Dartmouth’s president censured by faculty over protest actions

Sian Leah Beilock, president of Dartmouth College, at the school in Hanover, N.H., Feb. 3, 2024. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College voted on Monday, May 20, 2024, to censure Beilock, over her decision to summon the police to remove a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, calling her action harmful to the community and disruptive to the university’s educational mission. (Caleb Kenna /The New York Times)

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

Sian Leah Beilock, president of Dartmouth College, at the school in Hanover, N.H., Feb. 3, 2024. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College voted on Monday, May 20, 2024, to censure Beilock, over her decision to summon the police to remove a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, calling her action harmful to the community and disruptive to the university’s educational mission. (Caleb Kenna /The New York Times)

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College voted Monday to censure university President Sian Leah Beilock over her decision to summon the police to remove a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, calling her action harmful to the community and disruptive to the university’s educational mission.

The censure motion was adopted by a vote of 183-163, according to Justin Anderson, a spokesperson for Dartmouth. The close vote illustrated the division on campus over Beilock’s decision on May 1, just hours after the encampment had been erected on the college green. At the meeting Monday, Beilock defended the move, saying that she believed there was a reasonable and credible threat of violence.

Eighty-nine people were arrested as police moved in, including two faculty members. Annelise Orleck, a labor historian, was knocked to the ground as she tried to grab her phone from a police officer.

Orleck, who once served as head of Jewish studies at Dartmouth, said Monday that she was gratified at the vote. “I’m hoping that she and perhaps anyone who follows her and maybe presidents on other campuses hesitate for a second before they bring down violence on peaceful student protesters.”

Monday’s vote was believed to be the first censure vote against a president of Dartmouth in its 255-year history. In a similar move last week, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University passed a vote of no confidence in its president, Minouche Shafik, by a wider margin, over her handling of pro-Palestinian protesters there. A vote of no confidence is regarded as more serious than a censure vote.

Beilock, who joined Dartmouth last June, is a cognitive scientist who previously served as the president of Barnard College.

In a statement, Dartmouth pointed out that more than 200 faculty members had signed a petition supporting Beilock, adding that “results of the vote reflects the deeply divided feelings across the nation and around the world about the Israel-Hamas war.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.