At Dartmouth, Phil Hanlon wants no enemies to the left

I have it on good authority that Parker Gilbert, the Dartmouth student found not guilty of raping a fellow student, has been told by Dartmouth administrators that he will be wasting his time if he applies for readmission. Why is Dartmouth dead set against readmitting Gilbert?

The College’s attitude cannot be justified by the facts of the case. Gilbert was acquitted of every criminal charge leveled against him, from trespass to rape. Some of the counts were so weak that the trial judge tossed them out on motion by the defendant. The remaining counts were disposed of relatively quickly by a jury consisting of six men and six women.

It’s easy to understand why. Simply put, the evidence confirmed the defense’s claim that, in all likelihood, this was a case of drunken sex, not rape. The complaining student’s roommate, who had not been drinking and was in the adjoining room, testified that during the alleged assault she did not hear loud noises, crying, or expressions of pain.

Moreover, the complaining student admitted that following the alleged rape, she went to sleep without locking her door and, the next morning, told a friend that Gilbert had come into the room and they had sex. She did not say she had been raped.

So, again, why is Dartmouth dead set against readmitting Gilbert? Surely, engaging in drunken sex is not grounds for being barred from college.

The answer lies not in the merits of the case. Rather, it lies in the pressure being exerted by feminists, with the collaboration of the left-wing media and the federal government, who seek to gain influence and drive home their radical agenda by making it appear that Dartmouth is more hostile than comparable colleges to women and, worse yet, has a “rape problem.”

The pressure campaign is working. This year, applications to Dartmouth declined by 14 percent. Factors other than fear-mongering about harassment and rape are no doubt in play, but it seems likely that the fear-mongering is taking its toll.

In any event, Dartmouth President, Phil Hanlon, is taking no chances. As Steve Hayward noted in his excellent post this morning, the Washington Post today reported on a speech in which Hanlon complained that Dartmouth is “being hijacked by extreme behavior,” including sexual assaults, on campus.

Hanlon says that “a prospective student or parent should be concerned if a campus is not talking about” harassment and assault of female students. With his eye on application rates, Hanlon intends to make sure his campus talks about, and indeed obsesses over, these matters, even to the point of denying readmission to a student falsely accused of sexual misconduct.

Nor will Hanlon confine himself to talk. Dartmouth will soon implement a new discipline system for assault cases and is reviewing a proposal to bring in trained external investigators to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct. I wrote about the mischief likely to accompany this approach here.

A wise Dartmouth alum told me today that Hanlon, like the Stalinists, wants “no enemies to the left.” That seems clear.

Occupy his office in the pursuit of preposterous, impossible left-wing demands? Hanlon wants to reason with you. Slander Dartmouth by painting it as an outlier in the way female students are treated? Hanlon wants to accommodate you. State publicly that Dartmouth should consider expelling students based on nothing more than allegations of sexual misconduct? No worries. Your position as Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator is secure and you may well end up with more staffing.

But be falsely accused of rape and, even if acquitted by our legal system, Dartmouth has no place for you. In effect, you will be barred based, as Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator desires, on allegation.

Between the two of us, Scott and I have sent three daughters to Dartmouth in recent years. We have sent two others to comparable institutions.

Is there too much drinking at Dartmouth? Absolutely. Is “hooking up” too prevalent? From my perspective, yes.

But are female Dartmouth students subject to a “culture of rape”? And does their treatment by male students compare unfavorably to that at comparable institutions? Not as far as I can tell; indeed, my daughter (Dartmouth Class of 2010), a feminist in her own way, was offended that the Post dragged Dartmouth through the mud.

But Phil Hanlon did most of the dragging for the Post.

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