Dartmouth College Oral History Program
Dartmouth Vietnam Project
May 7, 2016
Transcribed by Mim Eisenberg/WordCraft
DELLINGER: So we are recording now. This is Patrick [A.] Dellinger. It’s Saturday, May the 7th, 2016, about 10:30. We’re here in the Rauner Special Collections Library with Professor Marysa Navarro.
NAVARRO: And I’m trying to shake my memory of events long gone, and I’m looking at a list of the people you have interviewed and trying to remember the ones that I don’t see here and should be here. Like, there was a student, a freshman, who I didn’t know, and his last name was Rennels. [Glenn D. Rennels, Class of 1972, DMS 1980] And he was a freshman, and he—he entered Parkhurst [Hall] almost—late at night, very late at night, around midnight or so. And he was there when the—the forces of the—what was it?—the National Guard [of the U.S.] came and entered. And then, as you know, they were taken, they were detained, and then eventually, as you know, they were also—they had to go in front of the committee at Dartmouth College, which had to go and decide their—what they had done and how they were going to be punished, separate from what had happened in the—in society. In our world here, they needed to be tried.
So in any case, he appeared in my office, and—oh, they—they needed to be represented by a lawyer or anybody, or a faculty member. And this—this very young blond boy, very sweet looking, very gentle, came into my office and said—introduced himself and said that he wanted me—he was coming to ask me if I would represent him. And I said, “But I don’t know you. I—you know, I’m meeting you now. What can I say on your behalf? I cannot defend you.”
And he said, “Well, I don’t know—I don’t know any professor whom I would ask to—but since you’re—other people have spoken to me about you, so I come to you.” And he was such a—you know, a gentle soul, it seemed to me. We talked. He explained to me that he had entered very late, and I said, “Why did you go in?” And he said, “Because I thought that it was very immoral of me to be at Dartmouth and not—and, while other people my age were dying in Vietnam. And I thought the war was wrong, and I needed to do something to show that I was against the war and I was supporting those who were fighting there.”
That’s what he said. So I said, “Well, that’s a pretty good explanation,” I said. “And do your parents know that you went in?” He said, “Yes.” And so I said, “All right, I’ll defend you.” So I went in front of the [chuckles]— committee, and I started crying. I got very upset because he was a very nice young boy. He came afterwards. We talked some more. And he was a perfectly moral person, responsible person, gentle person, and I thought there was something very unfair going on at that moment in this country and with that event, and that, you know, I thought that he should be forgiven.
He was not entirely forgiven. He was suspended one term. And then when he—I never saw him again. He was very happy because one term was bearable, and he graduated, and he was going to go to medical school. He came to say goodbye, and I never saw him again.
So I don’t remember his first name. He is in the list of the people of the—of the ones who were arrested, and if you have that list, he should be in your list. But I don’t know his first name. I don’t remember his first name.
NAVARRO: So that’s—he should be here.
NAVARRO: And I wish you could—you could interview him because he’s pretty much of an adult now, and it would be nice.
And there’s another student, another—well, maybe we should get some order in—in what I’m—I should say. But you—I thought you were going to have questions, you see.
DELLINGER: Well, I have questions. [cross-talk; unintelligible; 5:32].
NAVARRO: Well, ask me. Let’s—and then I’ll get me some order here.
DELLINGER: Well, let’s start from the beginning. Where and when were you born?
NAVARRO: That—that far away?
NAVARRO: I was born in Spain. I was born in Pamplona, Navarre, Spain, on October 12th, 1934, and I left Spain when I was two years old because the Spanish Civil War began, and my father, who was then inspector of higher and primary education in Navarre, was well known because he was what is known in the political composition of Spain at that moment, a left Republican. But he was— and the province in which I was born went fascist. That is, one of the generals who made the coup with [Francisco] Franco was the captain general of my province. And therefore he controlled the province immediately, and therefore people who were supporters of the Republic—if they didn’t want to die, if they were well known or they didn’t want to be put in jail—because there were thousands of them to whom this happened, very immediately, then they needed to escape.
My father escaped. Went to France. But he came back the same day into the Republican Zone, which was in the Basque—in what would become, in a few months, the independent Basque nation, Euskadi, did not rebel; this is a document that was voted before the coup. And when the coup happened, then, you know, everything began to disintegrate, but these units—this unit, the Basque Country, which is—of which Navarre is part, but was not included in that entity, then declared that it was a—there would be a government that would take of its defense in connection with the Republic, because Spain became divided into various fronts, et cetera, et cetera.
My mother, my brother, my sister and I were put into jail after my father left, when they realized he was gone. And eventually we were exchanged for fascist prisoners. And so we went to Bilbao [Spain], where my father was at that moment, actually, in Euskadi, which is a big port in the north of Spain. I don’t know how much you know about Spain. Little, probably.
But anyway, so the capital of Euskadi was in Bilbao at that moment. And so—but then the general who had taken over my province organized the assault on Euskadi, with the help of the [aviation? 9:07]—[Benito] Mussolini’s aviation, and also the Junkers that [Adolf] Hitler sent, his first Junkers, to try them out in his agreement with Franco.
So they—and they began to bomb that area, which was the industrial area of Spain, one of the industrial areas. So I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to—no, you wouldn’t. I don’t know if you’ve heard of a painting by [Pablo] Picasso, named Guernica.
DELLINGER: Mm-hm. I have.
NAVARRO: Guernica is—was—I was going to ask you if you had seen it in the Museum of Modern Art, but by the time you were born, it was also gone back to Spain. Guernica is the sort of traditional ancestral capital of the Basques. And it was bombed on a market day, and Picasso made it known to the rest of the world, but then that was only symbolic of the big assault on the—on the Basque province.
And on [in] June ’37 the assault on Bilbao city took place. My father—the president, [José Antonio] Aguirre, decided, and had decided earlier than that, that children should be evacuated, and so children were sent to England, France, Mexico, Denmark, to European countries that took them. There was a last trip of children that left Bilbao a week before it fell to the fascists, and it left in a ship called the Habana, and my sister, who was eight years old, was put on that ship. My brother was mentally retarded so therefore couldn’t go, and I was two years old. I couldn’t go anywhere by myself. So therefore my sister left, and that ship, instead of going to Mexico or Chile, as some children went, or England or France, ended up in the Soviet Union, which could not have been necessarily bad if there hadn’t been a Second World War.
So on the day before Bilbao fell, my mother, my brother and I were evacuated to Santander. My father was gone by then. And he had gone to Santander, sent to France, and he went back to Spain, to Valencia, where the Spanish Republican government was. And he stayed there until the fall of the Republic in ’39, April 1st, ’39, when he crossed the border with a big migration across the Pyrenees and was put in a concentration camp, like all the people who crossed then.
We went to Santander, and we were evacuated to France, and we were sent, my mother, my brother and I, to the Alps, near Lyon [France], a little village where we lived for three years. My mother didn’t speak a word of French. My brother couldn’t speak, and I—I didn’t speak until I was four years old. I was totally silent. And my mother was convinced that I was not mentally retarded because I obeyed and I did things, but I didn’t speak. And then all of a sudden, I started speaking in sentences, like in the Bible.
