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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student and alumni groups react to May 1 protest

Campus organizations, including the Dartmouth New Deal Coalition, Dartmouth Student Government and Hillel at Dartmouth, released statements regarding the pro-Palestinian protest on May 1.

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Over the past two weeks, student organizations have released statements and hosted initiatives in response to the events of May 1 — when police arrested 89 individuals at a pro-Palestinian protest on the Green. 

More than 15 organizations have issued statements on the protest and arrests. While many student and alumni organizations have condemned the administration’s actions, others have praised College President Sian Leah Beilock’s response.

On May 2, the Graduate Organized Laborers of Dartmouth-United Electrical Workers — a union composed of graduate student workers at the College — released a joint statement with the Student Worker Collective at Dartmouth that condemned Beilock’s “decision to arrest … peaceful protesters.” The statement, which was released on Instagram, also called for the “immediate resignation of [Beilock],” according to GOLD-UE member Rendi Rogers.

During a general body meeting on May 6, GOLD-UE adopted an official position that called for “all charges against protesters on May 1 as well as those against the two students arrested in the fall to be dropped,” and for the College to “disclose all funding sources,” Rogers said. “At least five” union members were arrested during the protest, according to Rogers. 

The New Deal Coalition — a student activist group that advocates for divestment from companies affiliated with Israel, among other goals — wrote in a May 4 Instagram statement that the College “refused to engage in good faith dialogue” with protesters “before, during and after the encampment.”

“[Beilock] authorized state troopers in riot gear to disrupt and destroy a peaceful, pro-Palestine demonstration and assume control over a place historically used for such protests and expressions,” the post stated. 

The New Deal Coalition is also calling for Beilock’s resignation and “the protection of First Amendment rights” by the College, according to member Calvin George ’24. This includes dropping the charges against all arrested individuals and lifting their bans from the Green, George said.

“We believe that [Beilock] has done irreversible damage to our community, and she is not fit to be the President,” George said.

In a May 9 email to members of Hillel at Dartmouth — the College’s center for Jewish life — Hillel Rabbi Seth Linfield wrote that the “recent anti-Israel encampment” and “hurtful chants” on May 1 “left deep wounds.”

“Our students are more palpably anxious today than they have been at any time since Oct. 7, a reflection of the tumultuous world beyond Hanover,” Linfield wrote. 

He added that Beilock’s “twin commitments to brave speech and civil conduct have bolstered our students’ safety” and invited students to sign a petition in support of Beilock. 

“I am grateful for the administration’s determination to uphold the College’s code of conduct and remind us that hate has no home here,” Linfield wrote.  

On May 2, Dartmouth Student Government sent an email statement to all undergraduate students stating that they were “alarmed and afraid for the safety of students” after state troopers arrived on the Green. DSG condemned the “banning of arrested students and faculty from certain spaces, including the Green, Parkhurst Hall and [14 Webster Ave.].”

Four days later, DSG announced a student referendum of no confidence in Beilock. Voting — which began on May 9 and will last through noon on May 15 — is open to all undergraduate students. 

Many other student organizations also spoke out after the May 1 protest.

WebDCR — the College’s student-run radio station — released an Instagram statement “in support of freedom of press and expression on college campus.” The statement also noted that WDCR “stand[s] with our fellow college radio stations around the country, in particular WKCR and WHRB” — which have covered protests at Columbia University and Harvard University, respectively. 

Several other student groups — including the Central Graduate Student Council, Dartmouth Asian/American Studies Collective, the Dartmouth Brazilian Society, the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council, Native Americans at Dartmouth and Spare Rib magazine — released statements condemning the administration’s response to the May 1 protest on their Instagram accounts. 

Alumni groups — including Dartmouth Alumni for Palestine, the Dartmouth Association of Latino Alumni, the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association and a group of Jewish alumni — also released statements criticizing the College’s responses to the protest and expressing their concern for freedom of expression on campus. 

Other alumni groups have expressed their support for the College’s actions. In a Letter to the Editor, Brian Taylor ’06 and Joie Jager-Hyman ’00 — co-presidents of the Dartmouth Jewish Alumni Group — voiced their support for Beilock’s “courageous response” to the protests.

While many students and organizations spoke out following the protest, some students said open discussion on campus has felt constrained since May 1. In a Letter to the Editor, Hillel president Cara Marantz ’25 and Chabad president Mia Steinberg ’25 wrote that they were “alarm[ed]” at the “withering of campus discourse.”

Hillel vice president of religion Jonas Rosenthal ’25 said some Hillel members have found that “expressing their opinion in this climate is difficult.”

“Whether they are vehemently one direction or another, they feel they can’t voice that without being tokenized or demonized,” Rosenthal said. “Having a space like Hillel that is safe and supportive is really important.”

In an interview with The Dartmouth, Marantz said Hillel hopes to provide a “safe space” for Jewish students, who hold a “wide variety of viewpoints and experiences” following the protest.

“There are some people who in the days since the protests have experienced antisemitism, and some have not, but there is definitely a wide array of responses,” she said.

Marantz added that she believes Hillel is a place where Jewish students feel they can “speak freely.” 

“Regardless of their perspectives, people feel very comfortable expressing their opinions here, which is good,” Marantz added.