October 16, 2020
Dear Students and Colleagues,
In Tuck Launch with the T’22s, and again earlier this week with the T’21s, Ella Bell and I led a session on race and diversity. Ella brought her inspiring research, teaching, and outreach expertise on these vital topics. I brought a different set of experiences, as a white American male of privilege. Most of all, students brought their authentic selves – their personal and professional experiences and aspirations – to create what I feel was meaningful reflections, discussions, and learning.
Part of what sparked these sessions were the ground rules we asked everyone to aspire to follow. I think these ground rules may help our Tuck community engage with many of the opportunities and challenges of our world. Here they are (slightly edited).
Ground Rule #1: You are where you are. For some people, diversity has been central to their life. For others, privilege has sheltered them from a great deal. Each of us is where we are, in terms of what we have lived.
Ground Rule #2: Everyone teaches and learns. Teaching and learning is the heart of Tuck. No one has all the answers, and no one has nothing to contribute. On race and racism, it is not just Black people who should share and sense-make. Everyone has a voice to give on this topic.
Ground Rule #3: No judgment—there are no right or wrong answers. When we are investing together to learn together about race and diversity, we support where each person is without evaluating or judging.
Ground Rule #4: Try to listen more than you talk. My wife’s grandfather used to say, “we have been given two ears but only one mouth for a reason.” There is so much to learn by listening.
Ground Rule #5: Bring empathy and grace. Work hard to understand different lived experiences, and allow people to make mistakes as they work to learn.
Students really embraced these ground rules, enriching their learning in those sessions. I think all of us at Tuck can benefit from keeping these aspirations in mind as we engage with today’s world. Let me offer three examples.
First is all the work we do in our curricular and co-curricular learning. Yesterday was the kick-off class for my course, Leadership in the Global Economy. Topics we will be tackling include what to do about global warming and climate change, whether the U.S. government should pay reparations to Black Americans, and how to reduce inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity. I am confident that LGE, as will all our courses, will be richer the more we listen closely to what every one of us has to teach.
Second, we are facing an environment of escalating COVID cases: in the Upper Valley, in the United States, and in many parts of the world. In the time ahead, we will best maintain our trust-based learning community if we remember our five guiding principles for this unprecedented time – in particular, the principle that we recognize the diverse needs and concerns of all our community members. As COVID cases escalate, the needs and concerns of those around us may be shifting. Let’s aim to honor these shifts, without judgment.
Third, eighteen days from now is Election Day in America. Diversity at Tuck has always included diversity of political ideas and affiliations. We are not all going to vote for the same candidates. Many of us, regardless of our preferred candidates, worry about the foreboding divisiveness of this election. What a profound opportunity we all have to practice our empathy and grace. If America is to somehow build past today’s partisanship, we need to start with more effort to understand our political differences.
I am so proud of how diligently I see so many of our students listening, not judging, and empathizing. Here is to more of that from all of us. Thanks very much. Enjoy your weekend.
Dartmouth has formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance, and communicate with our community.