Dartmouth Apologizes for Indian Incidents

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Dartmouth College’s president and athletics director issued pre-Thanksgiving apologies for a series of incidents that have angered American Indian students and professors.

Following a meeting with Native American leaders, Dartmouth President James Wright sent a letter to the campus expressing concern about “racist and insensitive” behavior that Indian students have experienced. “I apologize on behalf of the college,” he wrote.

Wright acknowledged that much of the behavior that has angered American Indians — such as the distribution of clothing with Indian symbolism — is not illegal and could not be punished by the college. But he called for more people — himself included — to speak out against offensive comments.

“Freedom of expression is a core value of this institution,” he wrote. “The college is not going to start a selective dress code and we do not have a speech code. Free speech includes the right to say and to do foolish and mean-spirited things. We have seen several examples of this exercise this fall. But free speech is not a right exclusively maintained for the use of the mean and the foolish — it is not unless we allow it to be, and then the free part has been minimized.”

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