Moving Dartmouth Forward

Final Report from the Committee

On January 29, President Hanlon issued a plan for Moving Dartmouth Forward. This was the culmination of a process that began in April 2014 when President Hanlon convened a summit in which he challenged the Dartmouth community to come together to end high-risk and harmful behavior on campus. In May, he formed a presidential steering committee and charged its members with gathering feedback from students, alumni, faculty and staff, studying best practices of peer institutions and consulting with experts. He asked the Committee to use this information in formulating recommendations to end sexual assault and high-risk drinking on campus and to increase inclusivity. The committee submitted the Presidential Steering Committee’s Final Report to President Hanlon in January. On January 29, President Hanlon addressed the Dartmouth community and released his plan of action.

Committee Submits Report to President Hanlon

On January 20, the Presidential Steering Committee turned in its report containing its recommendations for addressing extreme behavior on campus to President Hanlon. This concludes the committee’s work. We would like to thank President Hanlon for the opportunity to contribute to this process, we thank him for his support and look forward to his announcement of next steps on January 29. President Hanlon will publicly release the steering committee’s report at that time. We would also like to thank the thousands of members of the Dartmouth community for offering their reflections and ideas. This process has made clear how thoughtful and committed the students, alumni, staff and faculty are to making Dartmouth the very best that it can be.

MDF: A Progress Report

The Presidential Steering Committee, charged by President Hanlon to develop recommendations to curb high-risk behaviors, has completed the community re-engagement portion of the process launched in May. Our goal during this phase was to interact with the community to ensure all voices are being heard, share some of the ideas we’ve received, and discuss the feasibility of concepts as we head toward the delivery of the final recommendations that we believe will Move Dartmouth Forward.

What We Have Learned: Sexual Assault

Of the three behaviors we’ve studied as a committee, sexual assault is undoubtedly the most devastating, the one that leaves the deepest scars on both individual victims and the community in general. Defined as any unwanted or unwelcome touching of a sexual nature that occurs without valid consent, sexual assault is also notoriously difficult to measure and to address. National studies suggest that sexual assault is widespread on college campuses, affecting as many as one in every four or five students. Yet it is also vastly underreported.

What We Have Learned: Inclusivity

In our October 13 post, “What We Have Learned:  High-Risk Drinking, we discussed the phenomenon of high-risk drinking on our campus and on university campuses nationwide. In this letter, we would like to present our findings around the lack of inclusivity, a phenomenon that has proven to be as troubling to our community and as antithetical to our educational mission as binge drinking.

The Committee’s Goal

The Moving Dartmouth Forward Presidential Steering Committee was charged with making recommendations to President Phil Hanlon that will combat the root causes of extreme behavior in the critical areas of sexual assault and high-risk drinking, and will also seek to foster more inclusivity on campus.

What We Have Learned: High-Risk Drinking

After spending the last six months examining extreme behaviors on campus, assessing their root causes, and looking at the way peer institutions have dealt with their own versions of these problems, we believe we are well on our way to offering a set of recommendations to President Hanlon that will strengthen our campus and make it a safer and more inclusive place.

What We Have Learned: An Overview

As we move into an energetic fall term on campus, the Moving Dartmouth Forward committee is compiling all of its feedback, data, best practices, and long-term goals to think realistically about what will best help Dartmouth to end harmful and extreme behavior on campus.

Summary of Student Feedback

In May, the Steering Committee partnered with Improve Dartmouth:  On the Ground, a student group, to help collect student ideas. Improve Dartmouth: On the Ground facilitated 41 student discussions between May and July.  This document contains 250 separate ideas, submitted by 560 students, on ways to address high-risk drinking, sexual assault, and exclusivity at Dartmouth.  The ideas were consolidated from 740 posts to otg.improvedartmouth.com; many of them were posted directly to the site during the facilitated discussions.

This document is not representative of the entire student body, nor is it representative of all the suggestions received by the steering committee.  The steering committee has held additional meetings with students, and received input from more than 53 alumni meetings and conference calls, as well as more than 1650 online submissions.

An In-Depth Process Requires Time

As summer term winds down, we are gratified to witness a surge of engagement with our committee work on campus. Student groups have been reaching out to us with regularity to ask how they can be involved in the effort to address extreme behavior on campus. The recent marathon half-day conference on sexual assault hosted by Bones Gate fraternity, which drew approximately 130 Dartmouth men and ended with a candlelight vigil on the steps of Dartmouth Hall, was testimony to the sincere interest and concern felt by many on campus about the complex problem of sexual assault. Thanks are due to the organizers of this conference. We hope their investment, and that of many other students in making Dartmouth safer, healthier, and more inclusive, will continue into the fall and beyond.

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