When one comes to the College with the expectation that it is a pristine place of learning and community, as it has been billed, one may be demoralized to find there a constant, omnipresent reactionarism, brutality, and utter apathy. But there are those who find learning and community, instead, in those around them, rather than the place where they reside. If we do not love Dartmouth, we love the people, the fervor of our fellow students who know that justice lies in the uprooting of the current order.
Here is a brief history of the campus left from the 1960s to the present. (I note here that left is a catch-all term; what I mean here is any movement that challenges the genocidal project of capitalism, from Indigenous movements, to communism, to Black radicalism, to all their wonderful overlappings and interdependencies.)
We learn from and advance upon a long history of student action; we are a current that runs steady counter and counter steady. As Frantz Fanon writes in the Wretched of the Earth: “We are strong in our own right, and in the justice of our point of view.”
An important note: Dartmouth has a history of struggle that stretches far before 1960. This struggle, carried out largely by Indigenous and Black people, is rooted in opposition to Dartmouth’s very being—its founding as a colonialist project, its growth into an imperialist one. However, for the sake of relatively manageable reading, I will not be covering this important history.
A second note: the nature of such things is that they happen together, intertwined. Many of these movements overlap and support one another (such as the 1979 Winter of Discontent and apartheid movements).
If you are on campus and wish to learn more about the history of resistance at Dartmouth, please visit College Archivist Peter Carini’s exhibit “The People’s History,” which will cover slavery at Dartmouth; women and rape culture; Indigenous symbols; the LGBTQ+ movement at Dartmouth; and racism alongside the Orozco murals through the archives. This event is on September 18, 2021 from 3-4:30 PM at Rauner Special Collections Library. Peter Carini himself is also an amazingly knowledgeable and approachable resource; I thank him for directing me through archives for this history, and highly recommend those wanting to learn more to reach out to him.
Civil Rights and Black Struggle
This era of the campus left begins with abolitionist and Black radical action alongside the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Generally, as years passed, crises grew in scale—students recognized the appeal of radicalism, and student campaigns increased in degree and demand.
Students largely united against segregationism, regardless of their race. In 1963, Governor George Wallace of Alabama was invited by Dartmouth’s Undergraduate Council to speak on his support of segregation. At a time when Dartmouth had no more than six black students on campus, he was nonetheless confronted by a peaceful protest of 200 picketeers, although he was allowed to give a two-hour speech interrupted. Student solidarity and action continued to grow: Wallace’s second visit, in 1967, took on a heightened tenor. 2,600 students gathered to protest his visit, and 500 of those students forcefully rocked the car that Wallace sat within in what would later be referred to as “The Wallace Riot.”
“I was almost killed up at Dartmouth!” Wallace would later tell students at Princeton.
Dartmouth was quick to receive backlash from a white supremacist press; the administration scrambled to apologize. Then-President John Sloan Dickey admonished Black students, telling them that he “understood their passion but disagreed with their methods”—a repetition of the phrase that would come to greet any student who dared take action beyond unobtrusive [sanctioned] protest.
The Wallace Riot had been preceded by a spike in revolutionary, if not communist, desire. In 1965, Malcolm X arrived at Dartmouth to deliver a lecture on “The Black Revolution in America,” “If you don’t make things as good for us as they are for you, we will make them as bad for you as they are for us,” he would then write in the guest book in Cutter Hall. Predictably, his reception was mixed; his dedication to Black liberation was regarded as frivolous, frightening, and inconceivable to the predominant white bourgeois. Nonetheless, the Black radical movement at Dartmouth maintained a powerful ideological reach that marched on undeterred.
One such way that the march continued was through organization: in 1966, the student Afro-American Society (AAS, later AAm) was officially recognized, beginning a long legacy of Black student resistance that continues today. At the time, the AAm worked closely with Dartmouth’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a broadly New Left movement that would continue to be present throughout the late 1900s. Solidarity came from other student organizations, such as the Political Action Committee and the (still-active, although now “apolitical”) Dartmouth Christian Union donated money to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and traveled to Mississippi to work with the burgeoning civil rights movement there.
