The Department of English and Creative Writing Responds to the May 1, 2024 Events and Arrests on Campus

We the faculty and staff of the Dartmouth College Department of English and Creative Writing write to condemn the decision-making process that led to the presence of multiple militarized police units on our campus. One of these units, the New Hampshire Special Weapon and Tactics, defines itself as a highly-trained squad,

with expertise in weaponry and specialized tactics such as rappelling and building assaults. The purpose of the SWAT Unit is to be able to respond to high-risk incidents such as barricaded suspects, hostage takers, high-risk warrant service, active shooter situations and executive (VIP) security, as well as other incidents in which the lives and safety of the public are in extreme danger.

As in-person observers of the protest—representing a range of political views within the department—and as faculty who've consulted with students representing a range of political views, we affirm that the following played no role in the protest:

—barricaded suspects,

—hostage takers,

—standing warrants,

—active shooters,

—executive (VIP) security.

The decision to call in law enforcement, leading to the presence of militarized police, made this a case of "SWATting," the practice of summoning militarized police to a non-threatening situation to increase the risk of violence​. This decision endangered the safety of every member of the Dartmouth community.

The protest in question obstructed nothing and threatened no violence. Before this administration took power, there was no precedent in Dartmouth history for responding with law enforcement to language that is not explicitly threatening. There is no precedent in Dartmouth history for responding to any protest with militarized police units created to respond to life-or-death situations.

Therefore, we call for the College to formally revise its dissent policies, in consultation with the faculty, so that police and militarized police will never again be used in response to peaceful protest.

In solidarity with students and with the many departments and programs across our campus that have issued statements denouncing the administration's actions, we reiterate and affirm the demands articulated by our colleagues in the Department of History and African and African American Studies that the Dartmouth administration

  • 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,
  • announce publicly that you are asking prosecutors to dismiss all criminal charges against the faculty, students, and staff who were arrested on May 1—a request that in no way infringes on prosecutorial discretion—and charges against the two students arrested in the fall, Roan V. Wade and Kevin Engle, should also be dropped immediately,
  • 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 and restore faith in fair process and commitment to free speech on campus.


This statement was agreed upon by a clear majority of 26 yes votes, with 1 no vote, 1 abstain vote, and 9 uncast ballots.