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A Culture of Free Speech:

Just a final thought that bears on the context of the recent Dartmouth imbroglio, as well as the possible larger implications of the story. This is the College's recent history of actually punishing students for speech of which the College disapproves. As T.J. Rodgers, my colleague on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees put it, "To be clear: I believe there has been and continues to be a serious free speech problem at Dartmouth." I think this unfortunate history may provide a broader context for understanding this most recent incident and what it says about the perils of campus speech restrictions more generally.

Dartmouth's recent history on matters of free speech is lamentable and well-known. Almost 20 years ago in a series of cases Dartmouth's President James O. Freedman attempted to bully, intimidate, and even expel members of the Dartmouth Review in a effort to destroy the paper's existence (more here). (For the record, I was not a member of the Review at Dartmouth or otherwise affiliated). Freedman's attack rested on vicious distortions, half-truths, and personal attacks. The students were prosecuted and convicted by a ludicrous college disciplinary proceeding of "vexatious oral exchange," a heretofore unknown offense. Later, dorm room deliveries of the Review were banned, in a superficially neutral policy with one clear target.

A few years ago the College permanently derecognized Zeta Psi fraternity again articulating an ex post speech restriction. This punishment and its justification led the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to downgrade Dartmouth from a "green" to a "yellow" rating for creation of a speech code. Last spring the speech code simply disappeared from the College's website with no warning or explanation--leading FIRE to reinstate its green rating, but failing to clarify the College's policy on free speech. Zeta Psi continues to this day to remain derecognized by the College. Although the fraternity has continued to function, it has been stripped of its ability to legally recruit new members and to allow them to reside in the fraternity, the house itself remains a gloomy reminder of violating Dartmouth's ad hoc speech policy.

The latest instance follows in the context of this history. Given Dartmouth's track record of punishing speech by students with kangaroo-court college disciplinary proceedings, and doing so by ad hoc standards invented and applied retroactively, it may seem more than plausible that a student might feel intimidated by perceiving himself to be in the College's crosshairs.

Things have not always been thus at Dartmouth. Under the leadership of President Ernest Martin Hopkins, in the mid-century Dartmouth was a national leader in exemplifying the value of free speech on campus. Over howls of protest from media, alumni, and faculty (universities were different places then), Hopkins permitted Communists (including CPUSA leader William Z. Foster) to be invited to speak, indeed as Stearns Morse relates it, "more important, the choice of these speakers was generally left ot vaious student organizations." In the 1930s, The Dartmouth (the campus daily) editorialized in favor of a number of controversial causes, including striking miners in a nearby Vermont town. Although this upset a wealthy donor to the College, Hopkins refused to censor the students in order to preserve the potential for the gift (universities were very different places then), but merely observed "[W]e've lived with and shall keep on living with it."

In 1953 Presient Eisenhower chose Dartmouth's Commencement as the site for his famous "Don't Join the Book Burners" speech, calling for freedom of speech rather than censorship of Communist books and ideas on campus.

This is not intended in the slightest as a comment on this case and no one involved here was around for the prior incidents. But I think that there is a larger point here. Institutions can seek to create and cultivate a culture of free speech or they can develop a culture of censorship. President Hopkins left a legacy of tolerance and freedom that persevered for decades after his departure. President Freedman created a legacy of intimidation and prevarication that continues to hang like a dark cloud over Dartmouth today. The College has never renounced its use of disciplinary proceedings in these cases and indeed continued to defend its actions, even when defeated in court. The knowledge that censorship, intimidation, and disciplinary proceedings are available as part of a university's bag of tools for dealing with unpleasant speech undoubtedly chills speech. But more fundamentally it also creates an environment of distrust and mistrust, of background malice and threat, where students know and fear that speech or associations today may be punished according to arbitrary rules and punishments announced tomorrow.

Dartmouth Alum:
[Cross-commented from prior thread, with an added reply to "Dartmouth Grad '05" and added response to Todd's newest post.]

[OLD POST]
As a Chi Gam brother, Dartmouth alum, and erstwhile campaigner against the SLI (and voter for insurgent candidates), I've gotta say I find Stork's version of the events a pretty clear distortion.

The key to understanding the entire story, even take Stork's facts as true (his facts, but not necessarily his inferences), are these lines from his post:


I privately emailed my fraternity, Gamma Delta Chi, asking my friends to consider signing the petition, or to at least familiarize themselves with the facts of the issue. As the president of the fraternity and friend of the brothers, I expected my email to remain within reasonable confidence, and I feel certain that it did.

* * *

Next Mr. Spalding began questioning me about my personal life, including my membership in student groups. He had made clear to me that he knew which groups I belonged to, what positions I held . . . .


So this is how things worked at Chi Gam (the baseball, tennis, swimming frat) when I was there. Some volunteer activity comes up -- giving money to the school, helping run a booth at a fair, etc. -- that no one would ever bother to sober up enough to involve themselves with. Then an email comes from the frat president saying, "It is absolutely imperative that at least five brothers show up to the fair" or "I want 100% contributions from Chi Gam." Much grousing goes on, and half of what he asks for gets done, except from pledges, where 100% gets done (with somewhat less grousing). The president is speaking not as your friend, but as the head of your organization, with various disciplinary powers (mostly revolving around making you drink at meetings).

