1. Student Rights
College officials have maintained that Dartmouth has no speech code, however, some recent incidents, including the closing of Zeta Psi Fraternity, have caused students concern.
A. What are your feelings about the current state of free speech at Dartmouth? If elected, what would you hope to change--if anything--regarding free speech at Dartmouth?
I am very concerned about the state of free speech at Dartmouth. At best, Dartmouth sponsors an improper speech code; at worst, the rules are even worse than a code, but operate as a wholly vague and discretionary set of rules to be administered at the whim of College authorities. Dartmouth’s speech rules mock the rule of law and the principles of freedom of speech. The pursuit of knowledge can only occur in a setting that protects freedom of speech, thought, and expression. As T.J. Rodgers recently summarized, “I believe there has been and continues to be a serious free speech problem at Dartmouth.” In fact, it appears that Dartmouth recently has removed from its official web site its materials related to its speech code, thus is it not even clear whether Dartmouth has any announced policy at all or whether speech is to be subject to the unrestricted case-by-case discretion of the administration. A system of vague and secret rules backed by arbitrary enforcement is contrary to the principles of free and robust speech to which Dartmouth should aspire.
If elected, I will propose that Dartmouth eliminate its current speech code and adopt the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as its rules governing freedom of speech, thought, and expression.
Students have complained about searching and seizure by overzealous security forces like Safety and Security and the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission.
B. Should students in College-owned housing enjoy the same rights and privileges as American citizens do under the Fourth Amendment?
Absolutely yes. In addition, I think that the College’s draconian punishment of Zeta Psi on the basis of a torn-up newsletter fished from its garbage can on private property with no warrant, probable cause or due process shows an alarming disrespect for student privacy and legal rights. Even if one is not troubled by the severity of the punishment itself, the means do not justify the ends.
2. Undergraduate Education
President Wright has said that Dartmouth is “a research university in all but name” (The Dartmouth 4/17/98). What do you believe the balance should be between undergraduate and graduate emphasis at Dartmouth?
Dartmouth should rededicate itself to the mission of excellence in undergraduate education. Dartmouth is unique among its Ivy League peers in its traditional dedication to the mission of undergraduate education and should embrace this distinctive vision, rather than simply becoming a second-rate Harvard. Dartmouth’s unique undergraduate focus is a source of strength in recruiting top students and faculty. Generations of Dartmouth students and alumni (including myself) have chosen to attend Dartmouth because of its intimate learning environment and unique dedication to undergraduate education. I know from my personal experience that there are many, many talented academics who relish the classroom experience; my proudest accomplishment as a professor was being voted “Professor of the Year” by my students a few years ago. Dartmouth need not surrender its unique undergraduate commitment in order to attract and retain the top professors in the land.
If elected to the Board, my first act as a Trustee will be to propose that the Board create a new Standing Committee on “Academic Mission and Quality” which will be dedicated to helping to steer Dartmouth’s academic course by ensuring that the mission of undergraduate teaching is the College’s primary mission and that financial priorities and faculty recruitment reflect this goal. Great teachers and mentors must be recognized and rewarded and faculty scholarship should reinforce Dartmouth’s undergraduate mission by being accessible and relevant to classroom instruction.
Dartmouth’s existing professional schools should retain their intimate size, unique focus, and teaching-oriented ethos as well.
More graduate schools would inevitably mean more graduate students—and more graduate teaching assistants. Dartmouth should not go down that road. Dartmouth professors, not inexperienced graduate teaching assistants, should teach Dartmouth students.
How would you rate the current athletic program at Dartmouth? Are too many resources being put into athletics, too few, or just enough? Do you believe Dartmouth’s current admissions process regarding athletes should be adjusted in any way?
