Dartmouth College has responded to intensely negative national media coverage over a Black Lives Matter protest that harassed white students by issuing an apology, not to the students who were harassed, but instead to the protesters themselves for being subject to conservative criticism.
A group of about 150 Dartmouth students paraded Thursday through the school’s Baker-Berry Library, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and harassing students in the library who were attempting to study. A writer with the school’s independent conservative paper, The Dartmouth Review, claimed to see a girl pinned up against a wall as protesters called her a “filthy white bitch.” Chants of “Fuck your white privilege!” and “You filthy white piece of shit!” were reported as well, and some witnesses claim doors were blocked off and specific students targeted for verbal attacks if they refused to join into the protest. One student who attempted to flee the protest reportedly came under a barrage of harassment from protesters who allegedly screamed obscenities at them.
Tsion Abera, a junior and vice president of Dartmouth’s NAACP branch, denied that any protesters were violent but said there was profanity and harassment, and that it was all part of the plan.
“These allegations of physical assault are lies to make white students look like the victims and students of color to look like the perpetrators,” Abera told The Dartmouth. “The protest was meant to shut down the library. Whatever discomfort that many white students felt in that library is a fraction of the discomfort that many Natives, blacks, Latina and LGBTQ people feel frequently.”
But despite the spectacular scene, Dartmouth College officials have made a rather weak response. The day after the protest, college president Phil Hanlon sent out a campus-wide email that affirmed the importance of treating people with “dignity and respect” but made no mention of the Thursday protest that obviously prompted it.
The school released a short statement Monday saying that no reports of violence had been made to the school, but that other complaints related to the protest were being investigated. Leigh Remy, head of Dartmouth’s judicial affairs office, told The Dartmouth that several “bias incident” reports had been made by students who claim to have felt intimidated by the protest.
But Remy said that several more complaints were coming from the protesters themselves, who claim to feel unsafe after being accused of violence on social media platforms like Yik Yak.
In fact, so far, the only people Dartmouth has seen fit to apologize to are the protesters themselves. During a Monday night community discussion at the school’s black affinity dormitory, vice provost for student affairs Inge-Lise Ameer apologized to protesters for the hostile coverage their protest received.
“There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not being very nice,” Ameer said to the protesters.
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