Roughly the same shakedown occurs in every organization (not just Greek ones) at Dartmouth when something has to get done. Usually, the shakedowns are done at the behest of the administration. But sometimes they're done in opposition, as during the height of the SLI, where we would routinely get marching orders to go to this rally, or shout out "LEST THE OLD TRADITIONS FAIL!" when singing the alma mater, or whatever. Again, this was not the equivalent of a friend emailing friends; it was more like your supervisor telling you to buy his son's chocolates.

I can only imagine that in GDE, which was always a rougher frat than Chi Gam (more hazing, more drinking, more fighting, and significantly stronger unity, since it represented just one varsity sport -- football), that presidential orders were obeyed somewhat more than they were at other orgs.

The next critical fact is that like everywhere else, at Dartmouth emails ("blitzes") get forwarded lightning-fast. Even "top secret" house emails were leaked within minutes to every other frat, and from there to everyone on campus, and then from a snitch to the administration. Every frat president -- every student -- would know that sending out a mass email meant absolutely no privacy.

So here's what I think happened. The "intimidation" started with Stork, who at the very least had suasion over GDE and the football team. He basically sent out quasi-orders saying "do not vote for the new constitution." Probably with a request to get others to do the same. "As the president of the fraternity" he expected to be obeyed (especially in such a trivial effort as this, one that coincided with the frat's interest). Stork also held positions at other organizations (at the very least the IFC [Inter-Fraternity Council], presumably others at well). The administration presumably was concerned that he would use those positions as well to send out "encouraging" emails to his "friends."

The administration's concern would not have been that he was making the troops march -- they like that; the heads of orgs serve as liaisons who can keep the students in line in a way the administration cannot -- but rather that he was making them march against the administration's interests. So they called him in and probably asked him whether it was appropriate for him to be pushing his subordinates around like that. They then mention that he's in other positions -- "We know you're VP of the IFC -- have you told them they have to oppose the constitution, too?"

Were they trying to muscle him? Sure. Were they secretly reading his email? Of course not. (And Stork's credibility is highly undermined by the suggestion that they were.) Were they threatening to go after him where he lives? Ha! All they were doing is trying to make him sweat. Which is fairly SOP for college administrators when someone publicly criticizes them -- they call the student in to talk about the problem and make him feel uncomfortable about it. Does it have a chilling effect? Sure. But mostly because it's just uncomfortable to have some older than you patronizingly question your beliefs. Would it suck to be a football player who'd never been bullied in his life (except while a pledge in the frat he now controlled) suddenly to get some bullying by the administration? Surely. I imagine that sense of powerlessness is the main part of Stork's anger, not this "inquisition," this trampling of "sacred freedoms."

Also, if the administration were merely trying to intimidate the troublemakers, why would they single out Stork and not, say, Dan Linsalata?

As a final note -- isn't it just a little depressing that in his cri du coeur, in his penultimate resounding paragraph, Stork declares that Spalding "affectively threatened those freedoms which ought to be sacred"? I'm sure this post is riddled with typos, but if I were making a public statement as hardcore as Stork's, I'd definitely proof it a little more closely.

[TODD'S NEW POST]
Todd tries to contextualize this in light of the College's harassment of the Review and the derecognition of Zeta Psi. That makes some sense, I suppose, as an outside observer. It makes little sense, though, as an effort to understand Stork's inner mental state. Maybe to someone who's long viewed Dartmouth as a political struggle, the derecognition of Zete was a censorship of political speech. Anyone who has recently been a student at Dartmouth knows otherwise.

What Zete got booted for was speech, but it was a lewd newsletter that called another student a whore and detailed her (extensive) sexual exploits with various brothers in the house. The newsletter ran contrary to the sex attitudes the school wanted people to have; it also served as a pretext for derecognition at a time when the administration was trying more actively to kill frats. (There was also an element of willfulness to the whole thing; Zete ran a second, even more prurient, newsletter after receiving complaints about the first, and, as I recall, refused to apologize.) The whole thing was a fiasco and it probably violated Dartmouth's commitment to free speech. But it wasn't a case of Zete being targeted for campus political reasons (except to the extent that sexual norms were a campus political issue). That is, it wasn't a newsletter trashing the SLI ("Student Life Initiative" -- a social reprogramming project) or President Wright.

The stuff with the Review so far predated the SLI that when I was on campus ('98-'02), it would not have been something that people off the Review were sweating. Moreover, the Review incidents stemmed again from national socio-political issues (race, sex, religion, war, etc.) not from campus political ones, except insofar as the two coincided (as in the case of, say, a racist professor). Publicly criticizing the administration has never led to disciplinary action, except when coupled with some sort of hijincks.

