Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon has sent a blast email to “the Dartmouth community.” According to the subject line, the email addresses “Dartmouth Action Plan for Inclusive Excellence.” The action plan is posted here. Given the message’s concatenation of current academic cliches, I think I’ll pass. By the evidence of his message, President Hanlon has successfully stifled the urge to say anything in a voice that resembles that of a sentient human being.
What, you may ask, is “inclusive excellence”? Whatever it is, it is imperative. Indeed, the force of its command has somehow turned “they” into a singular pronoun:
We must increase diversity, particularly among our faculty and staff. As we do so, we must also create a community in which every individual, regardless of gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, disability, nationality, political or religious views, or position within the institution, is respected. On this close-knit and intimate campus, we must ensure that every person knows that he, she, or they is a valued member of our community.
“[T]hey is a valued community member.” It was William Buckley who articulated the relevant imperative in 1968: “We must cut the crap.”
As an English major dating back to the days when Dartmouth had one of the best English departments in the United States, I cringe. Those of us who loved the college must be embarrassed by it, or him, or them.