Threats of “physical action” at Dartmouth, then and now [UPDATED TWICE]

A collection of Dartmouth students who describe themselves as “Concerned Asian, Black, Latin@, Native, Undocumented, Queer, and Differently-Abled students” have threatened “physical action” if the administrators do not respond to their list of demands. The list of demands is lengthy. Here are some of them:

Incorporate into each department at LEAST one queer studies class.

Commit multi-millions of dollars to increase faculty and staff of color in all departments, and create a “professor of color” lecture series.

Require ALL professors to be trained in “cultural competency” and the “importance of social justice in their day to day work.”

Ask faculty to use preferred gender pronouns. Allow body and gender self-determination.

Provide gender-neutral housing to all students. Provide gender-specific AND gender-neutral bathrooms in EVERY BUILDING on campus.

Provide free legal assistance and financial aid for undocumented students to “better understand each of their unique legal statuses.”

Require that every Dartmouth student be taught and made aware that the land they reside on is Abenaki homeland.

All male-female checkboxes should be replaced with write-in boxes to make forms, surveys, and applications more inclusive for trans, two-spirit, agender, gender-nonconforming and genderqueer folks campus-wide.

The students say that Dartmouth must commit to meeting these demands by March 24, 2014. Otherwise “physical action” will ensue.

I was once part of a group of Dartmouth students that threatened (and engaged in) physical action if the administration did not respond to a demand. The physical action was taking over Parkhurst Hall, the main administration building. The demand was ending ROTC at Dartmouth.

Our demand was probably more pernicious than the entire laundry list presented by the “Concerned Asian, Black, Latin@, Native, Undocumented, Queer, and Differently-Abled students.” But at least it had the virtue of being sane.

The administration’s response to our demand made me secretly proud of Dartmouth even at the time. The College obtained a court injunction against the building-takeover. When we violated the injunction, it gave us time to reconsider (which was never going to happen). Then it called in the national guard to remove us (through physical action).

Having violated the injunction, we were in contempt of court. This meant that our sentence was pretty much at the discretion of the court. It sentenced us to 30 days in jail, just enough time for law abiding Dartmouth students to finish their trimester course work without further interference from our lot.

That course work did not include a queer studies class or instruction that we were all squatting on the Abenaki homeland.

How will the current Dartmouth administration respond to the “physical action,” if any, of the current incarnation of campus rads? We’ll see. My guess is that if the students take over a building, Dartmouth will serve them snacks.

STEVE adds: One thing I have discovered to my dismay during my year here at Colorado is that the gender-extremism is much worse than I imagined it could be.  There is virtually no resistance to it from administrators who probably–or at least should–know better.  It is an iron law of extremists that if they meet no resistance, they’ll keep going.  The average administrator reminds me of the stories of Lyndon Johnson, asking uncomprehendingly about North Vietnam, “What does Ho want?”, not realizing that what Ho wanted was to defeat the United States and conquer the whole of Vietnam.  Johnson kept thinking Ho was like a ward-heeling pol who could be bought off with a few more post offices.  The cravenness of college administrators treat campus extremists the same way.

Instead, Dartmouth and other colleges should follow the example of the University of Chicago back in the 1960s, which simply expelled the first students who conducted sit-ins and other “direct action.”  Problem solved.

UPDATE: I can’t say for certain, but it may be that the story about “physical action” at Dartmouth, first reported on The College Fix, is satire. I certainly hope so.

If the story is satire, it is very cleverly done, and it fooled a number of good bloggers including at NRO, where I first picked up the story. Nonetheless, satire or not, I shouldn’t have written this post without checking more carefully.

SECOND UPDATE: According to the “D” — Dartmouth’s student-run newspaper — more than 200 students and faculty met yesterday to discuss the “physical action” demands. Several students said that they were among the authors of the document. Sadly, then, it looks for now like this was not satire, at least as the word is commonly understood.

STEVE adds: It is entirely possible that this in fact began as satire, but took on a real life of its own, because good satire is always close to the truth.  In other words, this may be one of the best exercises in performance art ever conceived.  Wish I had thought of it.

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