I need to speak out against distorted priorities and muddled thinking in Academia. Administrators and faculty at universities and colleges across the U.S. are hammering away at all sorts of perceived social wrongs and "threats to young minds" supposedly endemic to U.S. campuses, while our national political leaders are undermining the rule, and the enforcement, of law, and (as "just" the latest ideologically related incident), trained, well-armed terrorists are murdering political cartoonists and police officers in Paris.
On January 6, 2015, I e-mailed Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon, D'77, in response to his New-Year's update, which the Office of the President sent out as an e-mail blast, presumably, to all alumni:
Dear President Hanlon (Phil):
Happy New Year, and thanks for your January 5 update.
I can support almost everything you wrote. However, I must continue to call out the College's relentless, self-hating, ideologically turbo-charged focus on sexual assault, high-risk drinking, a lack of "inclusivity" (sic) and the "harm" of these phenomena on young lives.
Phil, what you describe has more to do with the fundamentals of young-adult
human biology and psychology, and out-of-control political correctness, than
with objective facts.
Can the College provide statistically significant data to prove that "sexual
assault" (please define according to state and federal law) is more of a
problem on Dartmouth's campus than can be expected for other college campuses, and for the general, age-adjusted national population?
What is high-risk drinking? Is there a definition, adjusted for age, physical
size, health status, etc., accepted by nationally recognized, authoritative
bodies, including experts such as physicians, experts in substance abuse,
attorney's and law enforcement experts? Is it within the power of current
science and medicine to "eliminate" high-risk drinking?
Is there a standard, legal definition for "inclusivity?" (sic). Is it unacceptable for diverse individuals and groups to have different social preferences? When does "unacceptable" become "illegal?" Does society have existing laws concerning civil rights? Does the College wish to follow different laws?
Phil, you and I and everyone else in the Dartmouth Community know that sexual
behavior, consumption of alcohol, and interpersonal / inter-group differences
can be problematic, dangerous, and/or illegal among college students. This is
not in dispute. That's why I expect Dartmouth to have policies and procedures
to deal with the darker side of college life. That's why we, as a society, also
have police departments, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, etc., all of whom
operate within systems of rules, regulations, laws, etc., established by their
respective governing bodies.
As an alumnus, I cannot pick up an official Dartmouth College Alumni
communication without being beaten over the head with issues that affect a
tiny fraction of the Dartmouth Community, and that are probably consistent with
experience on every other college campus in the country, as well as within the
age-adjusted U.S. population, in general.
I expect the College to deal responsibly with illegal sexual activity, illegal
drinking, and illegal discrimination. However, I prefer to remember the
College for something other than social engineering.
William L. (Bill) Robbins, '83