I am disappointed by the current state of the Dartmouth athletic program and the lack of institutional commitment to its success. The moribund nature of several of Dartmouth’s flagship athletics programs is well-documented. Although Dartmouth has excelled in a few sports, most notably men’s and women’s hockey, the overall commitment to and quality of Dartmouth’s athletics program has declined in recent years. An article in the most recent issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine reports that a top-to-bottom assessment of all of Dartmouth’s sports programs demonstrates that during the past decade Dartmouth has slipped from second overall in the Ivy League in 1995 to next-to-last, ahead of only Columbia. Dartmouth finished last or second-to-last in 10 or the 30 sports in which it competes. See Brad Parks, “Framing the Letter,” Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, March/April 2005, page 24. Clearly there are deep-seated institutional problems with Dartmouth’s athletics programs that run through the entire athletic program, and not just its highest-profile programs.
The benefits to Dartmouth’s athletes of a commitment to excellence in athletics is obvious—athletics builds commitment, teamwork, and the pride and opportunity to represent Dartmouth on the field, court, or mat. Athletics plays a valuable role in building well-rounded students. But the benefits of athletics go beyond the athletes themselves. Athletics play a valuable role in uniting the students, alumni, faculty, and staff behind a common goal that builds unity, community, and school spirit. When sitting in the stands at Memorial Field, Red Rolfe Field, or Leede Arena, there are no Democrats or Republicans, Catholics or Protestants, just Dartmouth loyalists drawn together in a shared communal experience.
I vividly recall my Senior year, taking a break from working on my Senior Honors Thesis and huddling around a transistor radio in the Baker stacks with three classmates, as we listened to Dartmouth with two free throws to try to beat Brown and win the Ivy League Basketball Championship. I remember Mike Remlinger pitching a 2-hitter to outduel Michigan’s great Jim Abbott to win the opening regional game of the College World Series. Crisp fall afternoons at Memorial Field, frozen winter nights at Thompson Arena, and warm spring days at Rolfe field are among my richest memories of my time at Dartmouth. In fact, while I was at Dartmouth I was the football beat reporter for The Dartmouth and an announcer for men’s and women’s basketball and men’s baseball, illustrating the way in which participation in athletics touches the lives of athletes and non-athletes alike.
Athletics are also valuable in building alumni loyalty and pride. I know that I personally felt a surge of pride during Dartmouth’s run of success in football during the 1990s with Jay Fiedler at the helm. When I was in law school at the University of Virginia, Darmouth’s soccer team came down to play at Viriginia in the NCAA playoffs, which gave me an opportunity to reconnect with Dartmouth. When I was a Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School, I took an afternoon to go over to Harvard to watch us play them in baseball. It is simply reality, and empirical evidence supports it—one of the ways in which alumni connect with their alma mater is through their athletics programs.
Ivy League intercollegiate athletics are an integral part of the Dartmouth experience, and recently reported expressions of hostility toward Dartmouth’s football program Dartmouth’s Dean of Admissions demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the positive role that athletics can play in educating well-rounded students, building school spirit, and maintaining alumni loyalty. The notion that Ivy League competition could breed an unhealthy “culture” is, quite frankly, absurd stereotyping of athletes and athletics in general, and fails to appreciate the balance that Ivy League athletic programs strike between academics and athletics. Indeed, the rest of the nation admires the Ivy League for the healthy balance that it strikes between athletics and academics. Finally, athletics is one of the College’s most prominent faces, and if the College is going to do something, it should do it right and make a proper institutional commitment to providing the resources and institutional support to be competitive and to take pride in its athletic programs.
Dartmouth’s athletic program should be consistent with its overall academic mission, and I believe Ivy League competition strikes an appropriate balance between the two. A competitive and properly-emphasized athletic program reinforces Dartmouth’s educational mission.
Dartmouth is currently home to thirteen fraternities and only six sororities. This disparity makes for especially large female rush classes, straining sororities and detracting from their ability to develop sisterhood (The Dartmouth 2/3/05).
A. If elected, would you be in favor of lifting the SLI’s moratorium on new Greek houses--or at least on new sororities--so that greater gender equity can be achieved?
