Sociology Department Faculty Response to Events of May 1st, 2024

We, in the Sociology department, join our colleagues in History, Art History, AAAS, NAIS, LALACS, Spanish & Portuguese, English, Religion, and WGSS departments at Dartmouth College, in denouncing the use of militarized police force against those who gathered on May 1, 2024 for peaceful demonstration. We also join fellow sociologists and social scientists across the country in registering our support for academic freedom, free speech, and the right for students, staff, and faculty to participate in peaceful protests.  

As sociologists, we wish to underscore that social movements have been pivotal in the implementation of many of the democratic rights and freedoms we celebrate today. Student protests have been especially important in drawing attention to the global interlinking of injustices, and importantly, in the fight for a more just and equitable world.

As researchers and educators holding a diversity of viewpoints, we write in support of our students' right to peaceful protest without fear of police brutality. Indeed, as research across a number of our fields of expertise demonstrates, inviting police onto college campuses is not only disruptive to educational outcomes, student health, mental health, and well-being, but also afflicts greater violence and harm onto students from minority or marginalized racial, ethnic, gender, citizenship, and class backgrounds. In the two weeks since President Beilock called police to the green, we have witnessed negative impacts to student wellbeing, learning, and ability to engage in productive dialogue. While we recognize that this may have been a difficult decision to make, it was a poor one. We know that it can be difficult to balance students' rights to free speech while simultaneously creating spaces where all students feel welcome. But we also know that bringing militarized police forces to campus only makes matters worse.

The President's response to the protest has left our community fractured, and has shattered our students' trust and safety on campus. Following our colleagues in other departments and programs, we call on President Beilock and the administration:

  • To acknowledge publicly that the deployment of state police and armored vehicles was an excessive and punitive response to peaceful protests, which will not be repeated.
  • To announce publicly that you are asking prosecutors to dismiss all charges against the a) faculty, students, and staff who were arrested on May 1, 2024 and b) the two students arrested on October 30, 2023. This request in no way infringes on prosecutorial discretion.
  • To make it officially and publicly known that academic freedom includes the right to peacefully express support for Palestinian rights. The college should permit nonviolent protest outdoors and restore faith in fair process and commitment to free speech on campus.