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The Appearance of Impropriety

David Gale, Dartmouth ‘00, on the amendment up for vote this Sunday:

A week ago, I was planning on voting in favor, because it introduces all-media voting, which I strongly desire. Once I started posting here and giving it more thought (and closer examination), I began to have doubts. Today, I decided that I will vote to reject the amendment, in large part because Bill pointed out in a post on the AGTF blog (titled “Better Representation”) that the next amendment we vote on will likely be the new constitution. Since he is on both the AGTF and the Executive Committee, that comment confirmed that this amendment is meant to have a very short lifetime—specifically, it will be in place for one vote, if it and the AGTF proposal are confirmed. Why introduce an amendment with such a short expected lifespan, if not to make the passage of the proposed constitution easier? The proposed constitution already required acceptance by two-thirds of all voting alumni before it could be effective, so this amendment doesn’t add that; no, the net effect of the amendment is to remove the requirement that the AGTF proposal pass a 75% vote of alumni voting in Hanover, with various side effects—including, but not limited to, limiting the ability of alumni to introduce alternate petition amendments and removing the current guarantee of when such amendments will be voted on, both of which have already been complained about.

I’d said earlier that one of my major concerns with the 2/12 amendment is the appearance of impropriety; I’m afraid Bill’s post confirmed that appearance. Since this amendment is meant to last only a few months in order to help the AGTF proposal be accepted, I will vote against this amendment, and I urge all other alumni to do the same.

I echo David’s advice, and will have more to add soon, although it seems unlikely that the amendment’s backers will face any large opposition, being that this is, once again, an In-Hanover-Only vote. One wonders why an executive order didn’t simply allow this “all-media amendment” itself to be put to an all-media vote.

MORE: Noah Riner has more in The Dartmouth today.

UPDATE: In reporting on the Alumni Assocation meeting this Sunday, The Dartmouth founders just a wee bit more:

“This is a very public process,” Fisher-Harris said. “And ultimately the proposed changes in the new constitution are not that different from what we have presently.”

Fisher-Harris said that if the amendment passes Sunday, more than 60,000 alumni can vote on whether to enact the new constitution.

“This new amendment will allow all alumni wherever they live, to participate in the decision,” Fisher-Harris said. “The process will ultimately be more democratic and transparent.”

Except that the new constitution is seriously flawed, and this amendment is an attempt at softly paddling it in over objections. That this amendment mirrors one aspect of a flawed document and that this amendment is calculated to usher in said document is no virtue. But by far the most serious (I’ll be generous and call it an ‘error’) is the fact that the proposed new constitution itself requires an all-media alumni vote. With or without this amendment. Shameless misdirections like this are eerily reminiscent of a presidential election, and whomever thought that he or she could trick alumni into voting for this amendment by claiming that otherwise the vote for the constitution would be in-Hanover-only should aplogize and correct the record. Quickly.


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