~ anna winham
We Interrupted a Variety Show and are Receiving Death Threats
It’s OK to Oppress Queers and Women and Non-White People but it’s not OK to Object to that Publicly
If You Don’t Love Dartmouth, Why Haven’t You Transferred
I. “This isn’t dialogue!”
II. “You’re ruining my life; I’ve been practicing for weeks!”
III. “You can’t stand against violence.’”
IV. “Try going to any other college and you’ll find it’s just as bad.”
This article will be published in installments for the sake of getting information into the common domain as soon as possible. Facts presented in the article have been corroborated by the students who have taken part in various aspects of the #Realtalk movement.
I. “This isn’t dialogue!” Published: 4/24/13
1 in 4 women in college will be sexually assaulted.
Between 2008 & 2010, Dartmouth averaged 15 reports of sexual assault among 6,000 students.
95% of sexual assaults on college campuses are not reported.
NOVEMBER 2011: homophobic, sexist graffiti on Gender-Neutral Floor.
MAY 5, 2012: homophobic verbal attack on LGBT students.
MAY 11, 2012: racist verbal attack on student.
NOVEMBER 2012: racial slur on Obama poster, first-year dorm.
JANUARY 2013: racist verbal attack on students, ’53 Commons.
JANUARY 2013: racist graffiti on student’s whiteboard, first-year dorm.
JANUARY 2013: Nikkita McPherson gives Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Keynote Address Introductory Speech.
JANUARY 24, 2013: Jennifer McGrew’s article about privilege and oppression at Dartmouth is published in The Dartmouth. Comments describe her “self-victimization” and “whining.”
MARCH 29, 2013: Dickey Centre blitz accuses women and minority students of keeping silent, of allowing self-doubt to hold them back, of not jumping in, of weakening public debate through their absence, and of not living up to their responsibility to contribute. This blitz ignores structures of oppression that have led to the exclusion of women and minorities from certain spaces of discourse as well as excludes all of the dialogue in which these students do participate on a daily basis.
MARCH 2013: Group of concerned students forms to discuss outrage caused by Dickey Centre blitz and ongoing patterns of bias and oppression. Group begins to plan dialogue events for spring term, including events for Dimensions Weekend. Group is made up of diverse individuals from many communities; actions are undertaken by individuals and may or may not be supported by other individuals within the group.
APRIL 2013: #Realtalk idea emerges; hopes to provide potential future students with dialogue and information on their individual experiences at Dartmouth, especially as these experiences relate to what it is like for students of colour, LGBTQ students, students without class privilege, and women to attend Dartmouth.
APRIL 17, 2013, Wednesday: anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-classist posters advertising #Realtalk spoken word and discussion event ripped down from public areas while other posters remain.
APRIL 18, 2013, Thursday: anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-classist chalk reported as “bias incident” and erased by 8am.
APRIL 18, 2013, Thursday: anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-classist posters advertising #Realtalk spoken word and discussion event ripped down from public areas while other posters remain.
APRIL 18, 2013: students organising #Realtalk meet to discuss concerns about censorship and silencing of their voices. Idea of participating in the Dimensions Show arises, and the group debates for almost four hours about the possible consequences, both positive and negative. Some members decide not to participate.
APRIL 19, 2013, Friday: anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-classist posters advertising #Realtalk spoken word and discussion event ripped down from public areas while other posters remain.
APRIL 19, 2013, Friday: 9pm #Realtalk event attended by current students but small number of admitted students. Though official, college-sanctioned events promoting dialogue have taken place during the day, these college-endorsed events still promoted, even required, an ultimately positive review of the college, according to one activist.
APRIL 19, 2013, Friday:
Some individuals sneak into the Dimensions Show with fake wristbands and the intention of standing at the back between skits, chanting as though part of the show, and leaving calmly. Some people are recognised and asked to leave, at which point other group members leave with them. Unsure of what to do, the group gathers in Robinson Hall. One student, well-disguised as a ’17, learns that no more ‘17s are being admitted into ’53 Commons due to fire safety regulations. The people at the door have indicated that there is overflow viewing in the library. While the rest of the group is debating a march to the library, one student rushes over to the library to discover that no such collective viewing is happening.
