A Message from President Beilock


Dear members of the Dartmouth community,

I want to share with you the details of an incident that took place on Dartmouth’s campus last night and early this morning. 

First, let me be clear that Dartmouth deeply values and always defends the right of free speech, including the right to protest and demonstrate, in accordance with our established policies. These policies have been developed to protect the rights of all members of our community to express their views while also protecting our academic mission and the safety of everyone on campus.

As some of you may know, since Oct. 19, a small group of students (ranging from two to six) have been peacefully demonstrating on the lawn in front of Parkhurst Hall. Staff from a number of departments, including Student Affairs and the Tucker Center, have been working with the students daily to offer support.

Yesterday, following a permitted and scheduled climate march on campus, a group of about 15 students put up a tent in front of Parkhurst, despite being informed that this was in clear violation of campus policies. The situation changed when two students entered the tent and threatened in writing to “escalate and take further action,” including “physical action,” if their demands were not met. College leadership spent more than six hours working with students to de-escalate the situation and find common ground. We then asked Hanover police for assistance. 

The single most important responsibility that Dartmouth has is to keep the members of our community safe. The threat of “physical action,” which our campus security must consider to be a threat of violence, meant the situation had to be brought to resolution. Dartmouth policy stipulates that students must not engage in behavior that threatens the safety, security, or functioning of the institution, the safety and security of its members, or of others. Physical threats are anathema to free speech and our institutional values. 

It is important that the entire Dartmouth community understand that two things are true: first, freedom of expression, including the right to demonstrate peacefully about important issues, is critically important. Our campus must be a place where all members of our community feel comfortable expressing their views, even when others disagree. However, the second truth is that the physical safety of our students, faculty, staff, and all those who call our campus home cannot be endangered. When that happens, we must take action.

I want a robust dialogue on campus about all issues. But I, and Dartmouth, need your help to enable that in a peaceful and thoughtful way. I and all Dartmouth leaders look forward to continuing to work with student groups to offer support and create space for conversation and peaceful protest.


Sian Leah Beilock