Kim explains alcohol, assault at faculty meeting

by Sam Rauschenfels | 10/25/10 10:00pm

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10.26.10.news.faculecture
by Ashley Mitchell and Ashley Mitchell / The Dartmouth

As Kim greeted Monday's audience, he said he is "shocked" by what he has learned about the prevalence of alcohol and sexual assault at Dartmouth, and implored faculty members to use their connection with students to help curb these practices.

"I think we can find really interesting ways of tackling the problem," Kim said.

Discussion surrounding sexual assault and alcohol abuse has marked the past few terms of Kim's presidency. In response to increased involvement from Hanover Police on campus, Kim oversaw the formation of the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee in the Winter term. The Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault was formed during the Spring term.

Dean of the Faculty Michael Mastanduno, who said he knew in advance that Kim would focus on these issues, told The Dartmouth that it was a productive topic and "an important thing for a president to evaluate."

"As always, he finds ways to challenge faculty," Mastanduno said.

Kim reiterated his previous statements about the importance of the Good Samaritan policy, focusing heavily on the 2008 death of Matthew Sunshine a Northwestern University student who drank 17 vodka shots in a drinking contest after a final exam and died of alcohol poisoning, with a BAC of .396.

"We've had students here with blood alcohol concentrations of .396," Kim said. "My nightmare is that someone dies with a .396 blood alcohol level because people were scared that calling for help would get the student or themselves in trouble and then I have to call the parents the next morning, and the mother is a public health physician, and the father is a lawyer."

Kim's fear is that parents with those professions would know precisely what Dartmouth could have been doing to prevent such a tragedy, making it harder to explain why it occurred, he said in a previous interview with Editorial Board of The Dartmouth.

Kim told faculty that he had spoken with Matthew's mother, public health physician Suzanne Fields, about the issue. Fields has helped to start and alcohol education program known as the "Red Watch Band" program at Stony Brook University in New York, which places trained students at social events so that they can identify signs of alcohol abuse.

Kim's speech also dealt heavily with issues of sexual assault. Kim cited the 1986 sexual assault and murder of Jeanne Ann Clery whose death helped bring about the passage of the Clery Act, a law that requires universities to publish campus crime statistics. Kim said he has spoken with Clery's mother, Constance Clery, about sexual assault on campus, adding that Clery's father Howard was a member of the Class of 1953.

Academics were not completely excluded from meeting's agenda. Kim praised steady faculty hiring rates and the Tuck School of Business, which was ranked second internationally by The Economist this year.

Kim briefly touched upon budget matters, noting that the College's expense growth rate has been reduced from 8 percent to 4 percent annually and that health insurance adjustments had saved the jobs of approximately 14 employees.

Kim apologized for discontent over the College's recent copy machine rollout which drew criticism from several department administrators but asked faculty to remember that the changes were made to avoid cuts in academic and student programs.

Kim also proposed a number of ideas to improve the College's academic atmosphere, one of which was the development of spaces like Baker corridor for student to have casual, intellectual conversations. He added that Dartmouth needs a place where in the words of science author Steven Johnson "ideas can go to have sex."

After Kim's speech, Provost Carol Folt took to the floor to discuss Dartmouth's reaccreditation, a process that occurs every 10 years. Folt's office has compiled a 100-page reaccreditation report, which is available online.

She asked faculty to be ready for the accreditation team's impending visit, during which they will make sure students are learning what faculty intend them to learn.

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