But I spoke in sentences both in French and Spanish because by then I was going to a French day care, and so I was learning French, and my mother didn’t know that I was learning French, and she was speaking to me in Spanish.
In any case, we stayed there. We were reunited, by the Basque government in exile, with my father. We lived—my father was given—there were lots of people who helped the Spanish refugees and helped the civilians who went— those of us who went into exile in France and in other places, except the United States government, which was not friendly at all, although there was a group of Americans who went to fight for the Spanish Republic.
President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt, whom I admire greatly, was a very bad person with the Spanish Republic. He abandoned us totally, totally. But [in] any case, that book is closed, so—and you have to keep things separate.
So my father was put as a director, together with a colleague of his from Spain, as a director of colony of Spanish children who were, you know, lost, had gone across the border and they were wandering, and then the French government didn’t want them. Nobody wanted them. Nobody knew if they have fathers, mothers, whatever.
So then my parents began to be very—through the [International Committee of] the Red Cross, located my sister, who was in a colony of Spanish Republican children in Russia, or the Soviet Union, and began the paperwork to bring her. And then, of course, the Anschluss [the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on March 12, 1938] took place, and the Second World War took place.
And we were going to go to Mexico. The papers were ready, but my mother did not want to leave until my sister arrived, which means that we were caught in France, with my sister in Russia, with the Germans. We stayed in Biarritz [France], which is in the south—a city near the Spanish border. We lived there during the war. It was first Vichy, and then the Germans overran the border, and we spent the Second World War there.
Right after the war ended, my parents, through the Basque government in exile, got my sister to leave—to be repatriated. They located her, and they, in a matter of two years, which is very, very rapid in a post-war area, when, you know, there are no houses—they’ve been bombed. There’s no postmen. There’s nothing. They located her, and she left the Soviet Union and came in 1948 to France, where we were.
And then from there, things were very difficult for all of us in France, so we went to South America. We went to Uruguay because nobody wanted Spanish refugees, but Uruguay still took some. And my mother had two sisters there, and they managed to get to the president and get travel papers to go to Uruguay, because we didn’t have papers of any kind. We were what they call—what was called in Europe at that time “stateless,” because Franco did not give us papers. We have simply a little paper that the French gave us, saying that we live in such-and-such a place.
In any case, off we went to Uruguay. From Uruguay, I came to the United States to study eventually. And eventually I had begun to study history there, which is the only thing I could do when I was little. There were no books. There was no money to buy books. There were no books. I never saw a bookstore when I was little. But my father had a huge dictionary which he had bought, a Larousse, which is a classic, the best dictionary. And that was my only book. And I think I read that dictionary—I would open it, and I would read and read and read and read. And I didn’t have dolls because there were no dolls, like there was no toothpaste. There were no dolls. There was the Larousse.
And so that’s—and I prefer—I began to detect that I preferred the history—this historical account, with pictures. That’s what I preferred. And I think I was eight or ten years old when I decided I wanted to be a historian. Now, so I continued with that fixation, and I had begun to study history in Uruguay, then I came to the United States, and I went to Columbia [University], and I got my M.A. and my Ph.D. in Latin American history, which was a new field, relatively new field at that moment. There were not too many people. But I studied with a wonderful old man, Frank Tannenbaum.
I got married and had a little girl. Then I got separated or, rather, my husband left me, and there I was, in the United States, with a child, didn’t—not knowing this place. And that was at a particularly bad moment in South America because that’s where the military coups began.
And I had classmates who had been expelled from the educational system. I had people who had—friends who had disappeared, and by then, my father was dead. My mother said, “Don’t come back. Don’t come back because it’s not a place to be right now.”
So I stayed. I stayed, and then I taught in New Jersey first, in Union—in Kean College [now Kean University], which was a small college. I had to drive from New York, which was difficult. And then I got—I applied for a fellowship to go to Brazil. I had worked on Argentina. I applied for a fellowship to go to Brazil, and there was a job at Dartmouth College. And I think that somebody decided up there to help me because there wasn’t a single woman in the faculty. There wasn’t a single woman in a student body. There were women in this place, in the library, and doing secretarial work. But I—when I tell my story of how I came to Dartmouth, is—
Do I go on talking about that? However, this is very long. [Laughs.]
DELLINGER: Keep going.
NAVARRO: I attribute my being at Dartmouth to coincidence and to luck. Very important. I applied—I was in a seminar, graduate seminar at NYU [New York University], where there was a—somebody who taught at Dartmouth, who went there—every Friday was the seminar. It was on [Edmund] Burke. He was an intellectual who first wrote about right-wing thought in Europe, and—and I had worked on right-wing thought in Argentina, so I was interested in that.
So his name was—he’s a person who was intimately involved in your project, Jonathan Mirsky. He was a member—he was in the Chinese program in the history department. He is—he was very much—very involved in the anti-Vietnam [War] movement, outside. He wrote for The New York Review of Books when it began to come out, and all that. And he used to come to the seminar. And that’s when he told me, “You—there’s a job in Latin America at Dartmouth. You ought to apply.” And I said, “You’re crazy. I know that it is an all-male school.” And he said, “No, you ought to apply because, you know, it’s at that moment that—I think it’s going to be good for you because we just lost a very good historian, because we wouldn’t hire his wife, who’s also a historian.”
And that was my friend, Marilyn [B.] Young, who’s a professor at NYU. And she was married to [Ernest P.] “Ernie” Young, who was a member of the faculty here, in the history department. They both had Ph.D.s from Harvard [University] on U.S. history, and China.
So—and he knew them. And he said—and she applied for a job in the history department. She didn’t get it, and she got very angry, and so did Ernie, and so they—there was a job offer at [the University of] Michigan, and they both got a job there, so they left.
So I didn’t know her, but as I always said, she was my angel that protected me. She left, and he said—he told me then that, you know, “I think some people would be ready now, because of the shake-up, to look at a woman.” So there was that.
The person who was leaving, who was teaching Latin American history and who was leaving for the University of Wisconsin, was a classmate of mine at Columbia University, and when my name was dropped in-dropped, mentioned, he said, “I know her. We should look at her.”
Then there was a very wonderful chair of the history department, whose name was [Louis C.] “Lou” Morton. He was the chair of the department then, Louis Morton, who was a military historian, who—he was Jewish, and that’s only important because there were very few Jewish professors at that time at Dartmouth College. And his best friend, or one of his very close friends, was—oh, God, I can’t remember his name right now. Oh, God! Uh! I remember the name of his son but not him.
Well, anyway, he was a political scientist, who had been at Dartmouth and had left Dartmouth in order to go and work for the Ford Foundation. Oh, God. You’ll have to find that; otherwise, I have the name at home, and I—you—and check it. Oh, God, this is ridiculous. Kalman [H.] Silvert! K-a-l-m-a-n Silvert. Okay. Kalman Silvert was in the government department, and he left, but he was a very good friend of Lou Morton, his buddy.
And so when Lou asked Kalman Silvert, “Do you know this gal?” (as they said) and it just so happened that when I was doing my dissertation, which I did on Argentine history, Kal was in Argentina, and I met him in Argentina when I was a graduate student. And he loved—I wrote book—my first book was on right-wing thought in Argentina. And I had problems with my professor at Columbia. He didn’t like my topic. But Kal thought it was a fine topic. And I talked a great deal with him because it was about right-wing nationalism.
