Pelton creates civil discourse group

by David Cahill | 11/21/97 6:00am

In response to a series of incidents of intolerance over the last two years, Dean of the College Lee Pelton is creating a "committee on civil discourse" to encourage civility in the student body, Pelton announced yesterday.

The committee will focus on the Principles of Community -- four statements adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1980 based on the principle that "the life and work of a Dartmouth student should be based on integrity, responsibility and consideration." The Principles provide a basis for interaction among the different members of the Dartmouth community.

In a letter being distributed to students today, Pelton said that "a series of unfortunate incidents over the last two years seemed to suggest that some members of our community remained unenlightened by these Principles."

"Most recently, discussions concerning civility and speech have reemerged following the reactions of some members of the community to the recent issue of the Jack O'Lantern," Pelton wrote.

Chaired by Dean of Tucker Foundation Scott Brown, the committee will host lectures on tolerance and assess prevailing social attitudes at Dartmouth -- "not to impose values or beliefs but rather to serve as a catalyst for discussion," Pelton said.

"This is not a committee whose job will be to enforce regulations or ask students to comply with the regulations," Pelton said. "Its charge is to keep the discussion open and ongoing and fresh."

The final membership will include students, faculty and administrators, but the exact ratio remains undecided, Brown said.

The committee, which will meet at least once per term, is slated to "work in conjunction with a student facilitator group to raise the quality of engagement of campus issues," Brown said.

The group -- set to be formed next term -- will train students to lead discussions on social issues within the College community.