The administration of Dartmouth College seems to have transcended embarrassment in its efforts to conceal the state of affairs on campus and to tilt the scales in the ongoing trustee election. (We support outsider candidates Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki.) Joe Malchow reports at Dartblog (with many links):
Candidate Peter Robinson (as well as Todd Zywicki) has made free speech a pillar of his campaign. At issue are Dartmouth’s speech codes, un-Constitutional college policies that attempt to regulate what students may or may not say in the open exchange of ideas that is academia. Dartmouth, and many other colleges, have deemed certain groups incapable of defending themselves, and therefore regulate speech that “offends” certain special groups. In these situations, the mere accusation of offense is a condemnation. It is a sorry situation for colleges and students alike, and one that many people are glad the trustee candidates are addressing.
FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, marks Dartmouth as a red-light institution. That is, “A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” FIRE lists and documents these speech codes on the above-linked site. Peter Robinson has seized on these speech codes, rightly, as examples of stifling of free speech at Dartmouth.
Now, I learn via Nathaniel Ward that, though the policies remain in effect (no annulment has been made public), some of those documents have been removed from the Dartmouth website, deterring anyone trying to substantiate Robinson’s claims. And, further, affording students no ability to see exactly which inane laws dictate what they may say.
This shameful move represents not only a threat to students- who now cannot find these policies for reference reasons- but also blatant electioneering; subversive electioneering at that; on the part of the College.
The documents in question promulgate the idea that no students’ rights exist which trump the “feelings” of others. That “speech has consequences for which we must account.” That the “rules of our community” supersede “expressive conduct.”
Speech codes exist within the vagaries of statements like those. Students hang by them constantly, and FIRE documents many of these cases. That Dartmouth’s policies persist, but have been taken out of the public eye during an election in which they have become suspect, just seems low.