Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Vigilantism at Dartmouth: Dartmouth Women’s Response to Sexual Assault

Front page of "The Shit You Don't Hear About..." flyer
Twenty-two years ago, a flyer was posted all around Dartmouth’s campus with a shocking message. On the flyer, titled The Shit You Don’t Hear About, are articles airing out the transgressions of Dartmouth organizations and members of the community. The flyer was published anonymously, for fear of social and physical retaliation. Its biggest story is a poem performed at Beta Theta Pi (de-recognized by the College following this incident) in its fraternity meetings in the summer of 1995. The poem boasts about the sexual exploits of brothers of Beta Theta Pi. The poem includes racist comments against Native Americans, lewd objectification of the female body, body-shaming, and boasting about rape. Names of real Dartmouth students were used in the poem, as characters with dialogue and descriptions. The publishers of The Shit You Don’t Hear About redacted these names before posting the document. It also includes an article about Alpha Chi Alpha’s “Pledge Banquet Skit,” which features “mastectomy jokes, as well as material sure to be offensive to all women, and Asian/Asian-American students,” an article about intimidation and harassment tactics by the Alpha Delta Fraternity (de-recognized in 2015), and articles about the racist and sexist exploits of other members of the Dartmouth community.

Second page of the flyerWhile it is the only flyer (that I know of) published by this particular group, The Shit You Don’t Hear About does not stand alone. Dartmouth College has a history of women standing up when they feel the administration and community have failed them. Before the flyer went public, its publishers had littered the lawns of Alpha Chi Alpha and Beta Theta Phi with manure in retaliation. In 1989, a rally and campaign were held by an estimated 100 students in response to Dartmouth’s refusal to bring a male student, Kevin Acker, before the Committee on Standards after being accused by two female students of sexual assault. Posters were circulated with Acker’s face on it, warning students to stay away from him. (While not tried before the COS in relation to accusations from these two women, Acker was found guilty of “sexual misconduct” against a different woman at a later date.) In 1996, again posters of a student accused of sexual assault were again circulated around campus, this time anonymously.

In my research of sexual assault at Dartmouth College, again and again I have come across evidence of brave women who take justice in their own hands, not only to punish the accused, but to protect their fellow Dartmouth students. When Dartmouth denies a hearing with the Committee on Standards, or ignores a survivor’s report, or fails to adequately discipline those convicted, a sexual assaulter runs free and the Dartmouth community is put in danger. This type of vigilantism was an effort to curb that danger. Every person who saw one of those posters knew that the person depicted was not safe to hang around, and that sexual assault was not tolerated by this part of the community. That is an important and noble message, even and especially today.

It is sad that so many people, for good reason, have little faith in the judicial procedures concerning sexual assault on campus. It is, however, nice to know that even when Dartmouth does not step up, there are people on campus who do.

To look at the flyer, come to Special Collections and ask to see the Sexual Harassment Vertical File.

Posted for Faydra Richardson ’20, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2019 Summer term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship provides full funding for a current Dartmouth student to conduct research with primary sources during an off-term on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college’s past. For more information, visit the fellowship's website.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Comic Almanacs

Last year we acquired a huge collection of 19th-century comic materials from the collector Joseph Rainone. With Joe's help, we have been busy digitizing an important batch of comic almanacs. Cheaply printed, and marketed to a middle and working-class audience, they supplemented practical information with pioneering comics. The results are a troubling mix of racism and misogyny typical of 19th-century humor, alongside moments of innovation in graphic story telling.

Within the almanacs, seemingly no ethnic group is spared, but the comics are particularly caustic toward African American, Irish, Chinese, and Jewish peoples. We recognize that digitizing these materials and making them widely available could potentially lead to their use in ways that are antithetical to our social and cultural values. We also recognize that making these available opens them to historical critique. While we are uncomfortable with some of the implications of digitizing these materials, we believe that a critical eye turned on the past creates insight that develops avenues for social change.

To judge for yourself, you can see the digital collection evolve at The Joseph Rainone Comic Collection. And, if you search the catalog, you can find them all for use in the Rauner Library reading room.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Eastward Ho!

