Dartmouth student accused of ‘violence’ for op-ed on diversity

Feb 9, 2018 by

A Dartmouth College student’s op-ed alleging gender bias on a trip-planning committee has resulted in an outpouring of criticism from liberal classmates.

Within a day of its posting, the opinion piece titled “You’re Not Tripping” in The Dartmouth had ignited a campus-wide uproar. In this op-ed, Ryan Spector ‘19 detailed his disappointment with 2018 First-Year Trips directorate selection process. Each year, approximately 19 upperclassmen applicants are selected for the directorate in order to help facilitate Trips, Dartmouth’s annual summer excursions for incoming freshmen.

“Using language like ‘violence,’ ‘attack,’ and “’safety’ conflates Spector’s bitter tone and message with real assault—implying that students’ literal safety is at risk.”   

This year, out of 44 total applicants, 15 women were chosen, along with four men. After being rejected from the directorate himself, Spector accused the directors in charge of the selection process of having an “obsession with diversity” that “verges on the inane,” in light of its extremely female-heavy composition.

The director of Trips, Lucia Pierson ‘18, along with Dalia Rodriguez-Caspeta ‘18, the assistant director, emphasized in their original announcement that the 2018 Trips directorate, which is 80 percent female, was selected “purely based on merit.” Spector railed against this notion, calling it “nothing but an exercise in mental gymnastics,” alleging that their decision to only accept four male students indicated an “extreme application of a diversity policy” and claiming that the members of the new directorate would not adequately represent the Dartmouth student body.

Immediately after the article was posted, the backlash began in the comments section. One student called the op-ed a “whiny post-rejection [expression] of frustration,” while others offered up faux sympathy for him as a “white cis male” from Illinois. Some of the comments respectfully challenged his arguments, but most of them accused him of sexist and even racist undertones, emphasizing his status as a privileged white male.

One day after the op-ed was posted, Link Up, a women’s student group, sent out a campus-wide email with the heading, “Statement in Solidarity.”

The email defended Pierson and Rodriguez-Caspeta, claiming that Spector’s article “attacks marginalized identities,” and also celebrated the high percentage of female students in the new directorate as “correcting [for] years of underrepresentation and marginalization.”

Throughout the weekend and into the next week, more than 30 campus organizations followed Link Up’s lead and sent out their own letters of “solidarity” with the Trips director and assistant director, further denouncing Spector’s op-ed as an “attack” on women and women of color. The wash of emails came from a wide range of student groups, including the Committee on Sexual Assault, several a capella groups, senior societies, sororities, one fraternity, and a variety of other minority and women’s groups.

The emails varied in the severity of their accusations, but the allegations against Spector as a violent perpetrator of racism and sexism were common throughout. In one email, the senior society by the name of Phoenix called Spector’s article “blatantly based in patriarchal and white supremacist narratives,” labeling it an “attack” on marginalized people.

The Asian American Students Association stated in their email that the article “invisibilizes people of color, women and trans folk, [and] queer women of color,” and mocked the op-ed as an example of “white male tears.”

Source: Dartmouth student accused of ‘violence’ for op-ed on diversity

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