Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Dartmouth is Dean Country

Well, well, things have certainly changed since my time if the students at Dartmouth can tilt so heavily towards Howard Dean.

Jan. 17 - Dartmouth is Dean country. The former Vermont governor won over the college's hemp-necklace-wearing-bootleg-tape-trading set long ago. But now, even the students salivating for Wall Street internships are stumping for the good doctor. HOWARD DEAN FOR AMERICA signs are affixed to dorm windows. As the Democrats prepare to descend on the small New Hampshire town of Hanover for a Jan. 25 debate, backpacks on campus and off are festooned with buttons that read THE DOCTOR IS IN.

This might surprise some outsiders who think of Dartmouth as a conservative school. But the triumph of liberal sentiment in this election season isn't just anecdotal—there is mathematical evidence, too. The Dartmouth, the college's student newspaper, paired a story headlined ADMISSIONS OFFICE CONFRONTS CONSERVATIVE STEREOTYPE with a student-conducted poll reporting that only 22 percent of the Dartmouth community approves of the job being done by President George W. Bush—this while Bush's national approval rating stood solidly near 60 percent. And Dean's popularity isn't merely youthful idealism: Just 3 percent of Dartmouth professors back Bush.

Though it was never as quite as right-wing a school as some made it out to be, Dartmouth used to be the one place in the Ivy League where one could say "I am a conservative" without feeling the least bit of embarrasment. President James Wright has had to have done a real job with the admissions process to get a student body that's so heavily left-leaning.