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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

More than 4,200 people sign pro-Beilock letter

Dartmouth alumni circulated a letter to show support for College President Sian Leah Beilock’s response to the May 1 protest.

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As of May 23, more than 4,200 Dartmouth “alumni, parents and friends” have signed a letter in support of College President Sian Leah Beilock’s response to the May 1 protest on the Green. 

The letter, which is posted on Change.org, represents one side of the debate surrounding Beilock’s swift response to the encampment, which has mobilized faculty, alumni, students and other community members. Throughout the month, the Dartmouth community has rallied for and against the President — in letters to the editor, open letters to Beilock and other forums.

Eric Dezenhall ’84 said he signed the letter to show that there were members of the Dartmouth community that supported Beilock’s decision. 

“I wanted Trustees, alumni and students to know that there were alumni out there who believed this organized lunacy [of protesters] was not what it seemed, and that President Beilock was navigating this as effectively as she could in a very tough situation,” he said.

Some said they signed the petition because they believed Beilock’s actions protected the Jewish community. Signatory Kyle Gore ’84 said it is “outrageous” that some students have experienced antisemitism on campus. 

“Leadership often entails being brave enough to do what is right,” he said. “[Beilock] has a duty to protect every member of the Dartmouth community, which includes Jewish students who have been ostracized merely because of their religion.”

Linda Cronin ’84, the letter’s sponsor and first signatory, wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth that she “felt compelled to speak for” Jewish students on campus who are “too intimidated to speak for themselves.”

“It has not been that long since the Nazis tried to kill the grandparents of these Jewish students during the attempted genocide of Jews,” Cronin wrote. “Antisemitism is dangerous and it is always wrong.”  

Some signatories of the pro-Beilock letter said they thought Beilock’s actions supported free and respectful dialogue. Gore suggested the College facilitate debates about the conflict in the Middle East through campus-wide forums. He also emphasized the importance of distinguishing between hateful and critical speech.

“First and most important, [student protesters] should not be given space and time to engage in destructive actions which threaten the well-being of anyone else,” he said. “They should be given space and time to engage in open debate cogently and respectfully.”

Cronin also wrote that chants during the May 1 protest were harmful to some Jewish students. She wrote that she believed protesters “chanted for the genocide of Jews.”

“​​We know of Jewish students who are intimidated and scared by these ongoing statements, and other students who feel like a small, organized and vocal minority have seized the agenda on campus,” she wrote.

The chants generated controversy on campus. On May 4, 27 Jewish faculty members signed a letter to the President condemning her actions. 

In a written statement to The Dartmouth, signatory Menucha Saitowitz ’10 wrote that she joined the letter because Beilock has been an advocate of dialogue. 

“President Beilock has been an incredible role model for pushing for dialogue and understanding since the beginning of the conflict, in contrast to many of her peers,” she wrote. 

Other responses to Beilock’s actions include the faculty vote on May 20 — which narrowly passed to censure the President — and a slight majority of students voting “no confidence” in Beilock on May 15, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth.