Over the last few weeks, Dartmouth and Oberlin canceled classes to address controversial speech and racism with a day of forums.

Students and others now question whether approach is appropriate or effective. Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Education offers an analysis:

If an administration wants to respond to an incident of bigotry with a strong statement of inclusiveness, canceling classes and holding a series of lectures and forums in their place is one way to do it.

That’s what two colleges did this spring in response to bias incidents that caused a stir on campus. But while some students commend the effort to foster dialogue and civility, others question the effectiveness and appropriateness of the decisions.

First Oberlin College, after a string of hate-related campus incidents including anti-Semitic and racist graffiti and a reported assault, canceled classes in March when a student reported someone walking near its Afrikan Heritage House in what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan outfit….

Then last week, Dartmouth College called off classes for a day after some students were the targets of threats of bodily harm, threats that cited their sexual orientation or race…

Some students said the colleges’ response was an important and effective part of educating students outside the classroom on social justice issues that pervade every campus…

But others were more skeptical. Suril A. Kantaria, Dartmouth’s student body president, said canceling classes because of the online threats “wasn’t the most effective” response, nor was it effective.

“We’re at Dartmouth to study and that comes first, and a lot of this gathering response could have occurred at a different time,” such as a weekend or in the evening, Kantaria said. “I think it’s a worthwhile use of time, if they hadn’t canceled classes — the community does need to come together now to discuss issues that are prevalent.”

But Kantaria said “several” students are upset both about the way the protesters carried themselves — disrupting a planned event for high schoolers visiting the campus — and about administrators’ failure to consult other students when deciding whether to cancel classes, a decision Kantaria said was requested by the protesters themselves.

An editorial in The Dartmouth, the student newspaper, said, “The message seems to be that, if you fly a political banner, are sufficiently angry and manage to break enough college rules, you can gain a stranglehold over the administration.”