So anyway, Lou then got a very positive answer from Kal. So it was Marilyn Young; it was Peter [H.] Smith, my colleague at Columbia, who was leaving; and it was Kalman Silvert, who told them, “You know, yeah, invite her.” I came, I gave a talk, and they gave me the job.
And first of all, what had happened is that I had—since I thought I was not going to get the job, and I was having trouble—I had a little girl—I said, I’m going to go to Brazil and ask for a scholarship, a fellowship at the Research Council to go to Brazil. And I got the scholarship or the fellowship to go to Brazil and the job at Dartmouth. I mean, it was—I got a divorce, and I got the two things that solved my intellectual life and my job situation.
And so after—and Lou Morton said, “Go to Brazil, and when you come back, we’ll keep the job for you, and when you come back, you join Dartmouth.” That was ’68. I came back in ’68, and I came back, and it was—I found—I remember coming back from Brazil at the time when there had been a military coup, and I saw in The New York Times, the front page of The New York Times here—there was a picture of students coming down the stairs at Cornell University. Black students with bandoliers like [Emiliano] Zapata, and, you know, I said, My God—I mean, Latin America again? Because it was like a picture of military takeover or civilians in—fighting in Latin American, and it was the United States. It was—Vietnam was in—absolute front page of everything, but it was—and it was interesting because Vietnam was important in Latin America, where I spent a year, but there were local things that were—you know, like a military coup in Brazil itself, so therefore there was space or—anxiety, if you wish, and concern about the—but I don’t think Vietnam had the centrality that it had here when—the time I spent in Brazil at that—the local news were understandably much more important.
And there was also a lot of things happening with revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries as well, so that’s why it was a shock, in a way to me, much more, not that I didn’t know that there were—and I was worried about it. I was worried about it because I had been worried about Vietnam for a long, long time. My father, who died in ’65, had, as a concern, what was happening in Indochina. And the war in Indochina was a topic in the home, in the house of my parents.
And I remember that when the Vietnamese were holding—were at [the Battle of] Dien Bien Phu, my father would ask—he would come at lunch and would say, “Are they still holding on?” Because it was in a way, for him, I think it was like the same battles that had been fought in the Spanish Civil War many years before, or like the way I grew about the Second World War, in which the room where we lived had windows covered with blue paper so that no light would be seen when the bombs—when the planes came.
My father had a radio, and a map in front of it, and he followed the movements of the Allies in the European theater. Africa, not so much. The Pacific, not so much. But it was Europe, and it was a brown map. Never forget it. And he had—for a while, he had pins. He had put it out, and he had the—when there was—we listened to the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] every night at 10 o’clock, which began with [Ludwig van] Beethoven, bum-bum-bum-bum [The rhythmic first notes of his Fifth Symphony], which was forbidden, and if you were caught, the Nazis took you away.
So—but we listened to the BBC, and his listening was to follow the movements in the brown map. So that’s why it was, to me, very—it was very important because it went to moments that were significant in my life, either because of my family or because I remember them particularly.
DELLINGER: So you saw in a similar was to your father, then.
NAVARRO: Well, at that moment, I thought that the Vietnamese—it was a national movement of independence. I could not understand what the United States was doing—I found that totally insane. And how it had come to that was one of those things that only big powers in the post-World War—the Second World War, when I thought the worst thing that could happen is what happened, the Cold War and everything else, that sort of rigidified position and put a sort of a veil on the reality and transformed that reality, and then in positions that, you know, you couldn’t move, and the rest of the world was—ended up being pawns on one side or the other until, unfortunately, not too long ago.
So, I mean, this is a very broad description, but it was that which I think made me perfectly sympathetic to the Vietnamese, and since I was living in the United States and the United States was doing—was investing so much of its power in that war, and I thought it was wrong of the United States to be fighting on that side.
I understood it couldn’t fight on the other side, but it should not have been doing that besides. All the other politicians were very corrupt, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So in any case, I had it clear.
On the other hand, it also—when things began to be active here, and I found that actually Vietnam sort of hit me right in the face, not only in The New York Times but because there was the issue about ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] on campus. And at first—at the first meeting, faculty meeting that I go—there were two or three women, and it was ROTC, and President [John S.] Dickey [Class of 1929] made me sad because I thought that he was not doing—he had been a very good president- —I didn’t know that, that he had been a very good president. But I thought he was out of touch with the students and with the place that he obviously cared, because everybody cares about Dartmouth, which is insane, but that’s true.
There’s a—you develop an affection that is beyond the pale. And he had been president for many years, I understood shortly after I came and all that, and he—I said, How could he? But then I thought that he did not know. He was out of touch with the student body, and he did not know what to do.
And the students, at the same time, were caught up in a radicalism, a desire, a conviction that the war was wrong and that—and there was a sectorism that was developing in all of them. The rigidity and sort of hardening their position on bringing the war home. And home was the university, where—it was the university. I mean, I know—I was in New York when Columbia was taken over, and I knew some of the students there, so I—I was—I thought that was wrong. I thought it was wrong. But I understood that they had no other way to do what they wanted to do. I wasn’t a student by then.
So anyway, and here it was the same thing. And they were, you know, walking around campus with their knapsack, getting ready to—you know, getting ready to take over one building [chuckles]—there was one in particular, I remember. They would walk around with a knapsack that they would utilize when they would—they would either have incredibly long sessions of discussions or take over the building. They were ready for that.
I had two classes, I think. I ended up having quite a few students in jail that summer. I spent that summer, that first summer in hall because it was—there were things about the black students, and the big leader was in my—I can’t remember his name now, and he would kill me if he—if he knew that—I’m not good at—I don’t remember his name. But he was—he was the one who negotiated the house that they ended up having.
And he was in my class, and I didn’t give him the grade he wanted because he—his work was not good enough [chuckles], although he was very intelligent, and I made him do the paper over again. And he was very angry, very angry at me! But he did. And I gave him the good grade that he deserved because he sat down—and I did not give him the grade because it was him.
In any case, I had him, and then I had five students, I think, who were in jail in—two jails, different jails in—in New Hampshire. And I spent the summer taking—driving my red Volkswagen with my little girl, taking papers and assignments so that they would study because they were—I wanted them not to flunk. And I made them flunk—I—I made them study, and they passed. But they did study. Well, they had nothing else to do in the jail. I did not know New Hampshire at all, but I’m telling you that I know the jails, including one—one of the boys that ended—do you know what is Pilobolus?
DELLINGER: What was that?
NAVARRO: Pilobolus is a wonderful dance group that Dartmouth produced out of a dance class in this period. It’s very famous in Broadway and all that. And you’ll see—if you Google, you’ll find out.
In any case, one of the people—two of the people of Pilobolus, but one was not in my class, but two of them were in jail. And I once went to give work to one of the ones who was in my class. And they were—the two of them were rehearsing. They were in a class, in a dance class from which this group, this dance group emerged and—to incredible fame afterwards.