Students attacked from all angles. Importantly, they recognized and targeted the capital of the institution that continued to uphold segregation. AAm and SDS members demonstrated against Dartmouth’s $400,000 (around $1 million today) investment in Eastman Kodak due to its refusal to hire Black employees.
Present still in this era was the unavoidable conflict between assimilation (wanting to belong within the College) and liberation (wanting the end of the College). That is, if the university is/was built on Black exploitation and seemed only content to further it, what were Black students’ place within it? Gregory Young, writer for Black Praxis (the AAm’s publication) said none. He argued for a militant stance:
Don’t git caught up in the enemy’s camp, eatin’ his food, thinkin’ his thoughts. . . chump! . . . ya brothers at home, poisoned, dyin’ in the streets. . . . N****** up at Dartmouth ‘being cool.’ Acting ‘ra-tion-al,’ playin’ the role—Nothin’s a game my brother! . . . Dyin’s for real!
Vietnam War Protests
Active also during this time were student anti-war movements against the Vietnam War, intertwined within the larger struggle for civil rights. There was a dual awakening: students recognized the violences of U.S. imperialism, foreign presence, and warmaking, if mainly through the deaths of U.S. troops. Jamie Newton ‘68, then-class valedictorian, summed up succinctly student sentiment:
The Vietnam war is a colossal stupidity, a vast international atrocity, and an expensive lesson in the futility of modern aggressive imperialism—for, thank God, we are losing that war.
Masses of Dartmouth students primarily organized by the SDS organized various peaceful anti-war protests that remained peaceful but were nevertheless denounced by administration and counter-protestors.
These protests peaked with the occupation of Parkhurst Hall on the afternoon of May 6, 1969. About 60 students and alumni occupied Parkhurst Hall—the main administration building at Dartmouth—forcibly removing President Dickey, Dean Seymour, and other occupants before claiming control of the building by barring the doors. This would be one of the most incendiary demonstrations of the entire anti-war era, and would serve as a testament to the power that physical action could have on campus to future students.
The Parkhurst occupiers made specific demands rooted in Dartmouth’s complicity in the war effort: they demanded the immediate elimination of the ROTC and the end of all military recruiting at Dartmouth, demands largely supported by the majority of students and staff. The occupation was accompanied by another major protest on campus, which ultimately led to the arrest of 45 students.
The U.S.’s violent invasion of Cambodia in 1970 would further inflame the anti-war spirit of the country. Then-President John George Kemeny, in an attempt to avoid violent protests in the manner of the Kent State protests that saw the murders of four students, cancelled classes for a week and “acknowledged” a peaceful protest of 2,500 students on the Green in an attempt to lower tensions and subvert the process of changing Dartmouth’s investments into war in any tangible way.
Case in point: After four years of continued unrest, the Trustees ultimately abolished the ROTC in 1973, conceding to the Parkhurst occupiers’ demands. However, mass alumni pressure eventually led to its reinstatement in 1975; if anything, also a testament to the power of a large sect of reactionary students that would fight, and often continues to fight, tooth and nail against the campus left.
1979 Winter of Discontent
In 1979, Dartmouth was full of tension. The College had begun to admit women in 1972, and they continued to face constant, horrendous sexual harassment or assault by male students and professors alike. At the same time, Indigenous students who were calling for the end of the usage of the Indigenous symbol as Dartmouth’s unofficial mascot faced opposition by racist students who were more than happy to propagate colonialist logics. This “debate” brought with it a wave of racial and sexual violence; one against which the female, Indigenous, Latinx, and Black students were able to mobilize against.
Things could only come to a boiling point. A member of the class of ‘79 described incidents in which women had their shirts ripped off by fraternity men while walking down the street, and were purposefully urinated or vomited on while in fraternities. In her words: “An attitude which is not merely chauvinistic, but overtly abusive toward women, is institutionalized.” At the same time, white Dartmouth students mocked Indigenous students through violently racist stereotypes. In what would become one of the defining events of the year, three Dartmouth skated past in mockery of Indigenous garb.
