Hanlon announces steering committee

by Sera Kwon | 5/5/14 6:39pm

A presidential steering committee will spend the next six months examining issues of sexual assault, high-risk drinking and inclusivity, College President Phil Hanlon announced in a campus-wide email Monday afternoon. Three professors, two administrators, four sophomores and two alumni comprise the committee, which will spend its first phase — until June 30 — gathering community input.

After collecting suggestions, the committee will evaluate feasibility, announce the top ideas and gather feedback before delivering its report to the College’s senior leadership. Hanlon aims to present final recommendation to the Board of Trustees at its November meeting and begin implementation immediately.

The committee will focus on extreme behaviors in undergraduate life, college spokesperson Justin Anderson said in an email.

Hanlon first mentioned the committee in an April 16 message to the community, in which he also announced a summit of 120 community leaders to discuss Dartmouth’s social scene.

English professor Barbara Will, the committee chair, said she agreed to join the steering committee when Hanlon approached her last week.

Will said that she sensed a general campus need to come together and address recent incidents, like instances of sexual assault and offensive or harmful speech.

“I’m excited about the possibility about doing it at this time,” Will said. “I think this is the right time to be doing this kind of work and I think Dartmouth is ready for it, so I felt like I could really make a contribution.”

This term, committee members will elicit suggestions from in-person and online forums, like Improve Dartmouth, “Moving Dartmouth Forward” sessions and small group discussions. During the summer, the committee will assess the feasibility of top ideas, which will be publicly announced in September for community feedback.

The committee had its first meeting Friday morning, committee member Kelsey Weimer ’16 said. The committee will meet weekly until the end of spring term, and will continue to meet regularly through fall term, she said.

“We have a student body that’s fighting, a community that is increasingly receptive to change and pressure from a progressive student body,” Weimer said.

Student body vice president-elect Frank Cunningham ’16 said he was proud and honored to join the committee, and said he would try to make sure every student’s voice was equally represented.

Weimer said the committee was tasked with addressing important, widespread and multifaceted issues.

Will said she has been “dismayed” at some recent campus behaviors.

“I think as a citizen and as a professor and as an engaged member of the community I’m looking forward to being able to address that and hopefully bring these behaviors to an end in some way,” she said.

Members of the committee stressed that community feedback will be critical in the success of proposed reforms.

Anderson said in an email that Hanlon, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson and other senior administrators nominated the committee members.

Will will chair the committee, which also includes mathematics professor Craig Sutton, physics professor Ryan Hickox, senior associate dean for student academic support services Deborah Tyson, senior associate athletics director for peak performance Drew Galbraith, Cunningham, John Damianos ’16, Kayla Wade ’16, Weimer, association of alumni president Susan Finegan ’85 and John Osborn ’88.