In any case, they were dancing away in a compound on top of a—of a hill, on a sunny afternoon. It was absolutely glorious. They were, you know, doing their routine and the like, and it’s very physical and very—well, it’s almost like gymnastics but it’s beautiful ballet. In any case, there they were.
And most of them ended up okay. I never saw Jake, I think, Jake Guest. I never saw him in jail. But then I know he went into a commune, and then he was looking for work. And when I moved in the house where I lived for 40 years, he did my floors because he was—his father was a professor in the Tuck [School of Business]—Tuck, I think, yeah.
I need to drink something. I’ve been talking for how long?
DELLINGER: Of course.
NAVARRO: So that’s an answer to where I was born.
DELLINGER: So you mentioned being at Columbia. Were you exposed to any of the antiwar movement there?
NAVARRO: Yes, because I knew people. Actually, one of the—there was Mark [W.] Rudd and Lewis [Cole? 44:03]. Lewis was the son of a friend of mine, so therefore I saw him, although I must say that once it began I stopped seeing them because they were—their lives changed, but—and I saw once Mark Rudd with him, but that’s all.
And I went to look at the campus because I lived on West End Avenue and 82 [sic; 82nd Street in New York City], and so I went, and I—I needed to talk with a professor of mine at Fayerweather Hall [of Columbia University, not to be confused with the building of the same name at Dartmouth College], which was one of the places which was—which was taken over.
The—the whole thing at Columbia, in a way, was much closer to what happened here than the one in the West Coast. I think that the people—God, I wish I could remember the names of the students! It seems to me that—that they were much more in contact with the other people in Boston and here and people at Columbia.
But I had no major contact with them once it began because they were constantly in meetings and with the press and with other students, so they never saw him in his house, either. So once the movement began earnest—in earnest, there was—that was the last I saw of him, to tell you the truth, not to—and nothing to discuss anything of the situation.
DELLINGER: But you were supportive of it, though?
NAVARRO: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I—the point—the point that—I was supportive—I understood. I saw that the idea that you needed to do things in the United States to weaken the commitment to what was going on at the level of the government in Vietnam was important. The issue is that there’s no control of that, that there were all sorts of people who were in it for different reasons and whose ideas of what ought to be done varied enormously. I wasn’t in agreement—like, you know, putting—using violent methods like they did in some—in what—what university in the Midwest, where they did—they had an agreement—wait a second—with a—oh, the military complex, what they used to call the military complex and had agreements with the military, and—and they put—they put bombs in the lands. There was an instance of that. I thought that was atrocious because it was too close to war, and I—maybe I was—I was—I felt that the war ought to be symbolic, if you want. I was not ready—having gone through two wars, I was not ready to have another one in the United States and seeing what was happening with violence in Latin America as well.
So it always put me in a very awkward place to the students, the most radical students, because I kept sort of calming them down when we talked, and they thought I was really a bad person. Also because I had a husband who—with whom I had absolutely no contact, who was very much in—a former husband—who was very much in their position. But I had nothing to do with him.
But, for the while, I carried his name, until I got a divorce and came back to my maiden name. So therefore I somehow—I needed—no, I never was and never would be, and I never became. But that does not mean that people saw me or had expectations about me that could not be realized because that’s not who I am.
DELLINGER: So you come to Dartmouth in 1968, and you mentioned that you were the only woman faculty member at that time?
NAVARRO: Yeah. Well, no, there was another one in mathematics by the time—by the time I come from Brazil, by the time I get the appointment and I really come, there was a woman who had been hired, but I don’t know if she was hired in the ranks. And who was very much close to the students, and together with somebody else in mathematics, a male professor. There were two of them. Dona [Anschel Strauss] was her name.
NAVARRO: And his name, I don’t remember. Nobody has told you this?
DELLINGER: Well, we’re working through people to interview. I mean, we have a long list of—
DELLINGER: —people we need to get to, yeah.
NAVARRO: Okay, because [Gene R.] Garthwaite must have remembered her also.
NAVARRO: And actually, she was the only faculty member that was—because what’s his name? Mirsky was not—didn’t go in front of the faculty, but Dona did. Dona—I can’t remember her last name. God! And she was like, a—I don’t know if she was a visitor or something like that, but she didn’t have a regular appoint —I seem to recall, but I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire for that, for what I say.
DELLINGER: And do you feel like you were treated well by the rest of the faculty?
NAVARRO: No. Well, I was treated well by the department. I was very lucky. I think that—there were—Jonathan Mirsky was right. They were ready to have—to make room for a woman, and so my colleagues in the history department were very, very, very supportive, and Lou Morton was very supportive, so I—I have no complaint.
The point is that I would get telephone calls. “Could I speak with Professor So-and-so?” they would say. I’d say, “Yes.” “Where is he?” I said, “I’m Professor So-and-so.” “Oh! Oh!” At least once a day, rub in, “You’re the wrong person. You’re not supposed to be there.” Colleagues who came to the department and came straight to me, asking me for information, and I would say, “Why do you ask me this?” And they said, “Well, aren’t you the secretary?” I would say, “No.”
Colleagues with whom I had jokes afterwards, so that—you know, we remain friends because otherwise, I would have made too many enemies, which I made in any case, but too many, more than was humanly possible to have.
So the students were wonderful. I was accepted. I was—I had very good students from the very beginning. Some are my colleagues, they teach Latin American history. I see them at conferences. I only had one instance with—in 42 years, one incident in class where somebody wanted to be too clever, and I said, “If you don’t stop, I’m leaving and I’m not coming back.” And so I started walking out and walked out, and then a student, who was my colleague, although he’s a political scientist who teaches at Mount Holyoke [College], came to pick—came to—in my office, and he said, “I want to apologize for my classmate, and we have had a talk. Would you please come back?” And I said yes, and that was it, and it was the end. The student was okay, and the class went okay until the end of the year. I never, never had any problem.
DELLINGER: So how do you describe the makeup of both the faculty and the student body at this point?
NAVARRO: At that point, well, in transition because there were—there were a number of—you get very—a skewed view of the institution, depending on the department in which you are. And because of the nature of the political situation in the United States at that moment, I think that a sector of—of a large—an important sector—and I don’t know how large it was, but an important sector of the student body was very much tuned in to what was going on in the country at large as well as outside of the United States.
A smaller sector, I would say, was highly politicized and had joined SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] and had—there was—they were—I don’t know. I would say there were no more than 20 or 30 students. It was a minority, who were really very, very dead-set on—in their views.
The large majority—Dartmouth was disturbed and did not want to be disturbed, and they did not want to be disturbed, and the disturbances created by the sympathizers of whose who were concerned about the political situation were an important sector, but they were, I would say, a minority in the student body. The student—the large majority wanted things to go on as usual, as tradition dictated. Tradition was very, very important. So therefore they didn’t want to be disturbed.
But insofar as some of them were constantly afraid that they would be—their numbers would be called—(1) there was a danger of numbers to be called; (2) there was all sorts of activities, at the faculty level as well as the student level, and the two together, dealing with the war because it was an important issue for the nation and for anybody who lived here, there was—you had to pay attention to it.
