Delayed Reaction

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 11/13/01 6:00am

Last weekend, when two female students were assaulted on campus, we were reminded that despite its rural setting, Dartmouth is not insulated from safety concerns. Students' distress was worsened by the Dartmouth administration's painfully slow reaction to these events.

After the Zantop murder tragedy and the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the College responded immediately by contacting the student body with news and resources. But Dean of the College James Larimore did not e-mail the community regarding Saturday's assaults until yesterday afternoon -- more than 48 hours after the fact. His message provided little new information and offered none of the counseling resources included in a commendable message sent by the Student Assembly two days earlier.

The College needed to take action because hundreds of students were anxious about the safety of this campus. Most learned of the incidents through hearsay, twice-forwarded BlitzMail messages and posted notices. Larimore's e-mail recognized the need to dispel rumors, but the administration's lethargy allowed such rampant speculation in the first place.

The College failed to reach out to students directly in a time of critical need. Since the administration has responded so well to previous crises, the question is -- why not this time?