Letter to the Editor

by Dan Richman | 7/23/21 4:00am

Matthew Magann ’21 hits on some very key points in his Tuesday article, “Resign, President Hanlon.”

Early on in the pandemic, Dartmouth looked prescient in cancelling athletics and suspending in-person learning. Given the limited knowledge that was available at the time about COVID-19, it was the right move. 

However, by the time Fall 2020 arrived, it was clear that the policies had gone from prudent to draconian. Dartmouth is an over 200-acre campus with an enrollment of around 4,500 undergraduates. There was no reason to limit capacity on campus. We knew by then that the virus represented little threat to college-age people, and in the state of New Hampshire, it was never a major crisis, with the average number of daily deaths in 2020 peaking at around 10.

But of course, the administration pressed on with little to no regard for the consequences of these policies. They made no changes after vaccines became readily available, and even cancelled athletics in Spring 2021; the Ivy League was alone among athletic conferences in this decision.

During the past year, even questioning the value of these policies was considered heresy. No discussion was allowed. And now we’re seeing the result. Three undergraduate students — Beau DuBray ’24, Connor Tiffany ’24 and Elizabeth Reimer ’24 —  took their own lives. Was this worth preventing a handful of COVID-19 cases?

Kathryn Lively’s resignation is a good first start, but I hope there is a serious postmortem done by objective thinkers. In our politically-charged environment today, people are often afraid to go against “groupthink.” It’s critical that on this issue, we do so. It should not be political. Good leaders would have heavily considered the risk factors of the virus, along with a cost-benefit analysis of the various protocols. But unfortunately, it would seem Dartmouth did not have any good leaders over the past 18 months.

As an alum who loves his alma mater, I hope that changes.

Dan Richman ’95

Dan Richman is a former member of The Dartmouth staff. 

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