So therefore, the level of commitment, interest or ease with the activities varied enormously. I—when the night of—the day that they took over Parkhurst and put the—a flag of [Ernesto] “Che” Guevara on top of Parkhurst—it was—you know, there was a counter-demonstration in front of Dartmouth Hall. So you had a group there, and you had a group, the other.
Now, granted that they were the two extremes and that—and there were lots of people who were not there, but at night there were also a lot of people when—waiting for the arrival of the National Guard, and they were professors—
John [W.] Lamperti—have you talked to—to him?
NAVARRO: Lamperti, L-a-m-p-e-r-t-i, mathematics, retired. He was—he was there. Michael [J.] Herschensohn [Class of 1963]—he doesn’t live here. Herschensohn. He lives in—I have his telephone. I can give it to you. He lives in Seattle [Washington], and he was in the French department, and he was also there the night Garthwaite, Leo Spitzer and I were there. And Jonathan Mirsky was also there. You have to talk to Mirsky. Some people will be unhappy. He’s very prickly.
DELLINGER: Can you spell Mirsky?
NAVARRO: Mirsky, M-i-r-s-k-y.
DELLINGER: Okay, Mirsky.
NAVARRO: Who else? I can see them, you know. But math—there was—oh—yeah. Lamperti will know more people—if there were people more in the science, and he will know about Dona.
NAVARRO: And the other—the math department. And there’s another one in the French department. Ask Herschensohn who’s the other one in the French department who was there with him.
NAVARRO: Because he—he left. He didn’t continue to be an academic, but he was in—teaching there. There was nobody from government, I think.
Shush. [She apparently addresses the computer, which made a sound indicating mail had been received.]
Nobody from government. There were not too many faculty, but there were faculty, yeah, until the end, until they went away. I just wanted—I think—we want—oh, the Lou—oh no, I don’t think they were there. Martha and Arthur were not there. No.
I just want—I was worried that they’re going to be—they were going to mistreat them, and—or they’re going to be—you know, if the students began, you know, to be raucous and making—and be abusive, which they could be, and—and—the National Guard sort of became a bit more forceful, and I just wanted to be—I—I’m speaking for myself, but I think at least the ones in the history department were there because they were—we wanted to be a witness to what was happening.
Also there were—there were people who—who came up to help the students at the time. Aw! There was a student in art who was a student of a colleagues—Charlie Wood—Charles [T.] Wood is a medievalist, was a medievalist, and he’s dead, and he would have—I don’t know if he’s in the history, oral history. There may be some material there because he’s a great talker. He was a great talker, poor darling. And he defended one of his students, who was very much involved in the takeover.
Yeah, if you—it’s very funny. For years, I had in my office a picture of students being taken out of Parkhurst by the National Guard that had appeared in Uruguay and my mother had sent me. It was a picture like this. It was Dartmouth in Uruguay. [Chuckles.] She said, “What kind of a place have you gone to?” [Chuckles.]
In any case, so—but I’m trying to—and I don’t know what I did with all the papers I had. I had—when I threw away all the papers that I had kept for years, I think that all I had about the Vietnam takeover went to [makes a clicking sound]. That’s—[Sighs in exasperation or frustration.] Anyway, I don’t think I have anything left, in what is left. And I need to get some boxes that Peter wanted me to look at in order to see if they’re going to keep them or not, because I left a lot of papers here.
In any case, what else?
DELLINGER: So when you got here but before the Parkhurst takeover, what kind of interaction with these students that were leading the antiwar movement did you have?
NAVARRO: I did not have any interaction except that I think some of them who had read something about Latin America expected something of me. I had a class on Latin American—on Introduction to Latin America, and then—and that was it. Those other ones ended up going to jail that summer. And I had, like, eight students in jail.
I had interaction with the black students and Native American students, who were not involved in that at all, because there was a play being put that year, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, which is about the conquest of Peru, by a Englishman. I can’t remember the name. And Errol [G.] Hill, who was the director, the drama direct—drama professor, decided to make all the Indians blacks, black, with black students. So—and, since he is from the Caribbean, he asked me—when I arrived, he asked me to go and give a talk, so I—and I did, like, three times, I think, gave talks to the students who were working on the play. So I ended up meeting quite a few there who—some of them ended up taking my classes afterwards. But—and I met some of the Native American students, who—they were yellow—yellow? Oh, God! I ended up—because I taught pre-Columbian Latin America—I ended up being involved in the—with the Native American students later on.
NAVARRO: And I met the two or three that existed here, that lived here, that first year. But, you know, I was new. I was trying to—there was things in the faculty having to do with ROTC and how we were going to vote and all that. I voted—my first vote was against ROTC, with the head of the department looking at—it was Dartmouth Hall—was then—had not been fixed, so it was an old theater with balconies. And Lou Morton was standing up there [chuckles], and I was with the history department, and it was like a sore—what’s the expression?
DELLINGER: Sore thumb?
NAVARRO: A sore thumb, because there I was, the only woman surrounded by men [chuckles], and I looked up, and there was Lou, adjusting his glasses [chuckles] and saying hello to me, and I say, “ God! That is the last time I’m going to be here,” I said. No, but that is not what happened in the history department.
DELLINGER: So you mentioned that you went and visited some of the students that went to jail—
DELLINGER: —and helped them out.
DELLINGER: Was that your own prerogative, or was that somehow organized?
NAVARRO: No! I said, I—“Okay, you can—you did what you thought you needed to do, but now, you know, you still have to finish—you have to finish Dartmouth, so, you know, that’s it. Do you want to finish your course?” “Yeah.” So I organized [chuckles] my daughter and myself—my daughter was—she’s a professor now at Tufts [University], but then she was a little girl, and we would go and have excursions to the jails. And she thought it was cool. She was a good trouper. She didn’t complain. That was nice.
DELLINGER: So what kind of interactions with other faculty members did you have regarding the antiwar movement?
NAVARRO: Well, there were meetings. There were meetings. Few, but there were. James [W.] Fernandez. He is a sociologist. He was not—he’s not here. He—I don’t know where he’s teaching. Actually, somebody told me he had retired. And he’s of Spanish origin, and he lives in Spain, apparently, but I don’t know where. He—there were meetings in what is now Collis [Center for Student Involvement].
NAVARRO: And meetings about what to do—there were some meetings because there were going to be demonstrations at the place where the students—well, where the young men needed to go in order to get the buses out in order for the—when they were called in. There were demonstrations at the Cold Region [sic; Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory]. Do you know where that is? You know what is the Cold Region?
DELLINGER: [No audible reply.]
NAVARRO: The Cold—there is a center on the way to Lyme [New Hampshire], which is military, U.S. government center for research on Cold Regions, sort of underground. Well, anyway, you know, that was our, you know, military-industrial complex [clicks tongue] right then and there, so therefore they organized—students organized, and Lamperti and Jonathan were involved also in organizing some demonstrations there, or at the recruiting center in Lebanon [New Hampshire].
So I remember [chuckles] I went to one of the demonstrations at the Cold Region center, and the police came, Hanover [New Hampshire] police, [all force? 1:11:20]. And I had—I didn’t have—I had a Green Card. I was not a citizen then. I am now a citizen of Spain and citizen of the United States, proud of both, and I use both passports. Very happy with that.
