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The Dartmouth
May 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

‘I’m in full listening mode:’ President Beilock hosts first office hours, discusses first steps

Some of Beilock’s goals include creating “brave spaces,” focusing on sustainability and learning about the community.

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On June 29, after two weeks in office, College President Sian Leah Beilock hosted open office hours at the Collis Center patio, and around 15 students attended. Alongside Dean of the College Scott Brown, Beilock spoke with students about Dartmouth culture, Greek life and mental health on campus as well as the relationship between campus and the Hanover community. 

“I’m doing my thing and learning about a community, and I think that’s how you have to come in,” Beilock said in an interview with The Dartmouth following the office hours. “Getting to know an institution and its community and its culture is so important for understanding the opportunities and challenges here. I’m in full listening mode right now.” 

The importance of listening to student voices was a central topic of discussion during Beilock’s office hours.

“Students bring a particular viewpoint that administrators and leaders don’t have, and we may not always see eye to eye, and that is totally fine,” Beilock said. “But these types of conversations will lead to better outcomes. Whether it’s town halls or more office hours, these conversations will lead to the best campus.” 

Beilock added that she believes other leaders and campus administrators should also consult students when making decisions. 

Student attendants of the office hours are looking forward to seeing these steps implemented.

“There are a lot of decisions that are made without students knowing anything about it,” Julia King ’23 said. “For example, I didn’t know a thing about the decision to make laundry free, and while it will be great for students in the long term, in the meantime we have no laundry. It just often feels like decisions that are made don't really involve student opinion at all.”  

Cady Rancourt ’24 said that she also hopes both undergraduate and graduate students will be incorporated in administrative committees and decision-making processes. 

“There are so many organizations on campus where adding just one student to a committee, or one student to a board, can make a huge difference,” Rancourt said. 

At the office hours, some students also voiced concerns about making Greek spaces more inclusive and safe. King said that she feels “very strongly” about her involvement in her sorority Epsilon Kappa Theta. 

“We’ve had struggles on campus with transparency, communication and representation, so I wanted to come to office hours and advocate for future members of my group and other groups like it,” King said. 

King explained that she feels that affinity groups, clubs and gender-inclusive Greek houses are such meaningful communities for students, and she hopes that the Beilock administration will support these organizations. 

“I would like to see more support for communities that get overlooked,” King said, referring to such organizations.

During her interview with The Dartmouth, Beilock also emphasized a focus on creating “brave spaces” — a play on the phrase “safe spaces” — where students feel comfortable making mistakes and learning from each other. 

“Having a diverse community with different lived experiences and perspectives will promote a culture of community across campus,” she said. 

Additionally, Beilock stated that other issues important to her are sustainability on campus and enhancing education and the research.

As Dartmouth’s first female president, Beilock said that her “identity as a mom, as a woman, as a researcher” is important to how she tackles her role as a leader. 

“[These identities are] part of how I lead and how I learn, and I’m proud to be the first,” Beilock said.