Frustrated with the continued silencing of these voices and the stifling of this dialogue, the students decide to protest outside ’53 Commons. In the words of one protestor who wishes to remain anonymous, “we’re walking up; it’s pouring rain; we’re stepping these steps to the big colonial door and there’s the director of admissions standing in a suit with his arms blocking the door, two frat bros in fucking tank tops standing there, looking down their arms with their arms crossed, keeping us out of our space, physically blocking us from delivering our message like they have been all weekend… We said, please, we have a message, we have tried to speak in other ways, this is our cafeteria, we have something to say, excuse us. We did not touch them.”
Though protestors remain nonviolent, college employees do not. Another protestor, also wishing to remain anonymous, details that at this point another protestor “grabbed the door handle,” and the director of admissions “knocked her arm away.” This protestor “managed to get her foot in the door and started squeezing her body through the sliver.” One anonymous activist reports, “she’s in the middle of the door and they’re pushing the door on her body.” Another recalls saying, “stop it, you’re crushing her. Stop it, you have to open the door.”
Eventually a female administrator says “stop, you can’t do that to a student,” and the director of admissions opens the door, in the process tripping over “the leg of the frat guy,” according to an anonymous protestor, who also emphasises that the student who had been stuck in the door is “very physically small.” A different protestor says that this administrator tripped over his own leg, detailing, “people have been saying we assaulted but that’s not true at all.”
The next layer of security includes Tim Duggan, a tall college employee, who stood in a “football stance like ready to tackle,” according to one protestor, thinking this was a joke until when another protestor “walks up, he literally wrestles her… I can’t believe he just leaped on her!” Not having expected physical violence, the students are shocked and intimidated.
The third layer of security includes the participants in the Dimensions Show, some of whom are crying and begging the protestors not to disrupt the show on the basis that it will “ruin their life,” asking “why are you doing this to me?” One student mentions that she was holding a sign saying “I was called a fag in my freshman floor” as well as notes that the performers saw through the glass doors these protestors being subjected to physical violence.
As performers try to chant protestors out, the protestors begin chanting from their script. Performers then attempt to sing over the chants of the protestors, meaning that the original plan of chanting from the back between songs is no longer viable. The protestors are forced to go in front in order to convey their message instead of being silenced yet again. After physical harassment and a forced change of plans, protestors are bewildered and find it difficult to remain calm.
One activists comments, “people keep saying ‘they should have been more organised; they should have been these different things.’ But honestly, the people who were part of that protest are some of the most eloquent, brilliant, well-spoken people I know… ______ is a fucking actor. He is prepared for this, and he is so freaked out that he couldn’t finish… Why would we have been able to be completely calm?”
“Students are screaming at us, ‘This is not a dialogue! You’re doing it wrong! You’re doing it wrong!’” All previous attempts at dialogue had been silenced.
After creating this disturbance of the theatre that is Dartmouth, the protestors decide to walk out, having accomplished all that they think they can given the situation. Dimensions performers, as they walk out, in a monotone begin chanting, “We love Dartmouth.” Protestors trying to draw attention to their own personal experiences of being silenced and oppressed on the basis of race, gender, sex, sexuality, and socioeconomic class find this, “fucking creepy,” or, “”an eerie example of pervasive groupthink.”
After the protest, at least one protestor waits outside ’53 Commons to continue dialogue with ‘17s leaving the show. Most protestors seek out a safe space, an understandable plight given the physical violence to which they were subjected earlier in the night. Protestors gather to discuss possible repercussions from the college, though they have carefully researched and made sure to break no college rules.
A few hours later, the anonymous, hateful comments on BoredatBaker and comments on the article in The Dartmouth, which is edited without note of the changes made throughout the night, begin appearing. Individuals depicted in the picture that appears on The Dartmouth’s website begin receiving death and rape threats. The Dartmouth refuses to remove the picture despite how it endangers the personal safety of Dartmouth students. B@B comments are sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, and classist. Many protestors do not feel safe walking alone or even sleeping.
“How can people say this came out of nowhere? It was so obvious,” a protestor states.
Damn straight, there hasn’t been dialogue. It’s only dialogue if you listen when we speak.