Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon said Wednesday that "enough is enough" when it comes to student behavior on campus, and announced a new committee to fight sexual violence, high-risk drinking, and lack of inclusion at the elite Ivy League school.
“We have taken important steps forward over the last several years, but progress does not equal success,” Hanlon said in a speech Wednesday night. “We need to move faster. Risky and harmful behaviors stand between us and realizing Dartmouth’s amazing promise and potential. We cannot let that happen.”
Dartmouth's image has been tarnished by high-profile allegations of sexual assault, and federal investigators are looking into how the university handles sexual misconduct on campus. The Washington Post suggests that the bad publicity may be taking a toll on Dartmouth's admissions, and a New York Times investigation of 2013 early admissions trends found that while comparable schools like Cornell and Colgate saw applications hikes of 16% and 20% respectively since 2012, Dartmouth's applications fell by over 12%.
Hanlon announced the formation of a committee to change the campus culture and fight risky sex behavior, binge drinking and "lack of inclusion," which could mean some kind of action against Dartmouth's notoriously rowdy Greek system. A Dartmouth fraternity was featured in a scathing 2012 hazing expose in Rolling Stone and the school's frats were also the basis for the famous 1978 movie Animal House.
While Hanlon's speech may not seem particularly groundbreaking, his refusal to shy away from discussing these tricky issues may indicate a newly candid approach that other college Presidents may soon adopt. “These are issues everywhere,” Hanlon told the Washington Post. “A prospective student or parent should be concerned if a campus is not talking about them.” Hanlon's speech comes just a day after Senator Claire McCaskill announced a massive survey of how colleges and universities respond to sexual assault allegations in an effort to add transparency to what has become a nationwide problem.