Yes. The administration should develop a more balanced position toward fraternities and sororities that restores students’ rights of freedom of association and speech. Dartmouth students are young adults, and Dartmouth should show greater respect for students ability to make adult choices regarding social and affiliative options and engage in less “social engineering” of students friendships and free time. The number of fraternities and sororities should be based on student demand, not on arbitrary decision by college bureaucrats as to what they believe to be the “right” number. Especially with regard to social and associative rights, the College’s policy must be guided by the preferences of the students themselves, and the College must do a better job in accommodating students’ preferences within the College’s governance scheme. Dartmouth should continue to develop alternative social and residential options, but the administration’s war against the fraternities and sororities must end.
B. What do you feel the role of the Greek system should be on campus? Do you see the Greeks as essential to the Dartmouth experience, or do you agree with President Wright’s 1999 declaration to end “the Greek system as we know it”?
I absolutely disagree with President Wright’s declaration to end “the Greek system as we know it” and the eventual elimination of single-sex Greek organization. The College should continue to develop alternative social options but should also recognize the important role played by sororities and fraternities in the educational and social options available to students. Fraternities and sororities, along with student clubs, teams, and other activities, play a valuable role in building Dartmouth’s rich community and school spirit. Sororities and fraternities also help to advance the College’s academic mission by contributing to deep friendships and collegiality that overcomes differences in background, and by creating a sense of shared experience that is stronger than political or ideological differences Dartmouth’s Greek system has always been characterized by its inclusiveness and openness, rather than a narrow exclusiveness, which helps to unite students and enrich the community. I have many great friends both who were and were not members of my fraternity, and I believe that student choices should be respected on this matter.
Quite frankly, I believe that what students do and with whom they decide to spend their personal time is largely none of the business of the College bureaucracy. Rather than trying to force-feed and herd students into college “approved” social activities, I think that the College should provide a wide range of social and residential options and respect student choice among them, and scale back its heavy-handed efforts to engineer only College-approved relationships. The rights of freedom of association should be restored to students.
5. Education (Two Part Answer)
Many students are concerned about recent increases in class sizes at Dartmouth. If elected, would you work to hire more undergraduate professors in the near future, especially in the subject areas under greatest student demand?
Dartmouth’s lack of focus on its core mission has resulted in confused financial priorities. The problem of classroom overcrowding and the inability to enroll in necessary courses is well-documented. According to public reports, spending on non-instructional employees has increased twice as fast as investment in Dartmouth’s faculty in recent years. The ratio of students to permanent faculty has worsened even as the number of College deans has proliferated, siphoning off precious resources that should be dedicated to classroom instruction. Rather than having the opportunity to learn under Dartmouth’s most distinguished professors, classes increasingly are taught by adjunct professors, post-doctoral fellows, and other temporary and inexperienced professors; in some departments, such as Government (my major as a student), the number of classes taught by Visiting, Adjunct, and other non-tenure track faculty appears to be as high as 30-35%, or perhaps even higher. See http://www.dartmouth.edu/~govt/faculty/. Sadly, even in those Departments, students still report overcrowded classrooms and an inability to enroll in necessary classes. See “Govy Gridlock” by Daniel Belkin ’08 (The Dartmouth, February 24, 2005).
When faced with a severe budget crisis two years ago, College leadership proposed to cut funding for the swim team, Sanborn Library, and the human biology program—-while simultaneously proposing the creation of a new Dean of Pluralism, with all of the bureaucratic trappings. The Editorial Board of The Dartmouth has protested “this …wanton expansion of administrative bureaucracy in a time of fiscal crisis.” “Verbum Ultimum” by Editorial Board of The Dartmouth (October 1, 2004). I agree.
Similarly, when the College announced its plan to “put an end to the single-sex fraternity and sorority system which has existed at the College for more than 150 years,” it also announced that they were “prepared to spend ‘tens of millions of dollars’ to finance the social and residential life changes, according to Wright, who said that the College will hope to purchase and refurbish the houses of the Greek organizations who currently live in privately-owned buildings.” See “Trustees to End Greek System ‘As We Know It’”, The Dartmouth (February 10, 1999).
