Dartmouth Native Vigilantes?

February 24, 2010 — 1 Comment
(image via ivygateblog.com)
Last night several of these anonymous signs were posted around the campus of Dartmouth College on the lawns of greek organizations and in front of administration buildings. The text on the sign above, posted at the Psi Upsilon house, reads:

Dear Brothers of Psi U,

You have been charged with representing your brotherhood to Dartmouth as racist and insensitive. Your use of the Dartmouth Indian, which is a caricature of racist stereotypes, as well as the objectification of women on your other shirt send a message to campus that you as an organization are actively disrespecting the feelings of your peers. We are holding you accountable for your actions.

It is time you start doing the same. 

I’ll admit that I’m not well versed in the intimate details of the ongoing issues surrounding the Indian mascot at Dartmouth, but I know that it has been a nearly constant struggle for Native students on campus fighting against generations of alumni who support and continue to use the mascot image. In addition to the mascot issues, there have been a series of serious incidents through the years directly targeting or affecting the Native community. Inside Higher Ed published an article in 2006 about some of the incidents, and can be found here.  I can only imagine, given the statement above, that the brothers of Psi U produced some sort of shirt using the mascot.

The Ivygate blog seems to think that these vigilantes are “anti-greek”, but I think it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case, and that there are bigger issues at play here. In addition to the sign above, they also covered the porch of the house with ladies underwear and the words “this won’t just go away”. While the blog speculates this is a reference to sexual harassment, commenter “vigilante” sets the record straight:

The panties are not anti-sexual-assault or even feminist (god forbid), but rather refer to a Psi U’s response to concerns about the Dartmouth Indian tshirts about people getting their “panties in a twist” and saying the situation will just “go away” if they don’t address it.

The people behind the signs aren’t anti-Greek by any means, just looking to revive dialogue about some recent actions by various organizations that come across as racist/sexist/generally insensitive. These things are consistently dismissed and swept under the rug, so the signs sought to give voice to those who were affected, offended by, and/or silenced by such actions. Accountability and respect of others in the community are the main goals, but at the very least we hope people will start actually talking about these issues rather than blowing them off as usual.

I think this is definitely a voice that needs to be heard, and that the Dartmouth administration’s track record of not taking action on issues affecting the Native community and communities of color in general is inexcusable. I hope that these “vigilantes” use this as momentum to keep the movement going and make their voices heard.

I know I’ve got a few readers from up that way, if anyone wants to give me more information, or wants to write a post about the issues facing Native students on campus, especially surrounding the continued use of the mascot, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I am perfectly happy to keep you anonymous. nativeappropriations@gmail.com.

Dartmouth Apologizes for Indian Incidents–Inside Higher Ed (2006): http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/27/dartmouth

Anonymous Vigilantes Attack Dartmouth Frats with Manifestos, Women’s Underwear–Ivygate Blog: http://www.ivygateblog.com/2010/02/breaking-anonymous-vigilante-attacks-dartmouth-frats-with-manifestos-womens-underwear/ 

(Thanks Scott!)

Adrienne K.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16558473147204256350 Raval911

    Ahhhh this is a terrific blog I’m so glad I found it!! we organized a lot around cultural appropriation in college and the shit touched a nerve something fierce…thanks for putting this together :)