’The Dartmouth Review pleads innocent’

[Posted 3:08 PM by James Panero]

The New Criterion’s Stefan Beck and I have been hard at work on a project that we are now happy to announce:

In April 2006, ISI Books will publish our edited collection of the best writing from twenty five years of The Dartmouth Review. For the first time in book form, the travails of America’s first undergraduate, independent conservative newspaper will be told by the undergraduate writers who took an illiberal college head on. William F. Buckley, Jr. (who will be celebrating a great milestone tonight) has most generously offered the use of his many syndicated columns on the Review for the publication. The book’s working title is "The Dartmouth Review Pleads Innocent: Twenty Five Years of Being Threatened, Impugned, Vandalized, Sued, Suspended, and Bitten at the Ivy League’s Most Controversial Conservative Newspaper." The book records an important recent chapter in the history of the American conservative movement, written by the generation of conservative writers who lived it.

But why wait until next April? For the next few months, we will be posting occasional updates on the book’s progress and sample materials we are preparing for publication.

The Review started as a backdoor channel between conservative students and conservative alumni. The very first issue of the paper had a hand in the election of John Steele, Dartmouth’s first renegade trustee (renegade trustees: ring a bell?). In the eyes of the administration, this channel needed to be cut.

The photograph above, from The Dartmouth Review archives, features one of the many cases where Dartmouth college administrators tried to twist the screws on the Review’s student editors. The kids never gave in, and here is the case of Review founder--and dissident editor of the "Daily D"--Greg Fossedal, defending himself against unnamed charges in a college disciplinary hearing. To Fossedal’s left is the Review lawyer, and next to him (smoking the pipe) Dartmouth professor of English Jeffrey Hart. Seated in the viewing area: a young Dinesh D’Souza, reporting on the trial for the Review. Ben Hart, another founder of the Review (and Jeffrey Hart’s son), wrote his own report in the March 9, 1981 edition of the paper, called "Michael Green and impartiality." Here is that piece:

Greg Fossedal’s CCSC [College Committee on Standards and Conduct] hearing reached a critical turning point less than half an hour into the proceedings when he personally challenged the objectivity of Committee chairman Michael Green. Anyone who was at the hearing--and those who weren’t should have been--knew that it was all downhill from there.

Acting in concert with his attorney, Bill Clauson, Fossedal had challenged several Committee members. Predictably, each professed objectivity; then the rest of the challenged members left the room for a secret vote and surprise, surprise, they found that their friend could, after all, sit in judgment on Fossedal.

Still, an expectant hush came across the room when Fossedal called the Committee chairman to task. Would Green really have the nerve, as had several close friends of John Hanson, to assert his own objectivity? And if he did, would the Committee back him up?

Green’s relationship with Fossedal began February 25, 1979--ironically, exactly two years before Fossedal’s roasting at the hands of Green’s Committee, and, again ironically, over an incident that would lead the CCSC to vote to expel two student’s: the Indian skater protest [Ed: In one of the first such cases nationally, The Dartmouth administration banned the Dartmouth Indian mascot in the early 1970s].

On the Sunday afternoon that Shaun Teevens skated into Dartmouth history, Fossedal was working as sports editor for the Daily Dartmouth.

"I was laying out my page and helping with the news editing," Fossedal remembers. "Then in came one of my photographers who said he had a great picture of the Indian skaters. I told Judy Reardon, the layout editor, it should run front page. She didn’t want to at first, but I convinced her. We even put in the Indian cheer as quote of the day.

"It was a simple decision. News is news." But not so to the emotionally charged Native American contingent at Dartmouth. Already angry over the mere appearance of the skaters, Native Americans at Dartmouth (NAD) penned a letter to the Daily D blasting the paper’s editorial judgment in printing the picture and the story. The letter was signed by, among others, Michael Green:

"That Dartmouth students choose to present themselves as racist caricatures is unfortunate; that the College newspaper elects to publicize this example of crass insensitivity without critical judgment is appalling... Either The Dartmouth should make a public explanation and apology for selecting this picture for the front page (and the "Indian cheer" for the quote of the day), or cease to pretend that it is a publication for all segments of the Dartmouth population."

The letter went on to call the paper’s editors guilty of "blatant racism" and lashed out at its "anti-feminist and anti-Semitic cartoons." . . .