In light of the College's more pressing financial priorities, such as increasing the number of full-time classroom teachers, I think both of these decisions were misguided and demonstrate a profound lack of recognition of the College’s core educational mission and student classroom experience. When the College makes a decision with financial and educational consequences as far-reaching as one to “end the Greek system ‘as we know it’”—-and to commit to spending “tens of millions of dollars” to do it—-I believe it should do so in collaboration with students and alumni, rather than issuing the order by fiat and committing itself to “weather the storm” of their opposition. Similarly, leaving aside the merits of creating a new Dean of Pluralism position, I cannot see that it is such a pressing priority that it justifies diverting funds from libraries and academic programs.
During my decade as a professor and senior governmental policy-maker, I personally have come to know many leaders of today’s Dartmouth faculty, and have heard their frustration at the diversion of resources from the academic programs of the College toward bureaucratic overhead and non-educational programming. I will work together with Dartmouth’s students, parents, and faculty to insure that Dartmouth’s financial priorities advance the College’s educational priorities.
Also, if elected, would you challenge the administration to increase faculty diversity, including gender, race and political orientation?
As for issues of diversity, Dartmouth’s rich spirit and deep sense of community may be what most of us appreciate most about Dartmouth. I am the first member of my family to attend college and the first person from my South Carolina public high school to attend an Ivy League institution. My background was somewhat different from that of many of my classmates. Yet when I showed up with my pack at the foot of Mt. Moosilauke for my Freshman Trip I was welcomed into the Dartmouth fold, just as generations of men and women of varying backgrounds have been welcomed in times before and since.
Moreover, this sense of community advances Dartmouth’s educational mission by creating friendships and collegiality that overcomes differences in background, and by creating a sense of shared experience that is stronger than political or ideological differences.
Over the past several years, however, Dartmouth’s leadership has turned its back on this great legacy. The administration has enlarged class sizes, starved the athletic program, and attacked the sororities and fraternities. The College has turned away from the students and alumni who have been the backbone of the Dartmouth experience for generations—the well-rounded, community-minded students who can look outside their narrow interests and come together in the great project of building Dartmouth and passing it onto the next generation. Rather than encouraging a communal learning environment, the College has sown a spirit of division and isolation. The result has been a weaker Dartmouth spirit and a more fragile intellectual learning environment. Diversity cannot be engineered, but must develop spontaneously from the voluntary interactions of Dartmouth’s intelligent and good-hearted students working together in the shared mission to improve Dartmouth.
At the same time, the College has failed in its most critical mission to cultivate intellectual diversity and free speech on campus. Current students and faculty have expressed concern about the lack of intellectual and ideological diversity among Dartmouth’s faculty and the administration’s commitment to protecting free speech. (See Dan Knecht ’05, “The Monolith on the Hill,” The Dartmouth, January 26, 2005; Remarks of Economics Professor Meir Kohn, http://www.dartlog.net/2005/01/professor-kohn-on-free-expression.php). For an institution of higher education, protection of freedom of speech and cultivation of intellectual diversity must be a priority issue.
6. Student Communication
To many students’ dismay, this year the Student Affairs Group, which was a committee of students who met with the trustees each year, became defunct. If elected, would you commit to working with Student Assembly to increase the communication between the Board of Trustees and students?
One of my great joys as a Professor is the opportunity to meet, work with, and mentor students. Dartmouth has one overriding mission—to provide the best educational experience for current and future generations of Dartmouth students. It is simply impossible to create the strongest Dartmouth possible for its students without institutionalized regular contact with its students and student leaders. Elimination of the Student Affairs Group is folly of the most profound degree and would certainly reinstate it if elected. I will also work to improve informal channels of communication between students and the Board, especially through the use of emails, blogs, and other new media. As with my own students, I will have an open door for communication with all Dartmouth students at all times.
In the fall of 2002, the administration unilaterally eliminated the swimming and diving teams. Afterwards, the Student Budget Advisory Committee was formed to involve students in budgetary decisions. To what extent should students be allowed to participate in administrative decisions? What mechanisms, if any, should exist for such participation?