In any case, then I had only Green Card, so therefore I couldn’t afford to be—to be taken by the police, and I hope that Dartmouth would have defended me, but nevertheless, I—I thought it was more reasonable not to be detained or taken over by the police and—and registered. So [in] any case, I began to run, and the person who ran after me was the chief of police, who was the father of a little girl who was the friend of my daughter, and they were classmates in the—in the school. And so—and I knew him because [chuckles] sometimes he brought his daughter to my house, and sometimes I went to pick up my daughter from his house.
But then [chuckles] I overran him, and he never caught me, so [chuckles] I was—and then there was a moment in which there was—you know, he stopped because he needed to do other things and tried to get other people, but anyway, that’s the kind of community that Hanover was then. You know, you knew the people, even the people who were supposedly, according to the students, your enemy. You know, they were not your enemy. I had complete—perfectly nice relationship with the chief of police, through our children. So anyway—but—if you had—I was doing my duty, and he was trying to do his as well.
So—and also some people—I remember once that we went to Lebanon, and some of the students—no, some of the faculty wanted to lie down in front of the buses, and they did. I did not, in order to them, so that was another brouhaha, and people were—they were not detained; they were just removed from the place.
So there—and those things were organized in big meetings in—everybody knew exactly what was going to happen. So did the police. And there would be—the place would be full, and there were community people as well, because there were a lot of community people who came, as a friend of mine who was working in the library and who’s dead and whom I loved very much. One day we met in the Co-op [Food Stores], and I said, “Oh, how nice to see you.” And he said, “Yes, we don’t see each other since the good old bad times.”
Those were the Vietnam years at Dartmouth College, because we would meet constantly in meetings, preparatory meetings, which were held in the college, and the college in particular the—what is the name of the—you know, the kind—the social—the socially—the social thing that is in what is [Collis building? 1:14:46].
DELLINGER: The Common Ground?
NAVARRO: Yeah, it was Common Ground, but there is a—there is a pastor there. What’s his name? I don’t know who it is now. Yes. And there is—and it began with a—that’s history—history of that has to do with socially it’s that’s—it has to do with social activism, and it was done. It was done at the time of the civil rights movement. That’s when it was founded. And it’s still there. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
DELLINGER: In Collis?
NAVARRO: Who—what chapl—there’s a chaplain at Dartmouth.
DELLINGER: Yeah, I think so, but he’s in Rollins Chapel, right?
NAVARRO: No, he’s there.
NAVARRO: And he’s the one who reads at the time of the convocation. What are you?
DELLINGER: I’m a junior.
NAVARRO: You’re a junior. Well—and you haven’t seen a chaplain of any kind? Well, that’s Dartmouth. That’s good. Because, you know, God is there, but it’s in places where you can find Him if you need Him and you look for Him, which I think is wonderful.
All right. What else?
DELLINGER: So after the Parkhurst takeover, what was the faculty’s reaction?
NAVARRO: Well, there was a great deal of division. There were some people who were very conservative and—in particular in the economics department, where some of my friends were, later friends. Also the English department. In many—in several departments. So therefore there was a great deal of complaints. But the faculty was sort of quiet. Well, you know, the people who ended up, like, working for or—or supporting The Dartmouth Review were—were—were there. And—but—but I don’t think—there was no—you know, there were sides that were drawn, and that is all. I don’t remember right now anything of note that I could say about the divisions that there were. Everybody knew who was on what—on which side you were.
And—and there were friends. You had your friends, and—but there was—there was an atmosphere of—of collegiality and—and—and respect for one another, I would say until—until The Dartmouth Review began publications. Until then, things were—that doesn’t mean everybody agreed with everybody, but you were free to believe—to—to be where you were.
NAVARRO: And—and—and there was no problem about that.
DELLINGER: So how did The Dartmouth Review change that?
NAVARRO: Well, The Dartmouth Review attacked people. It attacked—it attacked me. I was a bête noir of The Dartmouth Review. I never had a student, but they—they—they—my courses were—[unintelligible; 1:18:58]—“Don’t take her.” First, on top. They lied about me because I confronted them before knowing who they were. I did not know who they were, and they came and asked me to do—Dinesh [J.] D’Souza [Class of 1983] came and asked me to do—to do an interview with Collette [L.] Gaudin, who was a professor in the French department, who was another old-timer, who was in the—I don’t think she was in the ranks when—when I came, but she was teaching in the French department. And then she got tenured at the same time that I got tenure.
So—and we worked together in the—in the—in the women’s studies program. And so they—they asked if they could have—I got—I got a called from this student, who I didn’t know, Dinesh D’Souza, asking me to have an interview in a new newspaper that they were going to publish. Student newspaper, you support. Whoever—you know, I had no reason to believe anything bad about any—any of the students.
So I said yes, but since I didn’t know him, I said, “Well, is it possible to see the article before you—you—you publish it?” And he said, “Yes.” So—and he said, “You and Collette Gaudin.” I said, “Fine.” So we did the article, and then by that time, by the time of the publication, which was for graduation, the rumor was that it was going to be a child of the National—what’s the name of the—
DELLINGER: The National Review?
NAVARRO: The National Review was going to come out, and that it was a Dartmouth Review, and I said, “Oh, my God.” I called Dinesh D’Souza, and I said, “You—you—you said you were—are you going to publish the interview?” And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Well, would you—you didn’t show it to us.” And he said, “Well, I’m—I’ll do it. Do you come—[we mark? 1:21:35] the day?” And already knew that it was connected by then to the National Review.
So I said—the day came. The day did not come. He called me before and said, “We’re not gonna—I’m not gonna show it to you.” And I said, “Why not? You promised that.” And he said, “Well, we’re not going to show it to you because that’s not what we do.” And I said, “Okay, I want a meeting with whoever publishes this.” And so I went. I had a meeting with—who else was it? Dinesh D’Souza, and it was somebody else, the editor, who ended up going to the—the—The Wall Street Journal afterwards. I can’t remember his name.
So I went there to the history department, in—in Reed Hall, in the seminar room, and I said, “I understand—I had a promise from Dinesh.” There were two of them, Dinesh and him—and the editor. And I said—damn, I can’t remember his name. “Dinesh promised, didn’t you, that you were going to show me the art- —the article—and show Professor Gaudin [unintelligible; 1:23:07] the article, and now you don’t want to—to show it.”
They said, “Well, first of all, he couldn’t have promised you that.” And I said, “Well, he did, and I would like to see it.” He said, “You’re not gonna see it because a newspaper man—a newspaper doesn’t show the article,” the editor said. And I said, “He made a promise to me, and I didn’t know him from anything. I accepted what he wanted to do, and we are,” I said, “at Dartmouth College. This is a special place. It’s a community, which has rules, written and unwritten. This would be an unwritten rule that if I ask and I said yes, I expect him to do what he promised to do.”
And he said, “Well, that’s not the way it is.” And I said, “You have to accept—you have to tell him to show me the article.” “I won’t do that,” he said. “There is no showing of the article.” And I said, “You’re a little fascist,” I said. “This student lives in a very special place in which we have rules which do not exist outside of it. It’s a community in which we all play by that rules. We all respect each other, despite some things that happen from time to time. But this is the kind of thing that cannot be accepted. You want to destroy this community. You’re a fascist.”
