Moving Dartmouth Forward

Frequently Asked Questions

What did President Hanlon announce on January 29, 2015?

President Hanlon announced his “Moving Dartmouth Forward” implementation plan (MDF), identifying a powerful road map for the future that will address the critical issues of sexual assault, high-risk drinking, and creating an inclusive campus environment. 

The package of recommendations—including a new campus housing plan with increased faculty involvement, increased accountability for student organizations, a strict hard-alcohol policy, and mandatory sexual assault training for students every year—will foster a community that is intellectually vibrant, inclusive of all who can contribute, designed to help every member thrive, and—above all—safe.

What is President Hanlon’s MDF Plan trying to accomplish?

MDF is central to realizing President Hanlon’s vision for the College as a magnet for talent and home to academic excellence, intellectual innovation, and deep scholarly collaboration between faculty and students.

MDF is about a fundamental evolution in how members of the Dartmouth community think and behave.

By proactively addressing issues of sexual assault, excessive alcohol consumption, and a limited social scene, MDF will ensure that the College offers a safe and healthy campus environment in which students can live, learn, and reach their full potential.

MDF is designed to make changes quickly and sustainably—several aspects of the plan have already been implemented with success and many are in the works, to be introduced beginning in the fall of 2015.

How will the president measure success?  

The president expects four main outcomes. MDF will create a campus where:

  • students are 24/7/365 learners and intellectual pursuits take precedence over activities that lead to high-risk behavior;
  • students are part of an inclusive social environment characterized by dignity and respect for others and safe from extreme, harmful behaviors;
  • students continue the tradition of independently organizing and defining the social scene, but do so with increased adult participation;
  • the campus supports a rich variety of options for community-building and social interaction.

How will the MDF change the College?

Through MDF, Dartmouth is making structural changes in student life on the College campus. As outlined in this plan, Dartmouth will hold students and student organizations to a higher standard of behavior and will work to ensure that faculty are more involved in students’ lives.

Dartmouth will implement more programs, such as the zero-tolerance sexual assault disciplinary policy, as well as eliminate hard alcohol on campus for undergraduates and create a new housing model that will fundamentally revamp, enrich, and diversify the living and social experience at Dartmouth. The College will also take steps to strengthen academic rigor. While none of these actions alone are the solution, this package of changes will work together to have the impact that is necessary to move Dartmouth forward.

What is the most important recommendation in the plan? 

Throughout the Moving Dartmouth Forward process, President Hanlon, the Presidential Steering Committee, and the Board of Trustees have been impressed by the complexity of the issues at hand.

Excessive drinking, sexual assault, and extreme behavior are not problems with easy answers, and after extensive research and deliberation, no single action was found that could represent the perfect solution. There is no silver bullet. If there were, these problems would have vanished years ago from college campuses and society.

Instead, President Hanlon has outlined a package of actions and changes in his Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan that will fundamentally transform social and academic life on campus.


How were students and alumni involved in the process? Did they provide feedback to the Steering Committee?

Yes. In April 2014, President Hanlon announced the creation of a Presidential Steering Committee of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who were tasked with examining the issues at hand and helping to determine the best path forward for the College.

The committee worked tirelessly to collect research and consult with both outside experts and the entire Dartmouth community. In total, the committee heard from more than 40 student groups and 50 alumni groups, and it reviewed more than 2,000 emailed suggestions.

What is the difference between President Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward (MDF) Plan and the Presidential Steering Committee's report? Why are there two reports?

When President Hanlon first announced the Moving Dartmouth Forward initiative, he also formed the Presidential Steering Committee to examine the issues, solicit ideas from the community and outside experts, and investigate solutions for moving forward. The committee’s task was to create a report of its findings and recommendations for the president’s review and consideration.

Largely informed by the Steering Committee’s report, President Hanlon identified a set of policies and steps and outlined these in the final MDF Plan that he presented to the Board of Trustees on Jan. 28, 2015. The next day, President Hanlon announced the implementation plan to the Dartmouth community. The College will immediately begin work implementing the plan, and continue the work in the coming months and years.

The report and the plan serve two purposes. The Steering Committee’s report is a comprehensive compilation of research and insights, while the president’s final Moving Dartmouth Forward report is the final plan for implementation.

Did President Hanlon or the Trustees influence the direction of the Presidential Steering Committee recommendations?