Title page of Eastward Hoe
Here in Special Collections, Shakespeare gets a lot of attention. In particular, our copy of the First Folio is regularly retrieved from the stacks for visitors and students alike to gaze upon in awe and reverence. We've blogged before about how his later folios often get short shrift in comparison. Today, we want to show some love to a contemporary of Shakespeare's whose poetry actually appears in the First Folio. Ben Jonson was an English playwright who is most well-known for his scathingly satirical plays and the numerous masques that he wrote for the entertainment of the English court. Some have argued that he was the first poet laureate of England because of his receipt of a royal pension beginning in 1616. The period between 1605 and 1620 is often referred to as his most successful, when he enjoyed the patronage of the king and court.

However, before he enjoyed the pleasure of King James I, Jonson initially experienced His Majesty's displeasure. In 1605, Jonson collaborated with fellow playwrights John Marston and George Chapman to create a drama titled Eastward Hoe. The satirical comedy presented the exploits of a London goldsmith named Touchstone and his two apprentices; in the process, Jonson and his collaborators cleverly referenced and sometimes parodied numerous other popular plays of the time, such as Tamburlaine and Hamlet. Unfortunately for the men, though, they were also a bit too edgy for the king's liking. The play contains numerous satirical anti-Scottish comments, which ultimately caused a scandal and led to their arrest for insulting His Majesty. After several months in prison, spent furiously writing letters of supplication to various noble patrons, the men were released from jail.

Here at Rauner, we are fortunate to have an early edition (perhaps a first edition!) of the play that caused such a ruckus. To see it, come to Special Collections and ask to see Hickmott 160.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Co-ed Committees: Bringing Women to Dartmouth

Trustee Study Committee organizational chartImmediately after beginning my research on Dartmouth’s road to coeducation as a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellow for the Summer 2019 term, I realized that I had greatly underestimated the complexity of the issue. The decision to go co-ed was about far more than whether the Trustees thought women were good enough for Dartmouth; it was about logistics. Before anyone could decide whether Dartmouth would go coeducational, they had to decide if it even could, and if it could, then how would they do it? Would they establish a coordinate college for women? An associate school? What would the costs be? Could Dartmouth predict and overcome a reduction in alumni donations? What of the issues of new facilities, greater numbers of women faculty, women’s athletics, housing? There was no immediately obvious answer to all of these questions.

To help sort out the issue, the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College decided to establish a series of committees that would tackle specific questions. These committees would gather information and then report back to the Board with their recommendations. The first committee the Trustees established was the Trustee Study Committee (TSC), which was created to determine the general feasibility of coeducation at Dartmouth.

The TSC was established in the Spring of 1969 and held its first full meeting on October 1st of that same year. Two weeks later, it established its four subcommittees. These were the Subcommittee on Academic Models, the Subcommittee on Student Residence, the Subcommittee on Non-Academic Activities, and the Subcommittee on the Education of Women. Some of these subcommittees even had sub-subcommittees, so complex were the issues.

Page 11 from the TSC reportOver the next several months of meetings, the TSC brainstormed a handful of potential models for coeducation and questions that needed to be addressed. They investigated alumni, student, and faculty opinion polls on coeducation, the experiences of Yale and Princeton in going coeducational, projected financial impacts of coeducation, ways to increase enrollment without exceeding the college’s capacity, federal discrimination laws, and more.

The TSC continued holding regular gatherings for two years, with the final meeting on April 3, 1971. There, they unanimously voted on several recommendations to the Board of Trustees. These recommendations strongly encouraged the Trustees to vote in favor of coeducation in any form, advising that the College begin admitting women to either Dartmouth College, an associate school, or a coordinate college for women beginning fall of 1972. They suggested a goal of matriculating 800 women. The TSC also discouraged reducing the male population below 3,000 and advised against increasing the on-campus population to more than 3,150 students at a time. To make these contradictory recommendations possible, they suggested that Dartmouth make more effective use of the Summer term. This would allow Dartmouth to have a larger total enrollment without increasing the number of students on campus at any given time.

