On Wednesday, November 29, Dartmouth University students, faculty, and staff joined together in a “Solidarity Against Hatred Rally.” According to senior Danielle Strollo, the rally was held after a number of recent incidents targeted individuals and populations because of race and gender. Particularly at issue was the treatment of Native Americans who have a long tradition at Dartmouth.
Founded in 1769, Dartmouth was chartered to educate Native Americans. Later, the school adopted the image of an Indian as its mascot. Although the symbol has since changed, the legacy lingers in the history of the university. Dartmouth junior Sara del Nido explains in her column for The Dartmouth that, earlier this year, offensive t-shirts displaying Indians engaged in lewd acts were distributed at Homecoming, two students interrupted a Native American drum ceremony on Columbus Day, and the crew team threw a formal dance with a “Cowboy and Indian” theme. These events culminated in a bevy of opinion pieces in Dartmouth’s various news publications and, ultimately, in the “Solidarity Against Hatred Rally.” On campus, opinion remains fiercely divided between those who take the incidents lightly, those who see the events as appallingly racist, and those who believe the administration is impeding on their First Amendment rights by censoring student actions.
Primary sponsors of the rally included the Women of Color Collective , Native Americans at Dartmouth, Afro-American Society, Amnesty International, College Democrats, Dartmouth Progressives, Dartmouth Free Press, Gay Straight Alliance, Inter-Community Council, La Alianza Latina, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztl’n (MEChA). Hundreds of people turned out to hear University President James Wright, several deans, professors, and six students deliver speeches in an attempt to seek “unity through diversity.” President Wright declared that the disrespect shown to Native Americans “has caused tremendous pain and it now sits with all of us like an open wound.” He concluded his speech by looking to the future and stating, “These are issues for all of us. We won’t all agree. There will be differences. Let there be differences. Let us respect and treasure them, even as we affirm the reality of this single campus, our shared history, this one community.”