In April 2014, President Hanlon asked the Dartmouth community to take the lead in American education by bringing campus life to a safe, sustainable place. As part of this call to action, he announced the formation of the special Presidential Steering Committee and appointed numerous students, faculty, staff, and alumni to examine the issues and provide recommendations on addressing sexual assault, high-risk drinking, and lack of inclusivity.

But after forming the Steering Committee, neither President Hanlon nor the Board of Trustees was involved in the committee’s work. From April 2014 until December 2014, committee members spoke with national experts and leaders of other colleges and universities; reviewed more than 2,000 suggestions; and worked with students and faculty to explore the viability of each idea put forward. The committee then compiled these findings into a final report and presented its recommendations to President Hanlon to inform his final Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan, which he presented on Jan. 29.

What was the Board’s role in all this?

The ultimate role of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees was to review and endorse President Hanlon’s final Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan, which he presented to them on Jan. 28. Throughout the process they received updates from the committee.


Does Dartmouth have a worse sexual assault or extreme drinking problem than other colleges?

High-risk behaviors are not exclusive to the Dartmouth community. These are problems plaguing colleges across the country, and, like so many other campuses, Dartmouth has struggled with the challenges of sexual violence, high-risk drinking, and other campus climate issues.

But Dartmouth is now taking the lead in addressing these issues. The College has already taken important steps to provide the safest possible environment for students to learn and grow. In the past year, Dartmouth has strengthened its procedures to more effectively prevent and respond to sexual assault, including the introduction of a zero-tolerance sexual assault disciplinary policy, with expulsion as a potential penalty. Dartmouth will continue to build on these initiatives and ensure that the campus is safe and welcoming to all.

Committed to transparency, Dartmouth will conduct two regular climate surveys and publish the results to ensure that all reforms are having the intended impact. Beginning in April 2015, Dartmouth will conduct the AAU Sexual Assault Survey on an annual basis, along with a Dartmouth campus climate survey in the fall of 2015. These survey results will also be publicly available.

What’s the role for law enforcement in curbing extreme behavior?

The key to the successful implementation of any policy change is a clear path for enforcement, including an enhanced role for security on campus and law enforcement. Dartmouth plans to add language to the student handbook specifically allowing College officials to enter a student-occupied space if there is a suspicion of alcohol, drugs, or weapons present.

Dartmouth will also hire additional Safety and Security Officers and train Residential Life staff to enforce the new policy. The College will also expand the roles of Undergraduate Advisers to include "rounds" on nights when students are more likely to drink in the residence halls (Wednesday through Saturday).


The College has already modified its sexual assault adjudication process. What does MDF do to further protect students from sexual violence?

Dartmouth will take every step that has been shown to create a safer environment for students and further their intellectual and social growth.

MDF enhances Dartmouth’s existing sexual assault adjudication process by creating more required opportunities for education, a stricter disciplinary policy, and more ways for students to seek help if they perceive a threat of sexual assault. The plan introduces a zero-tolerance sexual assault disciplinary policy, with expulsion as a potential penalty, and it requires a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education curriculum for students. Discipline and education, however, are not enough.

The College will also create an online “Consent Manual,” which will be in place by the end of the summer, and a Dartmouth-specific safety smartphone app for students to easily and immediately seek assistance if necessary. The College will continue to enhance its partnership with WISE—the Upper Valley advocacy and crisis center for victims of domestic and sexual violence.


What is the College going to do about excessive drinking and/or drug use?

There is no place for excessive drinking or drug use on our campus. Dartmouth is taking the lead among colleges by eliminating hard alcohol on campus for all student events, whether the event is sponsored by a student organization or by the College. Penalties for students found in possession of hard alcohol will ramp up, as will penalties for those who purchase or provide alcohol for minors. In hopes that these measures will not be necessary, students will be educated on the adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

Isn’t it really impossible to stop students from doing dangerous or reckless things from time to time?

Dartmouth students are accountable for the decisions that they make during their time on campus.

Change will not come from policy alone, but from individuals—and student organizations—committing to a higher standard of behavior.

MDF allows students to continue the tradition of independently organizing and defining the social scene, but with greater accountability and faculty interaction. These recommendations hold all students to a higher standard of behavior, and those who can’t adhere will face stricter repercussions. At Dartmouth, we are working together to identify ways to tap the drive and potential of students as vigorously outside the classroom as we do inside it. 


Did the Greek system influence the outcome of Moving Dartmouth Forward?

