From quotas to Jewish center, Dartmouth college has changed

NEW YORK — At Dartmouth College, the times they have a-changed.

Four Jews — including three men wearing kippot and tallitot — stood on the dais at a dedication ceremony at Dartmouth over the weekend for a new $4 million Roth Center for Jewish Life.

And one of them, Dartmouth President James Freedman, confronted the anti-Semitic past of the Hanover, N.H., institution.

He read from correspondences between university officials and alumni that were replete with derogatory remarks toward Jews and hints of the quotas that prevailed in the Ivy League and elsewhere.

The documents read by Freedman included a June 1934 exchange of letters between an alumnus and Dartmouth's director of admissions, the New York Times reported last week.

The alumnus, Ford Whelden of Detroit, complained that "the campus seems more Jewish each time I arrive in Hanover. And unfortunately many of them [on quick judgment] seem to be of the `kike' type."

The director of admissions at the time, Robert Strong, replied, "I am glad to have your comments on the Jewish problem, and I shall appreciate your help along this line in the future. If we go beyond the 5 percent or 6 percent in the Class of 1938, I will be grieved beyond words."

Jews make up approximately 10 percent of the roughly 4,800 students at Dartmouth today.

Freedman — who perhaps best reflects the shift in Dartmouth's attitude toward Jews — said in an interview with the Times, "No Jewish students or faculty need fear that they will be discriminated against.

"Jewish students have a proud place at Dartmouth today."

The Roth Center for Jewish Life will provide space for a wide range of Jewish activities on campus, ranging from religious services and artists and social events to an annual Holocaust commemoration.