So I find it highly unlikely that, unless Stork's email were filled with lewd pictures or criticisms of a minority faculty member or some such added factor, these prior incidents would've worried him.

[DARTMOUTH GRAD '05's COMMENT]

DG05 complains about power imbalance. Of course there's a power imbalance. But if one is concerned about compulsion in this story, my guess is that he should be more concerned about Stork's email than about Spalding calling Stork in. Stork plainly wasn't cowed -- he continued to post about the incident and heaped more accusations on -- whereas I'm quite confident that many members of GDE felt obliged to get involved in an issue they otherwise would've been indifferent to.

Of course, if one has special fear of administrative control of campus culture, rather than fraternity control of campus culture, it makes sense to focus on Spalding, although I really don't think what he did comes close to being "intimidation" in any meaningful sense. Also, if one is results oriented and just wants to make sure that the constitution doesn't pass, it's good to focus on Spalding . . . .
8.19.2006 10:45am
Dan Collins (mail):
I think that this is pretty pie-in-the-sky. I can't remember ever once taking seriously as an injunction the advice of my frat pres. How is he going to know what I vote? Do I surrender my agency from a desire to fit in? Not a chance.

"What Zete got booted for was speech, but it was a lewd newsletter that called another student a whore and detailed her (extensive) sexual exploits with various brothers in the house. The newsletter ran contrary to the sex attitudes the school wanted people to have; it also served as a pretext for derecognition at a time when the administration was trying more actively to kill frats."

The newsletter ran contrary to sex attitudes that the school wanted people to have and served as a pretext. Yes, precisely. So, given that the College saw fit to boot the Zete over an internal communication because it was convenient to an overall design. By all means, let's inaugurate standards of mental hygiene and then utilize them to get rid of organizations that we dislike on campus. It's all about suasion, not intimidation.

"Stork plainly wasn't cowed" because evidence of his having been cowed would presumably consist in his having desisted from criticizing, in which case we wouldn't know about this sorry episode.

"[A]ffectively" . . . ah, yes: the argumentum ad orthographem.

Let's turn this around. Who should have known better? Who should have behaved like a grown-up?
8.19.2006 11:37am
AppSocRes (mail):
As an outsider, I've got to say my first reaction to VP Spalding's little performance was that it sounded exactly like a parody of a Gestapo officer in a WW II movie: Gestapo Officer points to newspaper headline about Nazi atrocities in American newspaper on his desk. Then addresses American foreign correspondent who has been brought in for a "discussion": Vee are not happy mit your Yankee impudence. Vee know who your friends are! Vee know vere to find you. Cherman kultur's patience is limited, etc., etc."
8.19.2006 11:45am
Kevin P. (mail):

Things have not always been thus at Dartmouth. Under the leadership of President Ernest Martin Hopkins, in the mid-century Dartmouth was a national leader in exemplifying the value of free speech on campus. Over howls of protest from media, alumni, and faculty (universities were different places then), Hopkins permitted Communists...


Hasn't it been always the case that free speech on campus really means free speech for lefties only?
8.19.2006 12:18pm
Dartmouth Grad '05:
Dartmouth Alum:

How does the effectiveness of Spalding's bullying affect whether he should be reprimanded for it? Just because Stork was not intimidated does not mean it was ok for Spalding to try to intimidate him.

I think Todd is right in pointing out these earlier incidents; this latest episode is just more of the same. Dartmouth's administration often does what it wants, how it wants, with little regard to student or alumni opposition. It was only a few years ago that, in the same fiscal year that the administration cut the swim team over budget concerns, it created a new dean slot and hired someone to fill it. It's as though even the appearance of propriety is too much trouble.
8.19.2006 1:47pm
Bluto's Benevolent Twin (mail):
GDE is the football house? When did that happen?
8.19.2006 2:27pm
Zywicki (mail):
BBT:
My understanding is GDE became the football house after Beta was permanently derecognized several years ago as well (I don't recall why). At that point the Betas block-rushed GDE or something like that. Unlike Zete, Beta has essentially ceased to exist as anything but an alumni club for several years and its house is currently occupied by a sorority.
8.19.2006 3:04pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
"Stork plainly wasn't cowed" because evidence of his having been cowed would presumably consist in his having desisted from criticizing, in which case we wouldn't know about this sorry episode.


Why do you say that Stork wasn't cowed? According to his account, as a result of the meeting he deliberately kept a low profile and didn't make waves until after he had graduated, at which point he spoke up because he felt that the administration no longer had any power to make trouble for him.

If Stork's account is accurate, I'd say what the Dartmouth administration did wasn't "censorship" per se, but it definitely was "intimidation" ... effective intimidation, at that.
8.19.2006 6:11pm
Dartmouth Alum:
@ Mike G:

You wrote: "According to his account, as a result of the meeting he deliberately kept a low profile and didn't make waves until after he had graduated . . . ."