The formation of The Dartmouth Review sparked a renewal of the acrimony in the fall of 1980. In its first issue, The Review ran a cover collage of fifty years of Dartmouth football programs; the dominant motif was Indian. Green and other Native American leaders complained to the offices of Dean Ralph Manuel and John Hanson, who politely explained that there was nothing the college could do if The Review chose to revive the Dartmouth Indian.

At this point, things began to get nasty. On October 10, Fossedal wrote an editorial blasting the very existence of NAD as constituting "institutional racism." The editorial called for an end to affirmative action programs and urged the elimination of minority study departments and courses. Green is chairman of the Native American Studies department and depends for his livelihood on its existence. Green was not happy with the editorial.

The next week, Fossedal’s editorial attacked Green personally for playing a leading role in the persecution of a student before the CCSC on charges of illegal possession of alcohol.

"I’ll never forget walking into that meeting," Fossedal says. "There were at least fifty people packed into that little room in Blunt where they usually meet. Green kept giving me nasty glances and finally noticed I was taking notes. The exchange went something like this:

"GREEN: May I ask you to identify yourself.

"ME: My name is Greg Fossedal. I’m a reporter for The Dartmouth Review.

"GREEN: You’re aware that you may not quote Committee members outside of this hearing.

"ME: No, I’m not aware of that. I thought this was a public hearing. That means that...

"ANNE CRAIG: When we wrote you last spring at The D we told you you could send a reporter but...

"ME: Look, this is a public hearing. That means everything is for the record. The choice of whether or not a hearing is public is to protect the defendant, not you. A public hearing means, by definition, that everything is for the record. And I’m going to quote what you say. If you want to amend your laws and not allow public hearings, that’s fine, but I can report what I want as long as this is open.

"GREEN: (still scowling) Well, we’ll have to check the record on that.

"ME: Go ahead. You sent me a letter when I was at The Dartmouth last year. You can’t change the rules for a public hearing."

"GREEN: We operate under our own rules."

If Green was scowling at the meeting, he must have been steaming after reading Fossedal’s editorial on Oct. 17. The article quotes Green as saying, "We operate under our own rules," and concludes:

"Green’s explanation of the CCSC’s operating procedures is both accurate and enlightening. That his committee on student conduct operates with wide discretion, little restraint, and a great deal of vindictiveness is taken as a given on campus. That it has terrorized thousands of students and bullied those who come before it is fact."

Noting an editorial error under which his first name was incorrectly reported as Ronald, Green wrote:

"My name is Michael Green, not Ronald Green. The balance of your remarks on the CCSC in the Review, like your rendition of my name, is no more than half true." Green’s letter appeared in The Dartmouth Review’s Oct. 24 edition. Fossedal issued a characteristic response: "Mr. Green--Your letter is both pompous and stupid... The name of this publication is The Dartmouth Review, not The Review." The ribbing between Fossedal and Green’s Committee continued right into the new year, culminating in The Dartmouth Review’s CCSC issue several days before Fossedal’s public trial. In a deep-cover investigative story by Fossedal and another Review staff member. Green’s leadership of the CCSC was outlined in stark terms. One CCSC member was quoted in the article as saying Green was out to "get Teevens’s ass" in a case that went before the CCSC in the fall of 1980. Another unabashedly referred to Green as a "racist." The day before the CCSC story appeared, Fossedal spoke before the committee in defense of Anthony Desir, another Review editor. Fossedal wore an Indian tie. "I remember hearing that Green once bragged to the committee that he had been out tearing down Indian posters that were popping up on campus. I wanted to see what he would do with a necktie," Fossedal explained. Other Review staff members threatened with trips before the Committee include myself and Steve Kelley, who dressed up as Indians at a pair of fall home football games, and Keeney Jones, who along with Fossedal hired a plane to fly above fans at the Columbia game, tugging a banner that read "The Review says Go Indians!" The move to punish Kelley, myself, and Jones was apparently squashed in the office of Ralph Manuel. And so we waited quietly. Green told the Committee he could sit in impartial judgment on Fossedal. The CCSC went into the next room and voted: "We have decided not to sustain your challenge to professor Green."

Fossedal sighed.