And so, with the eve of the Winter Carnival of 1979, the Winter of Discontent began. Students saw the possibility of a better world, Dartmouth be damned, and they were ready to see it come to fruition. In February, a crowd of 300 gathered for a “Convocation on the Green” in support of admissions policy that barred considerations of sex. Another rally would occur two weeks later for equal access and full integration of women and minorities into College life. Protestors presented a petition for “equal access” signed by 2,000 students to the Board of Trustees—students received an informal meeting, but found themselves further angered by Trustees’ refusal to listen.
The Winter of Discontent also saw the advent of the protests against apartheid in South Africa. In February, 60 students gathered in front of Parkhurst Hall for a symbolic protest of the College’s investments in apartheid South African companies—students then marched to Cutter Hall (home of the AAm), before placing a black casket with a gold cross atop an ice-sculpture cemetery of six graves. The graveyard was later dismantled “accidentally” by clean-up staff. A couple weeks later, 150 students marched to protest investment in South Africa, the status of the Black Studies Program at Dartmouth, and minority admissions policies. While an equal access statement signed with administration temporarily assuaged students, the revoking of the suspension of the students from the hockey game incident rekindled student efforts.
In March, The Native Americans at Dartmouth, the AAm, and the Latino Forum organized a rally to protest racism in the center of the Green. 200 students stood in front of the central Winter Carnival snow sculpture, listening to speeches describing the takedown of the mass: to destroy the sculpture to symbolically destroy the “all-white” values of Dartmouth. Attendees then spray-painted the sculpture with their organization initials. The same afternoon, President Kemeny would issue a public statement calling “for calm and for an end to inflammatory rhetoric.”
As their next move, the same three groups from above, joined by Women at Dartmouth, as well as the Interfraternity Council drafted a joint student proposal in support of an institutionalized equal access admissions policy. Furthermore, Dartmouth faculty voted for a cancellation of classes on March 8 for what administration billed as “discussions devoted to an exploration of the fundamental issues regarding race relations,” and what students called “Moratorium Day.” The two-hour “Forum on Recent Events and Minority Issues,” as well as small moderated groups resulted into what students called fruitful, civil discussion.
Of course, whether Moratorium Day resulted in the change that students demanded is difficult to measure. Perhaps Moratorium Day was simply administrations attempting to keep the peace; perhaps it was students attempting to appease each other; perhaps it was students attempting to genuinely learn from each other—and the truth, most likely, is neither solely one nor the other.
As James DeFrantz ‘79, then-president of the AAm noted, “These are examples of institutional realities that help to make Dartmouth a living hell for black students and for minority students in general.” There were, as was/is common, a number of voices that attempted to defang the student movement by claiming that equal access were, in some way, inherent and natural to the Dartmouth environment—and that student resistance held “nothing radical in insisting that Dartmouth College live up to these commitments” (Professor of English William Cook). Nonetheless, the campus struggle lay not only against administration, but also against students who replicated and fomented the ideologies of the institution.
While the Winter Carnival ended, discontent continued. April saw the first women’s “Take Back the Night” march to continue the fight against gender-based violence. Furthermore, the AAm led campaigns against bourgeois students who had been arguing for a new wing to be installed in the contemporary dining hall due to not wanting to eat with the dining staff.
While protests around Dartmouth’s investments in apartheid South Africa, and thus its enabling of the regime, began in the Winter of Discontent, they ramped up in the 1980s—and today, still remains one of the greatest examples of the university’s hands deep in bloody operations worldwide; of the death and suffering for the sake of capital; of mass student power.
Student organizations such as the AAm, Alpha Phi Alpha, the Dartmouth Radical Union, and the International Student Association began working to spread the urgency of the struggle against apartheid. They cooperated with broader community organizations such as the Upper Valley Committee for a Free Southern Africa, hosting anti-apartheid speakers such as Dennis Brutus (who faced deportation for his opposition to apartheid). Alongside ideology, students largely targeted the heart of the institution—its capital.