Although harmful and excessive practices within the Greek system have been brought to our attention throughout the Moving Dartmouth Forward process, all student organizations were considered—and encouraged to participate in the process. As such, the plan includes higher expectations and serious repercussions for behavior violations for all student organizations. All student organizations, Greek and non-Greek, will be expected to conduct their activities appropriately and ensure that their members are held to a much higher standard of behavior.

How does the plan handle fraternities and sororities?

After serious consideration of alternative paths, sororities and fraternities will remain a part of the Dartmouth community. However, they will be held to a much higher standard of behavior. All sororities and fraternities will be required to eliminate the pledge or probationary periods, during which members have a lesser status, include steps to be more inclusive and diversify their membership, and have active faculty sponsors (one male and one female) as well as active alumni boards if they wish to host social events. The College expects meaningful, lasting reform from the Greek system as a whole within the next three years, failing which its continuation at Dartmouth will be reassessed.

Why weren’t fraternities eliminated?

The Steering Committee and President Hanlon seriously considered eliminating Greek life on campus, but ultimately concluded that removing one aspect of campus life would not be a comprehensive or even effective solution to the more pervasive challenges the community faces.

The Steering Committee’s research revealed that at most colleges where Greek life has been eliminated, the action has failed to curtail harmful behaviors, and those campuses continue to face problems with high-risk drinking and sexual assault. Instead of eliminating the Greek system entirely, MDF aims to eliminate harmful aspects of the Greek system so that it positively reflects and enforces Dartmouth’s Code of Conduct.

The plan will hold all student organizations—including all Greek organizations—to much stricter standards of behavior. Every student who enrolls at Dartmouth will sign a Code of Conduct, which makes the community’s expectations for civility, dignity, inclusion, and safety explicit and enforceable. Those individuals and organizations that choose not to fulfill these higher expectations will no longer be part of the Dartmouth community.


How will the new housing system help curb high-risk behavior?

Dartmouth is introducing a new on-campus housing model to foster a more inclusive campus environment and help create a more diverse set of social opportunities for students. Beginning next year with the incoming class of 2019, every student who enters Dartmouth will be placed into one of six communities—with a cluster of residence halls as a home base—that are responsible for organizing and hosting social and academic programs, and will eventually have a dedicated space for study and social interaction.

Of course, a housing system alone won’t eliminate all high-risk behavior on campus, but the new system will encourage continuity and a feeling of community for students throughout their time at Dartmouth, provide new and alternative social options, and expose students to mature adult perspectives from faculty and staff advisers within the residences—all of which have been shown to curb high-risk behaviors.

How does the plan make the college more welcoming to minority groups and the LGBT community?

Diversity is fundamental to the Dartmouth experience and the College must do better. Hand in hand with creating a safer environment, MDF strives to create a more inclusive and diverse environment on and off campus for every student regardless of gender, race, orientation, or socioeconomic background. The plan outlines several steps for ensuring that minority groups and the LGBT community feel welcome on campus, including increasing the diversity of the faculty, providing more diverse and inclusive social options, and requiring all students to sign a new Code of Conduct that makes clear the expectations regarding civility, dignity, diversity, community, and safety of students on our campus.


How is MDF different from previous initiatives, most notably the Student Life Initiative from 2001?

The Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan was written with accountability at its core. To evaluate progress and ensure results, an external Review Panel, to be chaired by Tufts president emeritus Larry Bacow, has already been created. The panel will report annually to President Hanlon and the results will be readily available to the Dartmouth community and general public.

Dartmouth will also conduct two regular climate surveys and publish the results to ensure that all reforms are having the intended impact. Beginning in April 2015, Dartmouth will conduct the AAU Sexual Assault Survey on an annual basis, along with a Dartmouth campus climate survey in the fall of 2015. These survey results will also be publicly available.

How will the accountability committee enforce change? What will its role be?

The external Review Panel, chaired by Tufts President Emeritus Larry Bacow, will evaluate our progress on an ongoing basis as we implement the MDF Plan. Although we anticipate a smooth and effective transition, the panel will serve as an unbiased authority that will help us to truly gauge our progress and adjust our system if necessary. The committee will report annually to the president to ensure that Dartmouth’s leadership is carrying out the MDF Plan and that these steps are truly working to reduce extreme behaviors and promote inclusivity on campus. We will continue to work, invest, evaluate, and adjust until the Dartmouth community is a model for others.

Moving Dartmouth Forward