Waligore '01 starts liberal campus political paper

by Rachel Osterman | 6/10/01 5:00am

Tim Waligore '01 was working in Washington D.C. during an off-term last year and living with the current editor-in-chief of the conservative campus journal, The Dartmouth Review, when he resolved to start a new campus publication.

Dartmouth, he believed, lacked a forum for liberal discourse. Whereas the views of the right were able to find expression in the pages of the Review, no such publication existed for leftist students interested in opinion journalism, he concluded.

While in close quarters with Review editor Andrew Grossman '02, and sharing "some very interesting arguments and some very serious talks," Waligore began considering the notion of an alternative publication more seriously. He threw the idea around with several other liberal-minded Dartmouth students then living in the capitol.

When Waligore returned to campus this fall, he sought out the commitment of a small group of students. Once that was secured, he obtained College recognition and funding for the publication.

The Dartmouth Free Press was born.

As some continue to reform the College and students show signs of increased interest in activism, in some ways the publication that Waligore leaves behind with his graduation today represents these leaders.

The Free Press is a small but growing organization. Conceived in opposition to what its founders perceive as the dominance of conservative discourse on campus, the publication is dedicated to offering alternative progressive viewpoints.

But the editorial board does not believe in any single liberal party line, but instead tries to give expression to what it sees as Dartmouth's disparate, left-of-center majority.

The Free Press's position on the Greek system also seems to parallel the shift in Dartmouth attitudes. Officially, the publication neither favors nor opposes the elimination of the Greek system. What does come across in editorials and in the variety of opinion pieces it publishes, is the idea that single-sex houses need to reevaluate themselves and reform.

Born in Hanover to two parents who attended Dartmouth, Waligore spent his earliest years travelling the country hitchhiking with his parents. His sister, Athena, also in the Class of 2001 but two years his junior, was born in Norwich, Vt. They spent most of their childhood in Syracuse, N.Y., but moved to Stevensport, Wis. in time for high school.

A government major, Waligore spent much of his pre-Free Press extracurricular time at Dartmouth participating in various political activities, including parliamentary debate and the Daniel Webster Legal Society. He has also served as the president of Young Democrats, Rocky Public Issues Forum intern and vice-president of the undergraduate society Panarchy.

During one of his off-terms, Waligore worked for Bill Bradley's primary campaign in New Hampshire as the Grafton County coordinator. He explained why he was drawn to the former basketball player: "He was an idealistic person who was a realistic candidate."

Waligore spent the six months of his junior spring and summer working at The New Republic. During that time, he got an article published in the newsmagazine and also worked on a number of editorial tasks.

"It's one of the few smart and witty magazines that isn't ideological, "They take pride in surprising people. They also have investigative reporting that you can't see anywhere else," he said.

Waligore's time at The New Republic helped inspire him to start the Free Press.

"Our model is The New Republic," he said. "We were smart enough to realize that we'd never be as good as The New Republic. But we liked the model of political opinion journalism. I wanted this to revolve around the idea that you can be both fair and biased."

"The idea was to let people be involved with campus, national and international issues," he said. "We want to help get rid of apathy. People at Dartmouth are scattered and if they try to do something they find it doesn't work, and that creates more apathy. What we've done at the Free Press is institutionalize a forum for liberal viewpoints."

Waligore came to Dartmouth interested in Native American issues, and right away took several classes on the topic. His thesis, to which he dedicated the majority of this year's coursework, focused on indigenous rights in a multi-cultural democracy.

Waligore has established a name for himself in campus political circles as a passionate liberal eager to share his opinions and unafraid to carve out an independent path.

Another highlight of Waligore's time at Dartmouth came during the Florida recount of the 2000 election, when he spent a month staying up until 5:00 a.m. watching MSNBC.

"I basically had no life, I had my news fix all the time," he said. "I couldn't sleep because I had to find out what was happening. I didn't get a lot of work done during that period, though it's probably one of the most fun times I've ever had."

Waligore will participate in Columbia University's graduate political theory program next year. He said of his future: "I want to make sure that no matter where I am I'm involved in or knowledgeable about public affairs."