I don't see where he said that (maybe I'm missing something). The chronology as I follow it is this: He was called in by the administration because of "an article in the April 25, 2006, issue of The Dartmouth [the school paper]." Strangely, the dissent-suppressing SS administration waited until June 7, 2006 to call him in. Stork graduated on June 11. (Exams ended June 6.) Now you can tell me that the reason the president of GDE didn't get politically active during that four-day period was because he was terrified -- we can also believe in the Tooth Fairy. Or we can operate in the world as it is, and realize that no one at Dartmouth, especially not frat members and especially not GDE frat members, is doing anything but partying and celebrating the end of college.

@ DG05:

The effectiveness seems pretty important if the question is whether the administration is chilling speech, isn't it? Unless you believe the administration should not be allowed to talk to student leaders who criticize its policies and attempt to convince them, isn't the precise question whether those conversations are "intimidating" rather than just "persuasive"? Or do you believe that school administrations should be totally passive receptors of the students' (which students'?) preferences?

As for lumping it in with Todd's other examples, come on. If you are indeed a Dartmouth alum, I would think that you'd be smart enough (and familiar enough with Dartmouth's culture) to know the difference b/t (a) being suspended; (b) being expelled; (c) having your frat derecognized; and (d) having to talk to an administrator for half an hour. You should also have the good sense to realize that Stork is plainly lying when he claims that he didn't expect anyone to forward his email.

@ Dan:

I'm not criticizing his ideas based on his spelling, I'm criticizing his writing based on it. It's disappointing when a Dartmouth alum can't be bothered to proof a public document like that.

As for your argument that no frat member ever "surrender[ed] [his] agency from a desire to fit in," I just don't know what to make of it, except to assume that you're making a joke. Or are you serious? Did you go to Dartmouth, or some school with a radically different Greek life? At Dartmouth, frats are a pretty serious affair. If you don't think that anyone ever did something he otherwise wouldn't've to fit in at a frat, you know nothing about Dartmouth frats and nothing about GDE (or XGE or Theta Delt or any of the other "hard" frats).

I rather suspect you may be projecting the adult, independent self you have today into your college self.
8.19.2006 6:31pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Hasn't it been always the case that free speech on campus really means free speech for lefties only?"

It was never as bad as it is today. We never had speech codes in my day and no one was afraid to speak up about anything. Today universities seem like the least free places in America. As for Dartmouth, my daughter went there and she tells me she couldn't find a history class that didn't constantly bash America and white people. In one anthropology class, the professor told the class that it would be better if all humanity were wiped off the planet. One of the students asked, "Why don't you commit suicide?" Now parents are paying about $40k a year for their children to go to Ivy League schools. That's a lot of money for watered down scholarship and indoctrination.

I just started rereading the "Closing of the American Mind." The author Bloom says one black student [Alan Keyes] had his life threatened by a Cornell professor when Keyes refused to join a demonstration. The college did nothing. But Keys did get to transfer to Harvard.
8.19.2006 8:46pm
Dartmouth Alum:
@ A. Zarkov: I'm disappointed to hear your daughter's experience with Dartmouth's history department, which remains far and away one of the least PC and best departments at the College. Particularly, that she missed out on David Lagomarsino (lauded by the Dartmouth Review as "not afraid to buck the trend of political correctness"), Heide Whelan (DR: "presents a balanced and sound view of Soviet history"), or Ken Shewmaker (DR: teaches a course "not . . . to overlook"). I found Prof. Lagomarsino ("Lago") and Prof. Whelan to be superb professors and neither of them bashed America or white people. Indeed, quite the contrary. Roberta Stewart, who taught a Classics course on the Roman Empire, was also fantastic, although something of a leftist.

As a government / philosophy major, I wasn't able to take as many history courses as I would've liked, but those I took were wonderful and not in the least tainted by politics. It's unfortunate that your daughter didn't get more guidance on what classes to take.
8.19.2006 10:44pm
Waldensian (mail):
I suppose it's natural for alumni of Dartmouth to discuss the (apparently execrable?) state of free expression at that institution. But just for the record, there's no reason for the rest of us to care, right?

The so-called "free expression" issues at stake at Dartmouth are no different from, and in my view hardly more important than, what might be encountered in any social club, church, or other private association of people with differing viewpoints. E.g., if the priest at your church doesn't like you advocating for abortion rights, and says nasty things to you in front of the congregation in an effort to "chill your speech," I, um, don't really care, and can see no reason that I should care.

Commenters may talk about "censorship" and free expression, but of course this entire affair is in no way a debate about actual First Amendment rights being infringed. Nobody is being fined or jailed by the government, obviously. Instead, it's about whether some people like the way their private club is being governed.

I trust the market. If the market doesn't like Dartmouth's heavy handedness toward free expression, Dartmouth will eventually go down the tubes. On the other hand, if 18-year-olds and their parents want to pay tons of money to attend a place that stifles viewpoints, Dartmouth will thrive. Apparently the latter has already happened. Dartmouth has apparently become sort of like a bad homeowners' association, vetoing an annoying homeowner's attempt to paint his mailbox blue.

