All members of the Dartmouth Community are bound by a code of honor, which demands that we each hold ourselves as well as each other accountable for our actions. When one's "friend" sexually assaults someone, says something hateful or organizes a celebration of bigotry, there is an obligation, based on both the Dartmouth Honor Principle and natural human law, for one to confront those individuals, sanction the parties responsible and inform the community so that we can all learn and grow from this experience.
The rules and accounts to which we hold others and ourselves govern the community in which we live. People's lives are their own, true. We wouldn't debate that. Each person has a panoply of choices and actions from which to choose how to live their personal lives. However, the perversion of this freedom to denigrate others denigrates human integrity. The accounts of these choices in the context of our relationship with others are in part how a system governs itself. The denigration of one human being is implicitly the denigration of all, and implicitly denigrates the legitimacy of any system, which through participation, lackadaisical action, or inertia allows the further denigration of any of its members. To denigrate another is to diminish the security and threaten the nature of all human beings: to do so to one, as we are all equal, denigrates the victim, the victimizer (however deservedly), those whose inaction allows it to continue, and the victims who become participatory agents for the victimizer (whether by actively participating in brutalizing other victims or by excusing the actions of the victimizer by lamenting a lack of education).
Frankly, there aren't many things done to one human being that can't be done to all. Perhaps, that's one simple context for human interaction, and may serve here as a check to the choices we make. Power is temporal and situational, however long standing. The fall of empires, dogmas, and institutions is proof of that.
The crimes, which go on here on our campus, are our responsibility and are in part emblematic of the culture we allow to persist. The theme of this article is not moralistic; we speak of a need for accountability and governance. The culture we have allowed to envelop us, even with all its positives is one of apathy, bigotry, sexual abuse, and complicity. What could have been individual, abnormal and strikingly out-of-context events, we have allowed to become a pattern. The incredible number, manner, and persistence of these events speak to a pervasive culture rather than isolated events.
More needed than further fora to discuss the problems impinging Dartmouth's reputation is one simple thing, a mirror. The culture of Dartmouth is apathetic, abetting and sustaining to sexual abuse, racism and bigotry. There is no simple reason why. But what is clear, is that Dartmouth's declining reputation and ill repute are well earned. That reputation speaks to us, the type of people we are, and what we think of others.
We challenge everyone on this campus, from the students, to the faculty, administrators and staff, to actively take action against deeds detrimental to our community, both proactively and reactively. Too often only those "directly" targeted by incivility call for justice, despite the reality that when one person or group suffers injustice, all of our rights are curtailed. We applaud the challenge which Dean Larimore made to the community in his November 15th letter and we have resolved to commit ourselves to holding everyone, including ourselves, up to a true standard of conduct which does not tolerate disrespect, bigotry or any other form of incivility, neither inside nor outside of the classroom. The next time we see someone in an "Indian shirt," say a sexist, racist or homophobic "joke" or persecute one of our peers, we will hold that person or group accountable.
Furthermore, when we witness someone committing any of these acts in the presence of authority, whether it be a student leader, professor or administrator, we will expect and demand that the authoritative figure take action as well. Dartmouth is a place of boundless potential for the best educational and social experiences of a lifetime; however, our community will continue to be a success only if we take ownership of these circumstances and adapt our environment socially as well as institutionally in order to meet the needs of a true Liberal Arts education. We live as we determine.