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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Letter to the Editor: Beilock’s Pitiful Apology

One alumnus calls for the resignation of the College President and any sympathetic administrators after the College’s response to the May 1 protest.

Re: Beilock: College President Apologizes for Community Harm

As a graduate of Dartmouth and a steady supporter of the College since I bid farewell to Hanover, I was deeply ashamed and embarrassed to read reports of College President Sian Leah Beilock’s violent, incompetent and brutal response to a peaceful expression of free speech on campus. I, like many others, watched as arrests of students, journalists and even a history professor specializing in Jewish studies were carried out by local and state police, who were all too eager to engage in inexplicable thuggery at the behest of the College.

The College’s response to the May 1 protests, a part of a wave that has been sweeping campuses across the United States, was especially petty and bungling, even when compared to Dartmouth’s peer institutions. It has wrought unprecedented violence upon the Dartmouth community under the lamentably misguided leadership of Beilock and the Board of Trustees. This self-defeating attempt to bring “safety” to campus has, in fact, resulted in mistrust, confusion, fear and dismay.

Early responses by the College administration appeared cowardly, refusing to adequately defend the right to free speech or call for charges to be dropped against student journalists swept up in the authorities’ gleeful abuse of the law. In addition, the administration failed to apologize for the misuse of student resources in the rounding up of protesters in Dartmouth Outing Club vehicles to be hauled off to jail for the crime of standing on the Green.

Beilock’s recent letter to The Dartmouth, in which something of an apology is hidden deeply within a defense of her “impossible decision,” seems much more focused on managing her own reputation and justifying a choice that she does not regret. It insults our intelligence. 

There is no attempt to resolve the contradiction inherent in both supporting a decision to prevent potential violence from occurring and upholding the decision that caused the violence it was meant to prevent. It was a bad decision that achieved an even worse outcome. It is baffling to “stand by” those decisions or, as Beilock appears to do in her letter, pretend it was courageous. In her profile on X, formerly known as Twitter, Beilock describes herself as a “cognitive scientist who studies why people choke under pressure and how to fix it.” Doctor, heal thyself.

It is unclear to me how Beilock will ever regain the trust of the community after this vulgar betrayal of values, or how the Trustees will rebut accusations that it works to advance the interests of powerful donors rather than the centuries-old mission of the College. One is left to hope that there are some decent people among this gang of vandals, those who will do the hard work of repairing the damage that has been done.

Those responsible for this woeful chapter in Dartmouth’s long history ought to do the right thing and resign, beginning with Beilock.

Aaron Schlosser is a member of the Class of 2007. Letters to the editor represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.