Yawn. It is a small college, but there are those who are bored by it.
8.19.2006 11:52pm
Dan Collins (mail):
Dartmouth Alum--

I didn't say that NO Greek member ever did so, but, yes, I was a Zete. I was also a "neb." I showed up when I felt like it, took some abuse from those who thought I ought to be more reliable and with the program, but also got involved in stuff that other people didn't want to do . . . like swabbing the basement floor that was so sticky that you could pass out in a standing position and not topple over and carrying a bucket around to pledges on Hell Night so they could puke.

I had a core of good friends there. Had a social life outside of my fraternity as well, some of which featured buddies across the road at the Tabard. Lived off campus in Vermont, commuted over the river. Could not have given a rodent's tookus about any kind of political advice dished out by my bros, and I didn't get too upset about the abuse that they dished out regarding my contrariness. It just wasn't that important.

On the other hand, if I were invited into a meeting like that, which is awfully like an ambush, I would have been intimidated and completely outraged at the same time. If I didn't want Zete or Zete didn't want me, screw it: I'd have depledged, and I'd still have gotten on with the majority of the brothers.
8.19.2006 11:54pm
Dan Collins (mail):
I trust the market. If the market doesn't like Dartmouth's heavy handedness toward free expression, Dartmouth will eventually go down the tubes. On the other hand, if 18-year-olds and their parents want to pay tons of money to attend a place that stifles viewpoints, Dartmouth will thrive. Apparently the latter has already happened. Dartmouth has apparently become sort of like a bad homeowners' association, vetoing an annoying homeowner's attempt to paint his mailbox blue.


Yeah, but strangely enough, there are some of us who feel that we're somehow invested in the place, and who, having spent four years there, have acquired something of a relish for the struggle.
8.19.2006 11:58pm
Informant (mail):
In 1953 Presient Eisenhower chose Dartmouth's Commencement as the site for his famous "Don't Join the Book Burners" speech, calling for freedom of speech rather than censorship of Communist books and ideas on campus.

Someone needs to report this President Eisenhower fellow to David Horowitz, ASAP. He's clearly one those anti-American comsymps who uses the pulpit of academia to infect the minds of our vulnerable youth.
8.20.2006 12:31am
Dan Collins (mail):
Dartmouth Alum: you have a point with regards to the difference between a "hard" and a "soft" fraternity. What I find difficult to square with various representations and interpretations of the nature of the meeting between Stork and the VP is that we have some people suggesting that the purpose of the meeting was to exchange views regarding the proposed constitution, and yet:

In The Dartmouth, the vice president claimed that "I don't recall debating the constitution…."


Okay, then . . . what was the meeting about?
8.20.2006 12:42am
Dan Collins (mail):
Dartmouth Alum: you have a point with regards to the difference between a "hard" and a "soft" fraternity. What I find difficult to square with various representations and interpretations of the nature of the meeting between Stork and the VP is that we have some people suggesting that the purpose of the meeting was to exchange views regarding the proposed constitution, and yet:

In The Dartmouth, the vice president claimed that "I don't recall debating the constitution…."


Okay, then . . . what was the meeting about?
**********************************************************

Informant: To how many affiliated group spots do you think the comsymps ought to be entitled? If you're a lesbian comsymp of color, how many do you think should represent you, to make it fair? Who gets to diagnose under- and overrepresentation and make the necessary appointments?
8.20.2006 12:50am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Dartmouth Alum wrote:

You wrote: "According to his account, as a result of the meeting he deliberately kept a low profile and didn't make waves until after he had graduated . . . ."

I don't see where he said that (maybe I'm missing something).


Yup, you're missing something. Quoting from the article in The Dartmouth by Rebekah Rombom:

Stork said that he decided to bring his concerns to a public a forum over two months after the incident because he no longer thought he could be negatively affected by repercussions.

"Now I feel comfortable that I'm in a position to kind of respond to, whereas after that meeting I didn't have any footing," Stork said.


And now, let me echo Dan Collins, who (IMHO) pretty much nails the issue of the administration's credibility with this:

What I find difficult to square with various representations and interpretations of the nature of the meeting between Stork and the VP is that we have some people suggesting that the purpose of the meeting was to exchange views regarding the proposed constitution, and yet:

In The Dartmouth, the vice president claimed that "I don't recall debating the constitution…."


Okay, then . . . what was the meeting about?
8.20.2006 1:43am
Frank Gado (mail):
What everyone seems to be missing is the administration's repeated professions of neutrality in the question of the AGTF camelopard. This claim is absurd. Most recently, the Alumni Relations Office sent out, with its approval, a letter from Michelle Sweetser in which she urged other class newsletter editors to download from two attached files. One emanated from Joe Stevenson, head of the AGTF; the other was a supposedly neutral side by side comparison of the two constitutions. When I (and others in the opposition) protested and asked that we be permitted to send our own files rebutting those sent out by Sweetser, we were refused. And so it goes.

The administration has bankrolled the AGTF and the Executive Committee but refused similar services (such as use of mailing lists) to those members of the Association in opposition.
8.20.2006 2:56am
Ken Arromdee:
I'm reminded of part of the public reaction to the Bernard Goetz incident.

