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Hundreds of Dartmouth faculty, students sign letter urging school to fight ‘structural racism’

Demand more pay to compensate black faculty for ‘invisible labor’

Calling the school “racially hostile,” nearly 300 faculty members and students at Dartmouth College have signed a letter urging the school to have “an honest and public reckoning with Dartmouth’s exploitation of enslaved Africans.”

The letter, addressed to Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon and college trustees, urges the school “to take concrete steps to unravel its built-in structural racism perpetuated through the superficial and short-term fixes that our senior leadership constantly applies to the problem.”

The letter credits the unrest following the death of African American man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police for the timing of the requests. “Through our current national conversation on race many Americans are, for the first time, carefully considering the collective impact of the relentless war their country has waged on Black people, at all scales and by all means available,” reads the letter.

“The unrepentant White supremacy evident in this history has also shaped the mission, culture, and traditions of Dartmouth College,” states the letter, adding, “That fact demands our urgent attention.”

The letter was initiated by Ayo Coly, chairwoman of the African and African American Studies program, and Craig Sutton, a professor in the math department. Coly did not respond to a request from The College Fix for comment.

The demands come after the college itself issued a letter in early July promising a number of changes to address racial inequity, including requiring mandatory implicit bias training for all students, faculty, and staff.

Additionally, the school promised nonwhite community members will also have “greater access” to nonwhite therapists, due to “the toll systematic racism takes on Black students and all students of color.”

Also, Dartmouth last week elevated history professor Matthew Delmont to a newly created position which will advise the school’s president on faculty equity, diversity and inclusivity. Delmont’s research as a historian features a focus on African American history. A spokeswoman for Dartmouth did not respond to a request from The College Fix to comment for this story.

Nonetheless, the signatories of last week’s letter found that the July 1 pledge by the school’s president fell “very short of the concrete plan of action that we developed,” and that the letter “demonstrates a lack of attention to previous reports.”

“We call on the senior leadership and Board of Trustees to dismantle the structures that implicitly or explicitly work against and devalue Black, Brown, and other people of color at Dartmouth,” write the letter’s authors.

Among the letter’s “suggestions” are hiring more black administrators, professors, and other employees, increasing school support for the African & African American Studies program, and increasing the number of black leaders on campus. According to the group, persons of color or minoritized groups comprise less than one percent of the 3,213 employees at the college.

As a goal, the group seeks to double the number of black faculty members by the year 2027.

This lack of black employees forces faculty members of color to engage in hours of “invisible labor” as informal consultants to colleagues, students, and the administration about “racial bigotry, cultural practices, intergroup communication, racist incidents, and anti-ractist practices,” states the letter.

“We recommend that the lack of compensation for this essential work be rectified in the near future,” write the authors.

As is the case with all Ivy League campuses, racial provocation is not new. In 2015, a group of Black Lives Matter protesters stormed a campus library, yelled obscenities at students, even pushing some individuals attempting to study.

In 2018, Dartmouth held a seminar called “What’s Up With White People?” which identified “the different types of white people and how you can learn to spot them in their natural habitats.”

“Our aim is to create an anti-racist Dartmouth committed to racial justice all the time, not only when horrific events of violence against Black people and other communities of color occur but also when the illusion that ‘everything is okay’ becomes normalized,” write the authors.

MORE: Dartmouth removes weather vane because it reminds people why college was founded

IMAGE: Andrew Gwozdziewycz / flickr.com

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About the Author
Senior Reporter
Christian focuses on investigative, enterprise and analysis reporting. He is the author of "1916: The Blog" and has spent time as a political columnist at USA Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and National Review Online. His op-eds have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, City Journal, Weekly Standard and National Review. He has also been a frequent guest on political television and radio shows. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Marquette University and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.