As FIRE reported yesterday, Dartmouth College cancelled classes Wednesday in the wake of a controversial student protest that sparked online threats against the demonstrators and serious debates over the administration’s response.
Our own Robert Shibley covers the case today in a new article for The Daily Caller, explaining how the college replaced those cancelled classes with "alternative programming" designed to promote civil discourse on campus. The school’s decision, along with the protest itself, prompts serious questions, and Robert argues that the administration’s response sends a message "that incivility and nastiness, even just online, can get dramatic results."
The college’s campus newspaper, The Dartmouth, echoed that theme in an editorial earlier this week. In that piece, the editorial board called the protest "utterly unbecoming of Dartmouth students" and labeled the threats that it sparked online as equally out of bounds. In a strong statement of support for reasoned discussion, the piece argues: "Our community adheres to much higher standards, and we should be facilitating conversations that acknowledge a range of viewpoints, even if we do not agree with all of them."
In a follow up editorial yesterday, The Dartmouth reiterated its concerns, arguing that
From this collection of events, the message seems to be that, if you fly a political banner, are sufficiently angry and manage to break enough College rules, you can gain a stranglehold over the administration.
In bowing to such pressure, the paper argues that the school has allowed "a handful of students" to "hijack the campus conversation." Calling the decision to cancel classes "questionable," The Dartmouth‘s latest piece argues that true civil discourse will only be possible if "our student body can learn to live as a community that truly accepts and respects each other."
For more on the controversy and the reaction on campus, we encourage you to read this latest commentary!