Dartmouth College had invested $63.4 million in companies that profited off of apartheid labor, and were unwilling to divest from such a large venture. Then-president David Thomas McLaughlin elucidates this relationship far more concisely than we ever could in his autobiography:
But the issue was a difficult one for Dartmouth, because many Fortune 500 companies were doing business in South Africa, and much of the college’s endowment was invested in those corporations.
McLaughlin, as well as all his peers, attempted to excuse their unwillingness to divest by claiming issues of “complexity”—“American businesses believed… they could exert a far more powerful and positive influence on its government than would result from their withdrawal.” He notes: “the activists did not buy that reasoning at all.” Neither do we. As our predecessors clearly knew—U.S. investment did nothing but create the conditions for apartheid to continue. It was a simple conclusion; McLaughlin’s was a false, deranged, violent one.
McLaughlin and his peers reiterated his support for Dartmouth’s bloody presence in South Africa by citing the Sullivan Principles, a set of “principles” set forth by a pastor that helped imperialist businesses justify their support of apartheid through marginal betterings of working conditions.
In 1983, faculty began pushing Dartmouth to divest immediately and fully. Proposals and petitions for divestment were delivered to the trustees throughout 1984 and 1985—who, in response, created a conciliatory committee that served to appease the Dartmouth population. This same committee would simply reaffirm the Sullivan Principles.
The snake that is the college could not devour itself—how could it, when it depended so much on apartheid labor? And when the same people who headed these massive operations of exploitation sat also in the seats of power at the College? Take George B. Munroe, Trustee and CEO of the Phelps Dodge Corporation—one of the many corporations doing the bulk of their work through apartheid labor, as well as one of Dartmouth’s pet companies. They engineered apartheid, used apartheid, and thus, they had no intention to end apartheid. And while all Ivies shared this pleasant little dilemma, Dartmouth was the school and McLaughlin the president to tell Jesse Jackson right to his face that they did not need to divest because they had adopted the Sullivan Principles, whereas President Sovern of Columbia would divest a week after their meeting in 1985.
But students refused the logic of powerlessness and inevitability. In June of 1984, two students barged into a Board of Trustees meeting. Students founded the Dartmouth Committee of Divestment (DCD), which would serve as the champion and site of anti-apartheid organizing on campus, as well as a financial sponsor for anti-apartheid speakers.
Construction of the shantytowns on the Green began on November 18, 1985. DCD’s intention was to make Dartmouth’s links to apartheid, and the brutality of apartheid itself, as visible as possible. They succeeded—the shanties quickly became a focal point of the apartheid protests. Occupied daily by DCD members, standing stark against the open campus, they and their inhabitants forced all those on campus to confront the reality of apartheid.
And in succeeding, they could only but draw the ire of both reactionary students and administration. The Dartmouth Review had formed shortly before apartheid protests, in 1980, and served as a way for such students to fraternize in an ideology of hate while increasingly organizing their own operations. For example, the Review would later hold a “classy” black-tie party in full view of the shanties. Administration first entertained the idea of destroying the shanties immediately, but ultimately decided to allow them to stand after a faculty and student demonstration. (Whereas other schools around the nation, such as UC Berkeley, had seen similar anti-apartheid shanties destroyed on the administration and police’s commands, or had already reneged to student desires, such as Columbia—Dartmouth treated the maintenance of the shanties with a sort of detached centrism and proclaimed their dedication to “intellectual freedom.”)
No administration action was ultimately taken, however, as the shanties would be destroyed on January 21, 1986. Three out of four shanties (one was spared with a person inside) were mangled with pickaxes by a group of students linked to the Review who called themselves “The Committee to Beautify the Green Before Winter Carnival.” When the administration refused to take immediate action, the campus erupted.
The Parkhurst Occupation began on January 22nd. 100 students and a handful of professors marched into Parkhurst, expelled all occupants, and occupied the President’s Office. They would remain there for 30 hours before President McLaughlin cancelled classes and called the campus for a discussion on divestment and racism.