And I walked out, and that was it. They never said that I called them fascist. They hated me for the rest of my life here. But that was my—and then they persecuted me, putting things on my—I had a poster of Gloria [M.] Steinem at the time that—oh, what’s his name? Mc—the president, who came from—oh, God!—who came—after [John G.] Kemeny, who came? Oh, God! He was—he was the head of Toro, a company. Well, he didn’t last long. In any case, I can’t remember his name. I’m getting old! This is terrible!
And—and—how did I get that sentence? What was I talking about?
NAVARRO: Oh, yes, at his inauguration. He wanted to do something big, and I asked Gloria to come. She came and gave a talk, and we had—it was going to be Tuck School, and there were so many people, it was cancelled right then and there, and we all walked—the president had Spalding Auditorium opened for us, and we all walked to Spalding Auditorium.
Anyway, I had the poster in my—in the door. It was defaced with—somebody drew a penis, and it was horrible. That’s what they did every time that I was somewhere. I went to Nicaragua on a project of—from the Latin American Studies Association. I went to see that the agreements of Esquipulas II [a Latin American peace agreement] were carried out so that Congress could lift the sanctions against the Contras in Nicaragua. I mean, this was not [a] little thing.
And—because I had done that and I was—and I was doing Latin American studies, I don’t know who invited me to give a talk, report about the situation in Central America. It was during the [President Ronald W.] Reagan administration. So I go and give a talk, and Laura—Laura What’s-her-name? [Laura A. Ingraham, Class of 1985]—who is a big person in—she’s Laura. She’s a radio person, and she was, I think—she worked in The Dartmouth Review then. She sat in front of me with a tape recorder. And before I began to speak, I said, “Will you please turn it off?” And she said—she turned it off, and she put it on the side.
No, she did not turn it off but put it on the side. And then I continued. The people start coming in, continued to come, and I see that she takes it again and puts it on her lap. And I said, out loud, in the microphone, “If you don’t turn off the tape recorder, I”—first of all, I said, “You—I don’t give you permission to tape me, and if you do not turn off the tape recorder, I’m walking out.”
She didn’t—she stood like that [demonstrates] and didn’t touch it. So I began to get my papers together, and some students came and said, “Just—you turn it off. We came to listen to her, so you turn it off.” So she turned it off and put it away so that she could—and they put it away so that she couldn’t touch it.
But, you know, I’m not going to give them a tape of what I say, because they’re going to say what they want to say, they want me to have said. So therefore—that’s what they did all the time. They said that I said when I didn’t say. And I was not going to have that in any way. They were very bad on this campus. And they made—I mean, they were even—there was another professor who was as badly treated as I was, if not worse.
DELLINGER: And who was that?
NAVARRO: Professor [Northern? 1:29:42]. He was a professor of music. We were the two victims, but they never beat me.
DELLINGER: So it seems like Dartmouth, the antiwar movement reached sort of [the] high point with the Parkhurst takeover.
DELLINGER: How did it continue after that?
NAVARRO: It sort of—well, there was—there was then the—what is it called? Oh, God, when the school shot up, after the Kent killings [Kent State University shootings]. I think that—then—then the tide had turned, and [John G.] Kemeny, instead of—I think of—he was—you know, he was not pro-stu—I don’t think he did anything that told the students that his position—he supported any kind of activities that the students were involved in. That was not it. But when, at the national level, there was something bad that happened, which was the Kent killings, and then it was obvious that there was going to be some sort of—complaint or organized protest on the parts of the students, they decided that, to the dismay of many alums,—and I—I don’t think—there was—I don’t think there was a position in the faculty at all to close the college and have two days of conversation and—talking about all the issues that had been talked in the meetings in Collis or in the meet—or in the actions of the community, faculty, students, because that’s what—there was a community at large that supported what the students did.
And so those actions which had been carried out by these groups ended up then privileged, if you want to, by the turn of the war, by the continuation of the war, the events of—of Kent State and the opening of the university or of the college to say, “All right, this is a serious issue. You know, what do you want to do with it? How do we talk about it? What can we learn from that? What happens with this?”
And so that I think sort of—it sort of calmed down everything, actually, eventually, as the negotiations in Paris went on, et cetera. There was a correspondence of what was happening, in a way, in the university, and the country when, you know, the marches became fantastically huge and the—and the consensus about the—on the war was greater. And so therefore it—we—it petered out. It petered out.
And then—it’s taken a long time, but it took a while that courses on Vietnam began to appear in—the college curriculum, which is very good, because one way you can learn—actually, I think that Jonathan Mirsky had a course during—during the war. He became an expert in the war, and, as I said, he wrote for the—for the New York Review of Books on the Vietnam War.
But that—that was then, and then afterwards, just the years have gone by, and—and—then the distance has allowed to view the process with a different—and we even—you know, we had [Edward G.] “Ed” Miller, who is our expert, but it took a hell of a long time to get somebody.
Well, actually not. It’s all right because you need—you need that time in between, which means that, you know, you can be still passionate about the issue but there’s more information to give you all the pieces that you have to have with the passion, because if you don’t have information, we’re in trouble.
DELLINGER: So you mentioned that the administration was really helpful after Parkhurst and after Kent State and calming things down. Was that always the case before?
NAVARRO: Well, no. I think that—I think that is a really—the real difference between what the administration was at the time of Parkhurst, where in fact, you know, it couldn’t—it couldn’t handle the students, and—Kemeny just understood that it was a different time and that you needed to take different measures. And one of the measures was a day or two of classes suspended; “Let’s talk about this.” If we have—if we’re going to have—if this is going to be a problem, let’s get a handle on the problem.” And it wasn’t a problem And not a—as I recall it.
And I think it has to do—but I think that—that the change has to do with the war, itself, the country, itself, and the—and the changes that were taking place in the—in terms of the general acceptance or rejection of what was going on in Vietnam.
DELLINGER: So you continued working at Dartmouth for a number of years.
NAVARRO: Until—until 2008,—
NAVARRO: —at which point, after teaching 42 years, I decided that it was time to go. I asked for a fellowship at Harvard University, at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and I got a fellowship for one year, and I went. And by that—I retired from Dartmouth. And so they asked—they asked me if I wanted to stay at the David Rockefeller, and I said, “Yes!” And so I have been, since then, at the David Rockefeller Center as a resident scholar, which means I’m in a community of Latin Americanists, fellows from Latin America and the United States (it’s mixed).
And next year I’m going to have one of my students from Dartmouth, who’s now a professor at Princeton University—is going to be my fellow at “doctor class,” as it is called, at the David Rockefeller Center, [Robert A.] “Rob” Karl [Class of 2003], who works on Colombia, and it’s going to be wonderful to have him here. He was my last honor student that I had, the last student who did an honors thesis with me. And now he’s going to be sitting next to—in an office next to me, and we’re going to have a good time. But he’s there for a year, but I’m the only resident scholar. They don’t have another one. They don’t want another one. But they don’t want to get rid of me, either, for the moment. And this is very nice because where would I see Rob Karl now, you know, to talk and talk and talk? I only see him at the professional meetings, so it’s nice to have him in an office next to me.
