Administration will not Reveal Identity of "Hate-Mailer"

by Daniel M. Nelson | 4/14/99 5:00am

To the Dartmouth Community:

I am writing to follow up on articles and discussions on campus last week regarding the anonymous mailing of offensive pamphlets to members of the campus chaplaincy, the Dean of the Tucker Foundation, members of the Rainbow Alliance, the President of the Student Assembly, and others. Information provided by some of the recipients enabled the Dean of the College Office to identify the student responsible for the mailings. The student's dean has spoken with him at length and has concluded that the student does not represent a threat to the physical safety of the community. Although the dean has urged the student to provide a public accounting of his actions, the student has declined to do so.

This student has been made fully aware, from the campus dialogue and his conversations with his dean, that these mailings were contrary to our Principle of Community which articulates our commitment to tolerance, respect for diversity, honesty and other values. The pamphlets caused many to feel threatened, marginalized, and unwelcome. They also offended many who nonetheless share a commitment to an open marketplace of ideas in which reasoned, respectful debate can occur.

Students are certainly entitled to hold and articulate controversial and even offensive points of view, and all of us should be committed to upholding that right. But others in the community have an equal right to express their own convictions. These rights carry with them an assortment of responsibilities, including the obligation to accept responsibility for one's ideas. That responsibility was neglected by this student in this case. The student's misleading attempt to implicate an organization of Christian students which had no part in the mailings, and the student's failure to come forward publicly to accept his own responsibility for the mailings and the views expressed, was contrary to the spirit and values that are at the heart of our community.

Such behavior rightly provokes our profound disapproval, although it does not violate student conduct regulations. The remedy for offensive and hurtful speech is more speech, and a continued affirmation of the values of tolerance, respect and inclusivity that should and do characterize this College. I hope that all of us will rededicate ourselves to accepting our responsibility to engage in open, civil discourse, and to appreciating, supporting and respecting the rich diversity of our community.