Student resistance would continue until divestment was attained. The battered but undying remains of the shanties stood throughout the remainder of 1986’s Winter Carnival. One was eventually moved to the front of the President’s Office, where 18 students who refused to vacate it upon removal were arrested. Later in February, a group of 300 students would protest, calling for McLaughlin’s retirement in light of his poor response to the protests. In February, students protested after the New Hampshire Governor advised President McLaughlin to reverse 6 of the 12 suspensions that the Committee on Standards had given to the vandalizers. On March 21, Dartmouth College students and the United Steel Workers of America co-sponsored a rally at the Phelps Dodge headquarters in New York City, demanding that chairman George Munroe resign from the Board of Trustees and for his egregious anti-union tactics alongside his little apartheid affair. Around this time, campus protests against CIA recruitment as well as international solidarity, such as with South African miners, grew.
Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association members recounted how, on November 13, 1989, students rushed the Board of Trustees meeting to force a vote on full divestment. Later that day, the Board of Trustees would announce Dartmouth’s full divestment from companies operating in apartheid South Africa.
The 1990s and Early 2000s
The 1990s were not as marked by large crests of events as were the prior years—protests, generally, were fewer in number and lesser in scale; but by no means does this indicate a failure of the campus left to engage in the issues of the time.
In 1992, students mobilized around the Rodney King verdict, with the AAm leading protests throughout Hanover and on the Green. “No justice! No peace!” repeated students in what would be the predecessor to abolitionist movements and groups on campus.
Indigenous protests would also continue throughout the 1990s. For example, protests of Columbus Day occurred in the October of 1992. One strong victory came from student, Indigenous-led protests in 1993 against Hydro-Quebec, a Canadian utility company that threatened the Cree Tribes’ traditional lands. After student protests and a petition signed by more than 2,300 students, faculty, and alumni, Dartmouth ultimately sold $6.8 million in bonds in the company.
This period also saw sustained, contained protests against CIA recruitment, as well as a rise in protests for LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality. The Rainbow Alliance—the then-active gay rights group at Dartmouth—organized around anti-gay laws passed during this time. Furthermore, students took part in successive Take Back the Night rallies, drawing inspiration from the Winter of Discontent.
The early 2000s also saw a similar diversity in student action, even as Dartmouth continued to obfuscate its reproduction of racism, imperialism, and sexism, underneath a new, shiny veneer of diversity and inclusion.
In April 2001, 350 students gathered at Collis Common Ground to intercept the Board of Trustees’ quarterly meeting on campus at what was referred to as a “forum for dialogue.” This protest was initially a presentation of separate demands from women, Indigenous students, and other students of color, various in nature and scale. Demands included a declaration from the Board of Trustees that Dartmouth was antiracist and antisexist, greater retention of minority professors, and a Women’s Resource Center. The forum quickly grew into a larger sharing of grievances and further demands, before the crowd eventually mobilized, gathered around the 1930s Room where the Trustees’ gathering was happening, and were then forced back to Collis. While a large demonstration, the organizers were demoralized by the lack of Trustee response. This gathering has much to teach us in student power to mobilize popular feelings of dissent around the College, even without a clear organization or principled stance, even as it failed in receiving a response.
The early 2000s also saw a new burst of anti-war protests around the Iraq War in 2003. However, this largely occurred off-campus, with 50 Dartmouth students joining a national protest on the National Mall.
“Solidarity Against Hatred”
In 2006, the anti-Indigeneity that lay dormant under the surface of the school once again bubbled to the top. During orientation week, the Dartmouth Review sold t-shirts with the racist Indigenous masoct on them; fraternity pledges disrupted a sacred drumming performance meant to recognize the genocide of Indigenous people by Columbus by clapping, dancing, and then running through the drum circle; GDX sold homecoming t-shirts depicting a Holy Cross crusader performing oral sex on an Indigenous person, and a crew team formal chose “Cowboys, Indians, and Barnyard Animals” as its theme.