The College exists to serve and educate the students. Students should be involved in all major College decisions, most important with respect to questions of budget and financial priorities. The Board holds final decision-making authority, of course, but its decisions should be informed by all College stakeholders, including most especially, students.
8. The Role of Positive Traditions
In recent years, the College has restricted long-standing student traditions like field rushing or throwing tennis balls at the Princeton hockey game. What do you feel is the role of traditions at Dartmouth?
Dartmouth’s inimitable spirit is built from the many communal experiences that bring us together and unite us across the generations. Bonfires and ice sculptures, Saturday afternoon football games, student clubs, sports practices, hiking in Dartmouth’s majestic wilderness, and sororities and fraternities all contribute to building up the rich sense friendship and camaraderie that comprise the Dartmouth spirit. Dartmouth alumni are distinguished from other institutions by their commitment to Dartmouth’s legacy and traditions.
This sense of community and shared tradition stamps its indelible mark on all of us with a passion and sense of commitment that no other educational institution can match. As John Sloan Dickey observed in an address to Dartmouth alumni, “Let us all…acknowledge that today, as yesterday, this college is the beneficiary of a heritage great in both purpose and spirit. Most especially, being products of this place, let us never lose our awareness…that we are custodians of Dartmouth’s immortality and individuality.”
I believe that Dartmouth should take pride in its positive traditions and rich legacy and use them to guide its future. Dartmouth’s rich sense of tradition and connection with its past is a source of strength and binds Dartmouth students and alumni across the generations. Dartmouth should neither ignore nor fixate on the problems of its past, but should look to its positive traditions for guidance in improving Dartmouth’s future. Dartmouth’s ability to maintain and adapt its traditions generation after generation is a testament to the College and the ties that bind us together in the ongoing mission of improving Dartmouth.
9. Information Session
Would you be willing to come to campus for an information session with students (yes/no)?
Yes—schedule permitting! I will also be happy to answer any email questions that students may have at tjz2@ law.georgetown.edu.
10. Optional Question
Can you share with us some stories from your experience here at Dartmouth?
I have been blessed by Dartmouth. I am the first member of my family to attend college and I was also the first student from my high school ever to attend an Ivy League institution. My years at Dartmouth inspired a passion for education that eventually culminated in my decision to become a law professor. I, like many of you, chose to attend Dartmouth because of its commitment to undergraduate education and to the development of well-rounded students. Dartmouth’s professors shared that mission, infusing the College with a culture of dedication to undergraduate teaching and allowing me direct access to even Dartmouth’s most senior and distinguished faculty.
Since graduating from Dartmouth, I have attended and taught at several universities and have come to appreciate the unique educational value of Dartmouth’s intimate learning environment versus large, impersonal, research-oriented institutions. Professors such as Roger Masters, Colin Campbell, Vincent Starzinger, and many others—every generation of Dartmouth students has its favorites—exemplified the unique intellectual spirit of Dartmouth College, not only as superb classroom teachers and leading scholars, but also as concerned and involved student mentors. These great teachers continue to inspire me when I step into the classroom every morning to teach my own students, and they remain the role models that I strive to emulate.
But much of the Dartmouth experience lies outside the classroom in the deep friendships and shared experiences that we form during our time at Dartmouth. When I was married ten years ago, my groomsmen were my two brothers and three Dartmouth friends. Dartmouth remains the formative experience of my adult life.
The opportunity and challenge to run as a petition candidate and to connect with the legions of concerned, thoughtful, and passionate alumni and students across the country has reminded me of what a truly special place Dartmouth is. Day after day petitions have rolled in from across the globe and I always pause to look at the return addresses to see the variety of life experiences of Dartmouth alumni. Big cities and small towns. Professionals, businesspeople, military veterans—even a retired United States Senator. Many of them include letters and cards that express concerns and thoughtful ideas for how to make Dartmouth a stronger institution. Whether I succeed or not, the experience of running as a petition candidate and the encouragement and support I have received from students and alumni has reminded me of Dartmouth’s great strength and heritage.