DELLINGER: Forty years is a long time to teach here. I think you might agree that the college changed a lot in that time.
NAVARRO: Enormously, and yet, at the same time, not really. I think that the composition of the—the human composition of the—of the college has changed because there are, you know, different—people of different races and cultures in larger quantities than there used to be, then, when I came. There’s gender, which has complexity of gender. It’s no longer two genders but whatever. There is a complexity—a gender complexity. That way, you cover everything.
There was something very special about this place, which was at least I—you know, the history department was a very tight-knit place, very democratic. The seniors—the senior professors were—did not rub the fact that they were the senior professors under the nose of the junior professors. You taught not what you wanted but what the curriculum—was required of you, which means that you knew exactly what, you know, a history major was supposed to have or could have. And it didn’t matter whether—if you were a senior member or a junior member of the—you would eat [sic] senior—you would teach senior—senior courses or——or freshman seminars. And there were some senior professors who loved teaching seminars, freshman seminars, and I was one of them. I loved freshman seminars. I got history majors almost of all the students who took freshman seminars with me.
DELLINGER: I became a history major because of my freshman seminar.
NAVARRO: You see? What did you take it on?
DELLINGER: It was about the Cold War, with Professor [Allen V. ?] Koop.
NAVARRO: Ah. There’s no way to—you know, it’s marvelous. It’s marvelous. So anyway, I had one on the—on the conquest of Mexico, which was a classic one. Anyway—because they never—they knew who had conquered when they began and, barely, who was conquered. And then, at the same time, at the end of the course, they understood the complexity of the events, which is what you want to do in a freshman seminar, and how difficult it is to get all the pieces together. And that’s why you have to have all the pieces. It’s wonderful. I just loved it. Anyway, I had a very good time teaching freshman seminars as well.
So—but the—and also, it was an institution that was enormously democratic. It was also an institution where the faculty had a great deal of power. It was very involved in the—in the workings of the institution, which meant a lot of work, additional work, but nevertheless also made a hell of a difference, it seems to me, in how you viewed the institutions and what you did in it. All that has disappeared, to a large extent. And that is sad.
There was another thing that was very special then, and that—you had, in the first decades, certainly—you were—you were in a high-power place that had very good teachers and very good scholars. Not as many good scholars as other institutions had, but we had better teachers than most other schools had. And you were socialized—at least I was socialized in the history department to keep my door open and—and talk with students. And there were all sorts of activities that were supported by the institutions for you to meet the students, to have them at your house, to become friends with them, to have informal discussions with them. And that was very good. All that has disappeared.
Yet I still think that, even in the last decade or so that I was teaching here, when I think that all that had begun to change begun—there’s still a level of relationship between students and faculty that is exceptional. In many other institutions, the majority of institutions, I would say, from what I hear, from what I gather, from what I am told by students who have brothers or sisters in other institutions or friends in other institutions—
So I think that—it’s—it’s diminishing. I also think that this institution, like most institutions, has had a hard—a very hard time with the incorporation of women students in the institutions, and has—and continues to be that—and that continues to be that way, though you may not have—you may not have the same—the same problems that you had some years ago. I know that I am going to be chastised by much of the community, but I think that we—I think the existence of fraternities is bad and the existence of sorority makes it even worse, and that, though I understand the historical reasons why these institutions exist and existed and made sense at a time where students came from God knows where and had to live here in the winter in particular, and they couldn't go home—they were not day institutions; they were day-and-night institutions, and weeks-and-months institutions, so therefore you also needed to work, to do sports, to do reading and to have—and to have some relaxation.
But it makes perfect sense, but that’s not—and there were no roads to come. So they do not make that much sense to me in the 20th [sic] century, and they’re structures which are not worth being kept—and today the eating clubs at Harvard have been shut up. They’re going to sue—they’re going to kick and holler, but they’re gone.
The issue is that you cannot patch up these institutions. You—and I think that this is something that affects what goes on in this institution, and I think that it’s sad that the kind of—still when I came, there was a sort of a moment there. It was short. It was the end of the—Dartmouth as a perfect place. And since then, it’s not—it’s not gone downhill because that’s not true. Intellectually, it’s in a very good place. But I think that socially—and the human beings that come here do not have the experience that they should have, because we don’t want to bite the bullet. We’ve never wanted to bite the bullet.
And I’ve said all these things many a times, and everybody thinks that I am out of my mind, but I still continue to think that fraternities are bad, the sororities are worse, and that there is a way to maintain some sort of equilibrium in a world that has sexual mores that are very different to those that existed at the time that these institutions were created. And that—that is—you know, like—it’s like this: What can we do? You know, I don’t envy those who have to make the decision, but some institutions have made them, and others will have to make them. And I don’t think that you can fix it in any other way. And I don’t think that the remedies that have been invented in the last 20 years have helped.
DELLINGER: Hmm. Do you have any last thoughts about your experience or, you know, Dartmouth in the Vietnam era?
NAVARRO: No. I—last thoughts. It was very exciting. Very exciting. All the good things about Dartmouth got heightened, and therefore it was a very good place. It was—I think it eased my life here because—it made—it involved people from the community, it involved faculty wives, and it involved—the presence of women increased, even if they were not in the faculty.
And then, on the other hand—oh, on the other hand, it allowed me to be very bad and talk about coeducation—big—open my big mouth. And then talking about the fact that there was discrimination against women in hiring at Dartmouth College, which got some people very, very angry at me. But they had to accept that was the case eventually.
So they—it helped me. And those were things that were good, and those were things that made the situation worse at the same time, because it was—all these things were a big battle.
And—Vietnam was mixed with coeducation, as far as I’m concerned. And Vietnam and coeducation were mixed with the—a committee, committee that the COP [Committee on Organization and Policy] named when I wrote a letter to the COP saying, “There’s discrimination against women at Dartmouth.” And they—I was an assistant professor, and they put me on a committee, chair a committee on the status of women at Dartmouth, with—the other woman was the wife of the chair of the French department, who was an adjunct professor. And I was an assistant professor. And the other members were all chairs of other departments, including the chair of the history department. They were vicious. And I chaired it. Twelve recommendations, and I got eleven through the faculty.
DELLINGER: So do you think your participation in the antiwar movement or being a woman affected your ability to get tenure at all? Was it more difficult for you because of—
DELLINGER: —your participation?
NAVARRO: No. No, but they didn’t do me any favors, either.
NAVARRO: I did my work. And I—when I came, I had tenure where I was, and I gave up tenure because I had a child, and it is a better—and Dartmouth was a better institution than the one [where] I was. But they would never have given that to a man. My hiring at Dartmouth was done the way it was done because I was a woman, because I am a woman. But instead of being bitter, I really turned it around. They ended up having to eat crow. They ended up having to hire more women because history was on my side.
Well, thank you for coming. Thank you for giving this interview. You’ve been extremely helpful.
NAVARRO: I hope so. I wish I remember more the names, but if you need—if you need more help, I’ll try to remember or look for ways to complete names, okay?
DELLINGER: Thank you very much.
NAVARRO: Thank you.
DELLINGER: This is Patrick Dellinger. Thank you.
[End of interview.]