Almost everyone who had lived in New York for a while believed that the youths who accosted Goetz were planning to rob him.

A lot of other people didn't.
8.20.2006 3:10pm
Gray Ghost (mail):
I was a Dartmouth Zete '89 and thus I was at the college and a member of the house at the time of Zete's FIRST newsletter incident. To correct some misstatements above, Zete was in fact punished for the first misogynistic newsletter incident, with (if I recall correctly) 3 terms of social probation (we could not have kegs or public parties. This resulted in private parties with Milwaukee's Best tall boys, as the most economical substitutes for kegs...hardly a horrible punishment.)

I'm not familiar with the contents of the second misogynistic newsletter, but it seems to have been the result of a failure of institutional memory on behalf of the Zete officer hierarchy. One would have hoped that those publishing the newsletter would have been a little more careful about its contents after the first incident...but all the people who remembered the first incident had graduated (except college administrators).
8.20.2006 9:35pm
Waldensian (mail):

Yeah, but strangely enough, there are some of us who feel that we're somehow invested in the place, and who, having spent four years there, have acquired something of a relish for the struggle.

But strangely enough, if you re-read my post, you'll note that I allow (in the very first line....) for the obvious and natural interest of alums in this dispute, for just the reason you mention.

But we're agreed, aren't we, that this latest imbroglio has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment? I.e., if we didn't go to Dartmouth, we have no reason at all to care about any of this, right?

Oh well, I'll quit searching for clues to relevance at the scene of a non-crime.
8.21.2006 12:26am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
I suppose it's natural for alumni of Dartmouth to discuss the (apparently execrable?) state of free expression at that institution. But just for the record, there's no reason for the rest of us to care, right?

[...] I.e., if we didn't go to Dartmouth, we have no reason at all to care about any of this, right?


"First they came for the Dartmouth alumni; but I did not speak up, because I was not a Dartmouth grad. Then they came for ..."

Eh. I'm a graduate of a little place called UCLA -- perhaps you've heard of it? I'd say that gives me no "credentials" to comment on Dartmouth affairs, in your eyes. Tell me, is Professor Volokh qualified to comment?
8.21.2006 1:30am
waytoooldforthisshit (mail):
I will leave the Zete issue aside for now - I can't be objective about it.

The fact that the College doesn't believe that it is important to have a free and open debate about the alumni constitution and, instead, bankrolls free and copious publicity promoting one side of the issue, is insulting to the intelligence of any free thinking alum. The same administration that seeks to ply us with beer and have the Aires serenade us every five years so that we leave all of our worldly possessions to help fund Dartmouth's future doesn't trust us to decide how we run our own internal alumni affairs.

I wish the administration would understand and appreciate that there are many of us out in the world who object to how things are being handled in Hanover but at the same time love the College, volunteer generously for various alumni activities, trumpet the College's praises to the point of aggravating our friends and family, and care about its future. We are not the enemy.
8.21.2006 9:18am
Dan Collins (mail):
Waldensian--

What gave you the idea that this is about the first amendment? This is about right of inquiry on campuses. You needn't care, if you don't want to. It's not a matter of a crime. It's a matter of people who like to invoke, ex post facto, standards of behavior to intimidate and punish, while failing to recognize them on their own part.

You certainly don't need to be a Dartmouth alumnus to have an opinion on the topic, and you certainly don't have to subscribe to my opinion or anyone else's on the basis that we went there. You are not required to care. Mike G does care, because he sees this as probably reflective of similar administrative misbehavior on campuses across the country.

This isn't about "standing," and not all matters of equity are matters of equity before the law.
8.21.2006 9:28am
Dartmouth Alum:
@ Mike Corvallis:

I hadn't read the newspaper account; I was relying on Stork's (lengthy) discussion in his own words of what had happened, which didn't mention being driven into hiding for two months after graduation. Can someone explain to me what, exactly, he was afraid of post-graduation? (The alleged intimidation occured, as I noted above, only scant days before Stork was gone from the institution.) I suppose it's possible that Stork didn't have a job and was concerned about the school withholding his transcript or something like that. Or perhaps he took an extra quarter to graduate? But barring one of those presumably improbable scenarios, what, exactly, stopped him from talking?

Sorry if I'm skeptical about this, but the whole free-speech-martyrdom act is a little tedious, a bit like people claiming that Bush is going to throw them in jail for criticizing his administration, etc., even though there's no example of that ever happening. As Leontes put it in The Winter's Tale, "Were I a tyrant, where were her life? she durst not call me so, if she did know me one." If in fact the administration were a tyrant using its considerable powers for evil against students who criticized the new constitution, where were their diplomas, etc.?
8.21.2006 10:05am
Dartmouth Alum:
(Again, my skepticism in this is fueled by absurdities like Zarkov's claim that there's not a single history professor who's not a pink commie, etc.)