These recommendations, though fruitful, introduced another level of complexity to the issue of implementing coeducation. The TSC may have encouraged coeducation and provided a series of feasible models, but they hadn’t settled on one idea in particular. The recommendation of year-round operation through the use of the summer term also would require extensive research and discussion. In order to address these two major issues, the Board of Trustees established two more committees: the Joint Committee on the Associated School and the Committee on the Year-Round Operation of the College.

Page 12 from the TSC reportThe Joint Committee on the Associated School was created to explore the possibility of an Associated School for Women at Dartmouth. Of the several academic models proposed, this was initially perceived as the most attractive. There was already an existing framework for associated schools, given the presence of the Tuck Business School and the Geisel Medical School. This would also help prevent the ire of many of the older alums, because it would still provide some separation of men and women. Dartmouth had become the last all-male bastion in the Ivy League, and many wanted to preserve the heavily masculine atmosphere.

The Committee on the Year-Round Operation of the College was tasked with gauging the student and faculty reaction to a summer term. They also needed to examine whether the proposed summer term would be voluntary or mandatory, and if it were voluntary, how many students would participate?

After several more months of debate, these two committees submitted their formal recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The Joint Committee on the Associated School had ultimately decided that an Associated School for Women was not the most attractive option, given overwhelming student and faculty opposition. They suggested that, were the Board to vote in favor of coeducation, it should be a model in which female students were fully integrated members of Dartmouth College. The Committee on the Year-Round Operation of the College submitted a final report encouraging the implementation of a full-parity summer term. There would be a single mandatory summer term for each student, and it would be academically equivalent to the other three terms.

And so, the Board of Trustees finally had the specific recommendations they needed to make an informed decision about coeducation. At an extended meeting on November 21st and 22nd 1971, the Board of Trustees made the historic vote to commit the college to the Dartmouth Plan for Year-Round Operation, with the matriculation of female students at Dartmouth College in the fall of 1972. Dartmouth, which had just celebrated its 200th year of all-male education, would finally be coeducational. It certainly wasn’t an easy or simple process, given the number of people involved and questions to be answered, but the decision was finally made, and the college could move forward into a new, more inclusive, era.

To learn more, come to Special Collections and ask to see Box 7632 of the Dean of Faculty's records (DA-165).

Posted for Grace Hanselman ’20, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2019 Summer term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship provides full funding for current Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources during an off-term on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college’s past. For more information, visit the fellowship's website.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

War-Time Reading

Green paper cover to Lady Audley's SecretWe have written before about our Confederate imprint of Lady Audley's Secret printed in Mobile, Alabama, in 1864 and bound in wallpaper. We just purchased a great companion piece: a Union counterpart from New York, also printed in the 1860s. Neither would have been authorized by the author, Mary Braddon: the absence of an international copyright law meant they were in the public domain in the United States (and the Confederate States). In both cases, these publishers were trying to feed a popular novel to the public on a budget.

The sensational story (it is a real page turner) excused the poor production standards. These were copies to be devoured--equally so in the North and the South. That they both survived the war and the subsequent years is a minor miracle.

You can take a look at the new addition to the collections by asking for Rare PR4989.M4L2 1860z.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Institutional Indifference and the Spirit of Dartmouth

Newspaper article related to the Redding Report
All is well for the minority students at Dartmouth College. That is, at least, what an official recruitment video from 2018 implies. Black and brown students are dappled throughout the advertisement: they write in notebooks, sit at oak tables with emeralite lamps, walk in graduation robes (an African sash draped over their shoulders), and sport goggles while peering at beakers. Here are people totally unencumbered by their racial background, freely pursuing an elite education. In the College’s words, this is “What Makes Dartmouth DARTMOUTH.”

And yet just months after this video was published the Student Assembly sent a campus-wide email denouncing a spate of racial incidents and the institution's quasi-apathetic response. The expression of racism varied: it was found in vicious emails, in slurs on dorm room doors, or in “the impersonation of current students.” The result remained the same: the Student Assembly held that “these hate crimes wound our sense of community.” Perhaps what makes Dartmouth what it is can be found in these occurrences too.