The campus responded accordingly. 500 students gathered on the Green in protest of the Dartmouth Review in a “Solidarity Against Hatred” rally. While the Dartmouth Review had been one of the most powerful organizations on campus at this time, catapulting reactionary bourgeois students into positions of power, primarily ideologically, this rally marked a decline in its power to the obscurity of today.
In 2010, student activism around immigration took center stage as a result of national debate surrounding the DREAM Act. Undocumented Students organized hunger strikes to push Dartmouth to support the DREAM Act to Congress, which succeeded. These efforts were later channeled into the creation of Dartmouth CoFIRED, a organization dedicated to undocumented students and immigration rights that still, today, serves as one of the hallmark organizations of the student left.
Occupy Dartmouth (Occupy Wall Street), the Dartmouth Radical, #Realtalk Dartmouth
From 2012-2013, Dartmouth saw protests in solidarity with the national Occupy Wall Street movement, which focused on economic equality and justice. It was around this time that the first iteration of the Dartmouth Radical was created, serving to popularize and spread the debate on campus. The Dartmouth Radical was founded by various undergraduate students and initially advised by Jeff Sharlet as a “leftist counterweight to the Review” and to fill the void left by the defunct The Dartmouth Free Press.
Students, some of whom were part of the Dartmouth Radical, and most of whom were women and/or people of color, were moved to action by a series of events between 2008-2013, ranging from sexual assaults on campus to verbal homophobic and racial attacks by students. These students put together #Realtalk—a spoken demonstration and discussion that would provide future students with advice for and by marginalized students at Dartmouth. On April 19, 2013, at an attempt to reach incoming students after having posters torn down, #Realtalk students were assaulted by college employees while attempting to enter ‘53 Commons, in which a Dimensions orientation show was occurring. Although they managed to enter and interrupted the show, they were countered by the Dimensions performers themselves with chants of “We love Dartmouth.” In their recounting of the event, one participant notes how panicked they were. While the protestors did not face disciplinary action from the college, Dartmouth students expressed violent threats through anonymous platforms such as Bored@Baker (a functionally older Librex), which were of such a nature that the administration decided to cancel classes for a day. #Realtalk was successful at getting students to discuss issues of violence and racism; nevertheless, lessons of organization and preparation can be taken from its ultimate execution.
In 2014, the Freedom Budget—a list of demands to the school curated by a collective of predominantly Black students and faculty—was delivered to President Hanlon’s office, and was shortly followed by another occupation of Parkhurst after the administration failed to respond to the demands. To avoid repetition, we will direct you to the wonderful Freedom Budget article on its history and efforts to revive it today.
The Late 2010s
As we tumble further and further into crisis, find the clock ticking down against capitalism (or to quote Rosa Luxemburg, as capitalism “moves toward a point when it will be unbalanced, when it will simply become impossible”), the need for the student left to organize takes on a ever-renewed urgency and cause. The past few years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the college to confront, to some degree, its continued presence in, reliance on, and support of mass exploitation and premature death.
2015 saw a flurry of protests around Black Lives Matter, with the NAACP protesting the vandalism of #BLM posters in Collis, as well as a die-in protest in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising. Protests in 2016 surrounded continued Zionism on campus, such as those in defense of Jasbir Puar, a pro-Palestinian academic who had come as a speaker to an event hosted by the now-defunct Gender Research Institute (GRID) and who had been attacked by Zionist publications and faculty. Other protests involved calling out the College’s continued disregard for faculty of color, such as Aimee Bahng, a well-qualified Asian professor who was denied tenure and whose denial led to further existing frustration around the lack of Asian-American studies on campus.
In 2017 a bulk of more liberal protests took place following the Trump election. The Women’s March was a prime example, as well as protests in defense of the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, present also were continued student fights around divestment from fossil fuels and the Keystone pipeline (organized largely by the Sunrise Movement at Dartmouth), as well as protests of Trump’s then-travel ban, with over 200 Dartmouth students, faculty, and Upper Valley community members participating in the “Main Street March for Human Rights” on February 4.
For the most part, protests around 2018 and 2019 centered around immigration and resistance to Border Patrol. Much of these protests come from the fact that Hanover, being close to the Canadian border, is subject to frequent immigration checks by ICE officers.