As for the administration's credibility, in light of the statement that they did not debate the constitution . . . . I'm not sure. Mincing words they could claim that they debated the propriety of his email urging others to vote a certain way and not the merits of the constitution itself. I put that deception / blatant lie about coequal with his claim that a mass email was "private," though.
8.21.2006 10:07am
Dan Collins (mail):
Mincing words? Credibility? Propriety?
For what are we being asked to settle?
8.21.2006 10:32am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Can someone explain to me what, exactly, he was afraid of post-graduation? (The alleged intimidation occured, as I noted above, only scant days before Stork was gone from the institution.) I suppose it's possible that Stork didn't have a job and was concerned about the school withholding his transcript or something like that.


Gosh, I envy you. You seem to have never dealt with a bureaucracy, much less a malevolent one.

Mincing words they could claim that they debated the propriety of his email urging others to vote a certain way and not the merits of the constitution itself.


Well then, I guess their truthfulness all depends on the the meaning of "is" is, doesn't it?

Tell you what -- let's stipulate that both sides are being untruthful to an equal extent. Then, I think it only fair that since all parties have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, Mr. Stork should resign his position on the Dartmouth Association of Alumni, and Mr. Spalding and Mr. Morey should resign theirs.

Wouldn't that be appropriate? Remember Stan Lee's immortal words, "With great power comes great responsibility."
8.21.2006 3:39pm
Dartmouth Alum:
I've dealt with many malicious bureaucrats, but, in my experience, their malice and their power terminates rather quickly once one is out of their bailiwick. What I'm a little confused about here is why it is that he was in mortal dread of the deans (who did nothing to him and made no threats, even on his account) after graduation, but that dread totally dissipated after a couple more months. Dissipated not only to the extent that he felt comfortable continuing his political advocacy, but even to the point that he was willing to accuse the administration of lying, bullying, snooping into his email account, etc.

Since you know so much about bureaucracies, maybe you can explain this to little old ignorant me. I suppose it's possible (as I already noted) that Stork was unemployed at graduation but secured a job after a couple months, at which point he felt that he had escaped Dartmouth's reach. But even that, most charitable, scenario seems a bit far-fetched, since I can't see how Dartmouth would interfere with his ability to get a job post-graduation short of withholding his transcripts, an intervention at once implausible and easily avoidable (ask for your transcript, make copies, and then start advocating!).

For any post-graduate studies, he would have already been accepted for this year, or would not yet be accepted for the following year. Maybe he was wait-listed and once off the wait-list of whatever institution, he made his move? I guess that's the best explanation . . . .
8.21.2006 4:32pm
Dartmouth Alum:
Couple more thoughts for those interested in critically examining the claim of intimidation:

Here is the archive of Vox Clamantis in Deserto -- http://www.voxclamantisindeserto.org/archives.html. As you can quickly see, there was a flurry of articles in April and May, then a single article in June, and no articles since until August 13, when Andrew Eastman '07 added a post accusing the new constitution of being "anti-democratic," intolerable, and intended to pander to minorities.

So one possible reason that posts stopped in June is that word of Stork's dressing down spread and terror ruled the night. Another possibility is that exams fall in mid-June, followed by partying, followed by either graduation and then work (for seniors) or summer vacation (for everyone else, save sophomores, who have but a short break). Now, let's assume that it was because Stork got the message and spread it around: criticize the constitution and you're done for at Dartmouth!

How, then, can we explain Andrew Eastman's August 13th post? That post predates Stork's August 16th disclosure and the August 17th article in The Dartmouth (and the brouhaha that followed). Accordingly, it must be that Eastman -- who still has a year left at Dartmouth -- wasn't sufficiently terrorized. But why then no posts from him (or any of the other stalwarts) in the intervening period?

It strikes me that anyone judging this with a critical eye would find the intimidation story pretty hard to believe. If Dartmouth has such power to harm its students, why would Eastman take the risk? If the disclosure of the threat is enough to ameliorate the risk to an acceptable level, then why would Stork need to wait?

In any event, as I hope my initial post made clear, I'm hardly a fond friend of the administration and I don't doubt that the intent of the meeting was to make Stork uncomfortable with his anti-constitution advocacy. I just don't think the discomfort was supposed to flow from their invasion of his personal email or from the threat of some future ruination. I think it was meant to come from the fact that students don't like being haled into administrators' offices because it's just an inherently uncomfortable setting.

Since I believe that the administration ought to be able to talk to students who voice gripes about it, I just don't see any reason to lump this incident with other Dartmouth censorship issues (such as the persistent DR issues). Stork wrote a post calling Spalding out (http://www.voxclamantisindeserto.org/042506.htm), accusing him, inter alia, of "ignor[ing] the critical voice of the student." Stork purported to be the voice of just that ignored student. Should Spalding not be allowed to call him in to talk directly about the issue?
8.21.2006 5:37pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
In any event, as I hope my initial post made clear, I'm hardly a fond friend of the administration and I don't doubt that the intent of the meeting was to make Stork uncomfortable with his anti-constitution advocacy.


