Faculty discuss Duthu's decision at termly meeting

by Julian Nathan and Peter Charalambous | 5/23/17 2:10am


Protestors made signs and brought them to Monday's faculty of arts and science meeting.

by Julian Nathan / The Dartmouth

Yesterday afternoon, over 150 faculty members and around 50 student demonstrators gathered at Alumni Hall for the termly faculty of arts and sciences meeting. The meeting followed College President Phil Hanlon’s campus-wide email earlier yesterday afternoon announcing that N. Bruce Duthu ’80 had declined his appointment to dean of faculty of arts and sciences following weeks of discussion surrounding his appointment.

Student demonstrators attended the meeting in support of Duthu, carrying signs that read “Fight 4 Faculty of Color” and “This is Why Faculty of Color Leave Dartmouth,” among other messages.

At the beginning of the meeting, Hanlon said that Duthu had his “unwavering support” and that opposition to Duthu’s appointment originated from “external” sources, not from individuals on campus.

During the meeting, several faculty members said that the administration should have done more to communicate its support for Duthu, comments that received applause from faculty and students alike. Italian language and literature professor Graziella Parati said during the meeting that it was important for Dartmouth faculty to show their support for Duthu to demonstrate their commitment to diversity.

After Hanlon’s statement, current dean of faculty of arts and sciences Michael Mastanduno addressed the audience. He began by saying that he had “deep respect” for Duthu, who was to succeed Mastanduno on July 1, and said that Duthu’s credentials were “impeccable.” Mastanduno added that Duthu found himself in a “difficult” situation, and Mastanduno was “not interested in debating” whether or not Duthu was at fault for signing a declaration calling for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in 2013. At certain points, faculty members and students alike interrupted Mastanduno with interjections supporting Duthu’s qualifications for the position.

“I may be in full agreement with any of your signs, but please have the respect to allow the faculty to do its business,” Mastanduno responded at one point to an interrupting student.

After Mastanduno made the majority of his remarks regarding Duthu’s decision, one faculty member proposed a motion to vote to urge Duthu to reconsider declining his appointment. After the motion was seconded by another faculty member, Hanlon asked the faculty members present at the meeting if they were willing to vote on the motion. The vast majority of faculty members raised their hands in favor of voting on the motion while none raised their hands in opposition. Since at least two-thirds of the faculty were in favor of voting on the motion, Hanlon then asked faculty members to vote for or against urging Duthu to reconsider his resignation. After more than two-thirds of the faculty voiced their support again, Hanlon announced that the measure passed but did not specify further how Duthu would be notified of this motion.

Julie Solomon ’17, who attended the meeting with a sign that read “Don’t Do DartMYTH,” said that she learned of the faculty meeting through friends, not through any campus organizations. She said that while she respected Duthu’s decision to refuse his appointment, she was upset because she believed that opposition to Duthu’s appointment undermined the College’s stated goal to employ a diverse faculty. Solomon also added that she does not believe that Duthu’s stance on Boycott, Divest, Sanctions amounts to anti-Semitism.

Classics professor Lindsey Whaley, who voted in favor of the motion, said in an interview that Duthu’s appointment had “tremendous faculty support” and that the controversy surrounding the appointment upset most faculty members. He added that despite his belief that Duthu is well qualified for this position, he respects Duthu’s decision to refuse his appointment.

In an interview after the meaning, Parati said that “it would be naive to think that race had nothing to do with the opposition [to Duthu’s appointment].” Parati, who was a member of the search committee for the dean of the faculty position, said she believes that Duthu is an ideal choice. She added that she was glad that faculty had the opportunity to vote on the resolution because it gave them the chance to “send a strong message” of support for Duthu’s appointment. She said she believes that faculty members, and not “external forces,” have the right to decide who would represent them as their dean.

Hanlon and Provost Carolyn Dever announced Duthu’s appointment on March 27. On May 3, economics professor Alan Gustman sent a faculty-wide email raising concerns about Duthu’s co-authorship of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s 2013 “Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.” Gustman argued that Duthu’s involvement implied support for the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement, which Gustman called anti-Semitic.

Duthu responded to “recent charges” in a May 9 faculty-wide meeting, noting that he “condemn[s] anti-Semitism” and supports the “right of private citizens to express criticism of any country’s government policies.” Gustman responded to this email on May 9, saying that Duthu did not clearly repudiate the BDS movement.