Capitalism collapses around us. See the pandemic—the mass death, the austere apathy; see the climate crisis—the massive floods, the red skies. Accordingly, there has risen a new urgency in the campus left; a becoming to struggle from survival. There is a common knowledge that we cannot stand idly by.
At the same time, we have been limited by the physical realm. The remote term has fundamentally changed the ways in which people could organize. Campaigns have been shuttled further online; students tried to unite on and off campus to the best of their ability.
During the advent of the pandemic, in 20W, the Dartmouth Student Union was formed as a response to the increasing crises as a mutual aid fund. It quickly became a temporary home of the campus left, expanding from a fund into a space of political education and mobilization; the DSU filled a vacuum that had appeared on campus with either the suppression of or unfortunate demises of multiple student organizations. It stepped in when the school was unable to meet the material needs of students—imagine, a fund that goes solely funded by individual donations doing more than a school with billions in its pocket. (For more information on the DSU, see Rebecca’s wonderful article here).
But the school not only failed, in its violent austerity, to redistribute its wealth to students, but also to sustain student life itself. Three students committed suicide, and students know that it was because Dartmouth College refused to listen to students and their needs and because Dartmouth College refused to provide resources and flexibility knowing full well it could do so. Dartmouth seeks to sweep all its sins from the past two years under the rug. The onus falls upon us, then, to not let them do so.
Throughout the pandemic, students have been mobilizing for justice for their peers (past, present, and future), be it through vigils or protests. (For more on the abject failure of the administration during this time, please look at S. Lamontagne’s piece).
From this terror spring the Dartmouth Young Democratic Socialists of America, an openly socialist org dedicated to more dedicated labor organizing, political education, and student agitation. Throughout the pandemic, for example, student workers found their hours cut. During this time, the YDSA began laying the groundwork of a labor coalition, and led the revival of the Dartmouth Radical that you read now (For more on the YDSA and socialism at Dartmouth, see Kaya's piece).
In May of 2021, Israeli forces launched a brutal eviction of the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, prompting global uprising in support of the Palestinian cause. Palestinian community leaders and students at the school joined with the Palestine Solidarity Coalition (al-Nur Muslim Student Association, Native Americans at Dartmouth, the AAm, Jewish Voice for Peace VT-NH, CoFIRED, RISE Upper Valley, the DSU, Dartmouth YDSA, and Graduate Women in Science and Engineering at Dartmouth). The coalition successfully organized a rally of 250 people strong, including students and those from the Upper Valley community. (For a more detailed exposition of the May events, see the reflections by the PSC.)
With the fall term and all the fun of climate disaster, the pandemic, and the collapse of capitalism generally surrounding us, the campus left will likely, and must, gain an increased presence and garner student power on campus. Organizations such as the DYDSA, the DSU, and the AAm that continue to organize today will likely be at the forefront of these operations, regardless of what shape they may ultimately take.
This article provides a broad overview of the rich history of student movements at Dartmouth, with their successes and failures.
A final note I omitted in my introduction was that, in such a history, things will undoubtedly be forgotten. I relied heavily on The Dartmouth’s archives, the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine’s archives, and other sources when available (for example, the original Dartmouth Radical’s Wordpress, David McLaughlin’s autobiography Choices Made, the Wayback Machine). Nonetheless, there is so much history maintained solely in the memories of those who lived it.
A couple of observations can be suggested here: that the lack of a unified vision—no common world envisioned—hindered some student movements; that movements die out due to lack of student effort resulting from restrictive school schedule (the D-Plan) as well as the blur of the institution; that above all, it is the ideology of the College (alongside the practices of from which it springs) that is the prime enemy, and that which makes students collaborators to a school deeply reactionary down to its very bones. The counter-movement comes in more than one way, and we must be organized.
Above all, there are moments of hope and victory; visions of the world ahead. The campus left is a river, it flows about here and there, but there is a destination, if the path meanders occasionally. What we seek is the ocean, waiting patiently at the end.
The Dartmouth Radical