First page of the Redding ReportThere is an eerie resemblance between this email and the Redding Report published 44 years earlier. Formally titled “Institutional Racism and Student Life at Dartmouth College,” the document enumerates a long list of racial abuses suffered by the black population at the hands of the school. According to the authors, “various minority students have reported being told by a professor, before he had seen any of their work, that he knew they would not do well in his course because they were non-white.” They wrote of one episode in which a group of black students asked to use the Cohen-Bissell lounge to fraternize but were pointed in the direction of the Afro-American Society basement instead. They observed the coaches (only one of whom was black) poorly treating black athletes (of which there were several). They worried about the lack of nonwhite faces on committees--even on the one claiming students would be judged by a jury of their peers. They felt the alienation black students endure as a result of estrangement from the “Dartmouth family.”

Just as the 2019 email contended that racism “detract[s] from our individual and collective security,” denying a sense of emotional well-being to students, the 1974 report argues that the psychological problems afflicting some of Dartmouth’s black community was partially caused by a “traumatic cultural shock.”

Another disturbing parallel connecting the decades-wide gap between the institute of the 70s and the one of today is the College’s response. The students of the former remarked that “whenever Dartmouth College has been able to escape the issue (of racial inequality), it has tried to do so,” and when the school has acted its attempts were “incremental in nature or founded in insincerity.” In a similar vein, the Student Assembly writes “an insufficient reaction has been made by the administration...to further prevent intolerant individuals from acting against the well-being and unity of the Dartmouth community.”

Pessimism lingers in the conclusion of the Redding Report, with the authors anticipating that the
college won’t act on its own volition. Their cause for concern was later justified, as it took six months for the College to respond, and even then one author felt “that the Administration had not dealt directly with many of the allegations contained in the report, merely shifting responsibility for responding to these allegations to various committees.”

The writers charge the school with contradicting itself, repeatedly failing to guard its more vulnerable offspring all the while advertising itself as welcoming everyone into its family. In a prophetic voice whose sterness carries through more than forty years, one author offers both a way to resolve this paradox and an ultimatum: “The college can continue to take insufficient action against discrimination on the campus, but will have to be honest with the minority applicants and matriculating students.” It remains to be seen if any asterisks or daggers will appear, small but certainly present, when the school attempts to rally unity with phrases like “What Makes Dartmouth DARTMOUTH.”

To read the Redding Report, come to Rauner and ask for D.C. History LD1441 .C384.

Posted for Alexis Reaves ’20, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Internship during the 2019-2020 academic year. The Historical Accountability Student Research Internship provides limited funding for Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources during the school year on topics related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college’s past. For more information, visit the Historical Accountability Program’s website.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Belated Burial

Photograph of Charles Stern in uniform
This past weekend, the remains of Charles M. Stern Jr., a member of the class of 1936, were brought back to his home town of Albany, NY, for reburial nearly seventy-eight years after his death. Stern had been one of many unidentified sailors who died upon the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was destroyed during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Four hundred and twenty-nine crew members were killed by Japanese planes during the surprise attack that claimed the lives of 2,403 soldiers and civilians. Stern's remains had been interred in a cemetery in Hawaii until relatively recently, when efforts began to identify those who had previously been classified as "missing in action."

Newspaper article relating Joan Mayer Stern's experience during the attack on Pearl HarborAccording to a Dartmouth Alumni Magazine obituary in the February 1942 issue, Stern was the first Dartmouth man to lose his life in the war. He had been working in advertising ever since graduating from Dartmouth, but in 1940 had enlisted in the US Naval Reserve Midshipman's school in New York. Soon after, he was assigned to Honolulu. The following year, he married a hometown girl, Joan B. Mayer, who had only just graduated from Vassar College in June of 1941. Only few months later, he would die in service of his country while his new bride listened to the explosions from their apartment only fifteen miles away in Waikiki. After several days of waiting for some sign or message of Stern's survival, Joan accepted the worst and returned home to Albany. Soon after, she took a job at the Grumman aircraft factory on Long Island. In 1943, she was informed by the Navy that a new destroyer escort was to be named for her husband. The USS Stern launched on October 31, 1943, was stationed in the Pacific, and performed numerous roles while supporting US troops in the Philippines and during the battle of Iwo Jima before being decommissioned in 1946 with three battle stars.

To read more about Stern's life and death, come to Special Collections and ask to see his Alumni file.