisciplinary and world culture requirements. Senior year, students must also complete a "culminating experience" in their major.

The Dartmouth Speakers Union

The Dartmouth Speakers Union is "run by students -- and it's a pretty informal group," according to its head, Davis Brewer '95.

Brewer, who is the current editor-in-chief of The Review, said the Speakers Union has only seven or eight members.

"We basically try to expand the campus debate to include all points of view," Brewer said. "There's a market for these ideas ... the agenda [of other groups] is extremely leftward."

Brewer said the members of the Speakers Union "don't want to be purely seen as a conservative group," and pointed to the Speakers Union's co-sponsorship of last May's speech by liberal New York Times book editor Richard Bernstein attacking multiculturalism.

"Our funding needs are pretty minimal," said Brewer. "We basically help get fund-raising from other groups by taking advantage of the Speakers Union's status as a College-recognized organization."

Brewer said the Speakers Union has a "close working relationship with the Hopkins Institute."