Dartmouth culture was painted, wrongly, with a broad brush
Jeff Melnick’s Nov. 19 letter (“Skip the life-imitates-art approach to Dartmouth’s culture of harassment”) highlighted a persistent fictional narrative about Dartmouth that must be corrected.
He referred to “a pervasive culture of sexual assault and harassment at Dartmouth College.” This is a falsehood, and it is symptomatic of reacting to rare, isolated incidents and using them to paint with a broad brush. The recent actions of three professors do not rationally indicate any pattern beyond themselves.
I have been closely involved with Dartmouth for decades, in many different roles. As at all universities, the overwhelming majority of students are caring and respectful people, but occasionally, someone acts in an unwarranted manner. It is wrong to apply these situations toward a generalized conclusion. Specifically, the actions of the three professors in question had no precedent.
Dartmouth has been characterized unfairly in the press for about 40 years, no thanks to a silly fictional movie. In the 1970s, with coeducation newly arrived, it was a difficult environment. But 21st century Dartmouth — with about as many female undergraduates as male — is light years removed from this.