To the Dartmouth Community:
Last January, I announced the launch of Moving Dartmouth Forward, a plan to greatly reduce extreme, harmful behaviors on campus including high-risk drinking, sexual assault and violence, and incidents of bias and exclusivity. I am writing to give you a progress report now that we are six months post announcement and two terms into the start of implementation.
My goal in launching the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative was to ensure that our campus is a vibrant and supportive community focused on intellectual growth and engagement both within and outside the classroom. The elements of Moving Dartmouth Forward were based in large part on recommendations from a Presidential Steering Committee, chaired by Professor Barbara Will. In crafting its recommendations, the Steering Committee sought broad input from the extended Dartmouth community, consulted with experts on high-risk behavior, and studied best practices at a number of peer institutions.
A far-reaching element of this plan is to transform residential life at Dartmouth by developing a house community system, which we will launch next fall. These house communities will enrich the opportunities for social interaction and intellectual engagement within our residence hall system. We selected six talented house professors who will guide the creation of house communities in cooperation with Rebecca Biron, the new dean of the College, and they will be soliciting input from faculty, students and staff during the coming year. Additionally, we have committed $1 million to student programming this year.
Beyond the house communities system, Moving Dartmouth Forward includes a number of measures that will promote a safer and healthier campus. Last spring we revised the College alcohol policy to extend the ban on hard alcohol from students under age 21 to all undergraduates, and we differentiated penalties for violation of the alcohol policy depending on whether the violation involved beer or wine, or hard alcohol.
In the area of sexual assault, we significantly strengthened the College’s judicial policies a year ago. In the coming weeks, Safety and Security will send out a community announcement about a new Dartmouth-specific smartphone safety app, which I encourage every member of the community who uses a smartphone to download. Also regarding sexual assault, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with WISE, a regional advocacy and crisis services organization for those affected by domestic or sexual violence, and hope to soon have a WISE advocate working on campus. We are also piloting aspects of a four-year sexual assault education curriculum. And, later this fall, we plan to launch an online “consent manual” which will help to clarify acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Last spring, students, faculty, and staff participated in three working groups charged with drafting a code of conduct, revising our event policy procedures, and drafting new standards for organizational accountability. I would like to thank those who took the time to work on these committees. This week, entering students will sign the new citizenship pledge, which was drafted by one of the working groups. Together with our Principle of Community and Academic Honor Principle, this new pledge affirms the rights and obligations that we all hold as members of an intellectual community–the duty to act with integrity at all times, in and out of the classroom; the right to express ideas freely, even if they are not popular, while remaining respectful of the rights of others; and the recognition that our diversity enriches all of us.
During the fall, we will introduce new rules crafted by the Social Event and Alcohol Management Working Group relating to alcohol service at undergraduate parties. Later in the year, we will introduce a new standard for organizational accountability based on the work of one of the working groups. All student organizations must make a positive contribution to our community in order to maintain recognition. These measures are in addition to those enacted last spring: a ban on pledge periods in all student organizations and a requirement for all Greek houses to have faculty advisers.
Last spring we conducted the AAU Sexual Assault Climate Survey and this fall we will conduct a Community Study, a campus-wide survey that looks at the learning, working, and living environment at Dartmouth (our campus climate). In the coming weeks, you will receive information about this campus climate study and I encourage all students, faculty, and staff to participate. We will release results of these surveys and use the information they provide to enhance our efforts to create a safe and inclusive campus.
Finally, to ensure accountability, I named an external review panel that will report regularly to our trustees on whether we are taking the steps that we promised in the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative.
As we move forward with implementation, we will continue to assess the effectiveness of our efforts using information from the surveys and all other available data. I invite you to visit the Moving Dartmouth Forward website to stay informed about our progress.
Phil Hanlon ’77