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Dartmouth College Ousts Homophobe As “Moral Spokesperson”

Last week, Queerty reported on a scandal that Dartmouth was trying to keep quiet.

In July, the gay-friendly Ivy League college appointed bishop James Tengatenga to head their Tucker Foundation, which serves to “educate Dartmouth students for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality, and social justice.” Tengatenga would also assume the role of “moral spokesperson” for the college.

The only problem: Tengatenga has a long history of making antigay statements.

For the most part, Dartmouth’s public affairs team did a good job at keeping the story under wraps. Queerty’s article made the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and throughout Dartmouth’s alumni community, and on Wednesday, Dartmouth’s President, Philip J. Hanlon, released a statement saying Tengatenga’s job offer had officially been rescinded.

Wrote Hanlon:

[F]ollowing much reflection and consultation with senior leaders at Dartmouth, it has become clear to me that Dr. Tengatenga’s past comments about homosexuality and the uncertainty and controversy they created have compromised his ability to serve effectively as dean of Tucker.

The foundation and Dartmouth’s commitment to inclusion are too important to be mired in discord over this appointment. Consequently, we have decided not to move forward with the appointment of Dr. Tengatenga as dean of the Tucker Foundation.

While we certainly don’t wish Tengatenga any ill-will, perhaps this will serve as a lesson to him and others that promoting intolerance and homophobia doesn’t just make you look like a jackass, it can cost you your job.

Kudos to Hanlon for doing the right thing.

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  • Craig

    Now, let this be an example you to you Queerty, You should do the right thing and sever ties with Stoli. There are things more important than your bottom line.

  • mlbumiller

    @Craig: which Stoli are yo speaking… Please do your research before making a statement. There is a major dispute to the name/trademark/ownership since 2003.

    In Russia, the product is produced in the ITAR Distillery (Kaliningrad, Russia)

    If bought outside of Russia, the product is produced by the SPI Group produced and bottled in Latvia for SPI Cypru. Last I read, Latvia has been an indepentent country since 1991.

    So, unless your are in Russia, the Stoli you are protesting about and dumping is not Russian but Lavian.

    Learned this in 15min surfing the net.

  • MK Ultra

    If the comments of homophobes and hate groups and bigots come back to bite them in the ass, well that’s just a life lesson that they learned the hard way.
    What goes around, comes around.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Princeton should have done the same for Robert P. George, whose little NOM experiment turned into an typical hate group.

  • jwrappaport

    Queerty is nicer than I am. I do wish him ill will.

  • redspyder


    Perhaps you should do more research.

    While the product sold internationally is made in Latvia, the raw alcohol (and its ingredients) come from Russia and are imported into Latvia. Yuri Scheffler – who controls the SPI Group – is reported to be an “ex-Russian” nowadays. He is worth an estimated $800 million dollars (as of 2010) and reputedly lives the high life in London and Switzerland. Two years before Putin took control in Russia, Scheffler – as head of FKP Soyuzplodimport (the current licensee of Stoli @ the ITAR Distillery) – allegedly sold himself the rights to 43 brands for $300,000. A report by the government audit commission later valued those rights at $400 million. Russian courts subsequently ordered 17 of those brands returned to state control. Russian authorities supposedly once asked Interpol to find him for “threatening to kill a senior official in a dispute over rights to some of the country’s most lucrative vodka brands”. Over $40 million worth of Stoli vodka was seized – allegedly forcing the shutdown of distillery production in Russia and the start of it in Latvia.

    From a marketing perspective, Stoli’s previous global distributors countered accusations that Stoli WASN’T a Russian vodka by stating it IS an authentic Russian vodka, as nothing is added or removed during the bottling process in Latvia. In 2010, a lawsuit by Russian Standard over this was dismissed with prejudice, without any admission of liability by any party, without payment of money by any party to any other party and without injunctive relief for or against any party or any of its affiliate. The truth of that claim was never revealed.

    As of 2013, SPI Group has admitted that several hundred employees (out of ~2,500) work within Russia, and while they have introduced a non-discrimination policy and domestic partner benefits in the US – they have NOT done so in their Luxembourg offices nor their Russian offices nor elsewhere. After discussion, they said they would ‘look into this’.

    It is probably worth noting that while SPI Group does not have the rights for Stoli inside Russia – they do continue to make and sell other brands throughout Russia.

    The Russian government contends that ALL licenses for Stoli revert in 2014. Oddly enough – the Winter Olympics in Russia are in 2014. One could argue that a successful international boycott would make Stoli much less attractive to the Russians and possibly do SPG Group a favor. Probably not without a smile breaking out though. ;)

  • yaoming

    @redspyder: Good to know.

  • Halston

    @Craig: Stop using gasoline and supporting executions of gays in the Middle East. I know you probably have to drive to get to work…but common on now think of your Middle Eastern gay brothers and sisters!

  • Cam

    Why was this person hired in the first place. Which homophobe hired him and hoped that nobody would notice? IT isn’t as if his history was unknown.

  • Daniel-Reader

    Latvia is a really bad place for GLBTA people if you’ve paid attention to the world at all, so stop pretending it is somehow acceptable.

  • Kangol


    Please stop trying to turn this into a ra•cial issue. There are black gay people too, and virulent anti-black ra•cists abound, and act with impunity (cf. Orson Scott Card, Rush Limpblob, Sean Hannity, Steve King, Newt Gingrich, etc.), especially if they belong to the GOP.

  • millhouse

    Aside from finding the Tucker Foundation with its spirituality/moral/service combo to be a little strange/dated, as a Dartmouth alumnus, I’m happy with this decision.

    At first I thought, “Well this guy comes from a church background, and in Africa (Malawi) no less”, so you have to put his past comments in context.

    Keeping in mind homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries (which included Malawi until last year), along with strong discrimination in others where it is not illegal. But then I heard about Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa) making a statement about how he would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.

    So maybe my preconceived notions of ignorance weren’t right.

    In any case, I’m admire that the Tucker selection committee had such a broad search, but maybe in the future it should be kept in mind to find someone that fits with the College’s and Tucker’s values. Given, challenge to those values should be welcome, or at least heard out, although not when clearly discriminatory as in this case.

  • Cam


    Maybe his attitudes DO fit with the selection committee’s values and it was only the public outcry that forced them to rethink.

Comments are closed.