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Bylaws and More Bylaws

The Constitution of Dartmouth’s Alumni Association, the language of which governs the election of Trustees, is located right here and consists of roughly 1,500 words. That’s four pages in standard Microsoft Word formatting. A proposed update currently circulating, reported noncritically in The Dartmouth here, is 6,700 words and fills eighteen pages. Significant updates were penned in the section governing the election of trustees.

The Task Force on Alumni Governance was commissioned to draft the update in the Spring of 2004, just as T.J. Rodgers- a petition candidate- was elected to the Board of Trustees. Rodgers’ democratic win inspired two new petition trustee candidates in last Spring’s elections (still run under the old constitution) and once again, the petitioners won. Now, significant changes are proposed to the election system under which these men won. I will take some time to review the old constitution and the new proposal, and I’ll report on anything I find questionable or praiseworthy.

UPDATE: A Dartmouth ‘68, in advance of my post on the new constitution, offers a warning about which comparisons to make. In the interest of transparency (and the good historical context he provides), the message is in the extended.

A 1968 graduate sends along this advisement, which is something I had overlooked and will keep in mind:

Just a short comment on your comment on the recently released new draft constitution for the Alumni Association. To be perfectly fair you need to compare both the existing constitution for the Alumni Association and the existing constitution for the Alumni Council. The new constitution seeks to merge the two organizations about which there is much confusion and overlap…

[This] effort has been led by Joe Stevenson ‘57; Joe’s style has been characterized by openness, transparency, dialogue and proffered good will. I also have a high regard for a number of the other alumni who have worked assiduously on its development.

A previous attempt was met with much suspicion and misunderstanding when it was put up for adoption before the general alumni in December 2003. Adoption requires a 75% mandate from alumni voting in person. The 2003 effort received 72%. The current revised document is going to be reviewed at an Alumni Association meeting over Homecoming weekend and then in December at an Alumni Council.

This document too must be eventually ratified by the greater body of the alumni. Writing new constitutions is difficult business. I do believe there is merit in combining the two organizations and there is nothing nefarious about this effort [which would lead] to disenfranchisement [of] any alumni.


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