Dartmouth plays favorites in the presidential race

Dartblog reports that in September of this year, Dartmouth officials told the college Republicans they could not have the use of Spaulding auditorium for a Donald Trump appearance because this space is never used for political candidates. “Candidates never get Spaulding,” is what College Republicans vice president Charles Springer says he was told “word for word.”

Because Dartmouth could not meet the Trump campaigns requirement of a room that accommodates at least 800 people — the Donald attracts tremendous crowds, believe me — Trump did not appear at Dartmouth.

But this week, Hillary Clinton spoke at Spaulding. Her appearance was billed as a “A Conversation with Secretary Hillary Clinton.” It was sponsored by the Nelson Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the business school.

Hillary Clinton is, of course, a presidential candidate. Moreover, she appeared in that capacity. The Rockefeller Center declared that she is “the third speaker in the America’s Economic Future series featuring presidential primary candidates.” (emphasis added) Other candidates speaking as part of this series did not get Spaulding.

Whatever excuse Dartmouth’s administration comes up with for letting Clinton but not Trump use Spaulding, the decision seems unconscionable. Calling the Clinton event a “conversation” and adding the veneer of a fancy lecture series under the aegis of the Rockefeller Center and the business school doesn’t change this. Unfairness isn’t overcome by labels and letterhead.

This report on the Clinton event highlights its nature as a campaign event, not an educational presentation about America’s economic future:

[Clinton] spoke about her views on such subjects as pay equality, health care and equal opportunity. Questions were opened to the public involving the recent Transpacific Partnership and other trade deals and United States foreign policy.

In anticipation of Veterans Day, and after having visited veterans earlier Monday, Clinton also spoke on the current state of care afforded to veterans.

“We’ve got to do a better job providing benefits that our veterans deserve, because I take this issue very seriously and I want to be a really good effective president for our vets,” she said.

And in terms of other hot button issues, Clinton’s potential competition on the GOP side of the presidential race was also a popular topic.

“What do you think of Donald Trump,” one person in attendance asked.

“I will run against anyone they nominate, and if it’s him, put on your seat belts,” Clinton responded. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Her supporters were said to be “thrilled” and “starstruck.”

The New Hampshire primary presents every Dartmouth student who attends for four consecutive years with the opportunity to see essentially the entire presidential field up close. I fondly remember questioning George Romney about the Vietnam War in early 1968 (he spoke in Spaulding, I’m 99 percent sure).

But as things stand now, Dartmouth students will not have the opportunity to see Donald Trump, the current GOP frontrunner (though far from my preferred candidate) due to the application of a rule that turned out not to be a rule.

Dartmouth should invite Trump to appear in Spaulding auditorium.