Ah, we have more in common than I had thought. As I said earlier, a deliberate attempt to intimidate, yes; censorship, no.

... I just don't think the discomfort was supposed to flow from their invasion of his personal email or from the threat of some future ruination. I think it was meant to come from the fact that students don't like being haled into administrators' offices because it's just an inherently uncomfortable setting.


I suspect that the presence in the meeting room of the e-mail message, which the VP first ambiguously denied having and then "couldn't remember" having seen, was itself intended to be an intimidation tactic. I further suspect that the administration had the e-mail because it had been forwarded by a third party ... but we can't know that for certain, can we, until (1) the administration actually admits having a copy of the e-mail and (2) explains how it came to be in their possession.


Since I believe that the administration ought to be able to talk to students who voice gripes about it, I just don't see any reason to lump this incident with other Dartmouth censorship issues (such as the persistent DR issues). Stork wrote a post calling Spalding out (http://www.voxclamantisindeserto.org/042506.htm), accusing him, inter alia, of "ignor[ing] the critical voice of the student." Stork purported to be the voice of just that ignored student. Should Spalding not be allowed to call him in to talk directly about the issue?


Wouldn't the appropriate action have been to have an open meeting, then, with the administration's role being a neutral provider of information in a Q&A session rather than as an advocate for the new constitution? Expecially since the administration publicly disclaims an advocacy role.

As for Stork's specific fears (or inchoate fears, for that matter) of what the administration could do to him in the two months after graduation ... Why don't we ask him?

My suspicions (without any actual knowledge) would be that he was afraid they could (1) somehow "lose" the physical copy of his diploma; (2) suddenly "discover" that he seemed to have a two-years-overdue library book and refuse to process his records until all fines were paid; (3) interfere with transcripts being sent to employers or graduate schools; (4) conceivably (although implausibly) put pressure on his professors to withhold or downgrade any sought-for letters of recommendation. Or perhaps Stork is a member of NAMBLA or some other organization that he'd prefer a prospective employer (or his parents!) not know about. Would these be valid concerns? Maybe not, perhaps even very likely not. But I would never bet big money on the truth of the assertion, "Oh come on! Nobody could ever be that petty and vindictive!"
8.21.2006 7:50pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
I can't see how Dartmouth would interfere with his ability to get a job post-graduation short of withholding his transcripts, an intervention at once implausible and easily avoidable (ask for your transcript, make copies, and then start advocating!).


Perhaps that's what he did, a week or two after graduation. And perhaps it took the College several weeks to provide the transcripts. Voila! Two months.
8.21.2006 7:55pm
Waldensian (mail):

Eh. I'm a graduate of a little place called UCLA -- perhaps you've heard of it? I'd say that gives me no "credentials" to comment on Dartmouth affairs, in your eyes. Tell me, is Professor Volokh qualified to comment?

Let's get over the obvious: I have in fact heard of UCLA. You have plenty of credentials to comment on Dartmouth affairs, whatever that means. Prof. Volokh is certainly "qualified" to discuss these matters. And you are pretty bad at writing sarcastic prose.

You misapprehend me. What I'm getting at is that for years I've listened to Ivy Leaguers discuss the absurd Stalinist approach of petty university bureaucrats toward free expression on various campuses. Critics of the schools are certainly free to do that, I suppose they should do that, they are "qualified" to do that, they can do it all day long, they can write songs about it, they can scrawl it on bathroom stalls, whatever.

But what I've also noticed, time and again, is that these critics tend to view this apparently deplorable and intractable situation as somehow important for the rest of us.

I'm pretty clearly right about that tendency, aren't I? Note that you actually display it quite clearly by invoking the bit about the slippery slope:

"First they came for the Dartmouth alumni; but I did not speak up, because I was not a Dartmouth grad. Then they came for ..."

That's just silly. Private schools been doing this kind of thing for ages. In more recent history, Dartmouth first attempted to work over the Dartmouth Review what, 15 plus years ago? I doubt that was the first time they tried to shut somebody up.

Yet somehow I can still speak my mind in public! Astounding!!

You wrote this tripe, so tell me: Who, exactly, is going to "come for me" if I don't give a flying rat's butt about free speech at Dartmouth? What, exactly, are they going to do to me? Force me to wear green and talk funny?

My point is a small one, but at least you prove it for me: This tired old tempest continues to exist in an irrelevant teapot, where it will always remain.

Now I must rush home and barricade my door against the administration of Dartmouth; apparently they are "coming for me" because of my lack of solidarity with Dartmouth students.

What a bunch of malarkey.
8.21.2006 9:03pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
What an odd little tirade.
8.22.2006 1:26am
Dan Collins (mail):
Great, Douglas.

I'll tell you what. Let's each of us make a list of 50 things that we care about, and whenever we see something on someone else's list over which we have an infinite number of rodents' tookuses not to give, we can throw a little harangue. Sound good?

"Hey--I think that it would've been nice if that would have listened to what that other guy was saying."

"STFU, okay? It's not the end of the world, jerkoff."
8.22.2006 12:45pm