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The Committee Removes All Doubt

A “disgusted” young alum writes to inform me that the Executive Committee of the Assocation of Alumni of Dartmouth College has removed all doubt: They have admitted, albeit unofficially, that they plan not to allow the annual October election to take place, whether the Alumni Governance Task Force’s new constitution passes or not. In other words, not only will alumni be refused all-media voting if they fail to pass the contentious constitution—the current committee could allow all-media voting over a conference call today, but refuses—but should that constitution not pass, the annual meeting of alumni will be pulled from under them and no new Executive Committee will be elected.

I must say that I feel a little disgust as well, and folks who had been trying desperately to presume the best of intentions are really stripped of all motivation now. Last month I called for “a real, honest discussion” in this post. I wrote:

The constitution is a complex document on which it will take several months to reach a broad consensus. Indeed, the original draft was released back in September of 2005 and the revision has taken well over six months to complete. Certainly its framers cannot expect tens of thousands of alumni to digest legalese-couched code in a short amount of time. Constitution-drafting bodies cannot in good faith frame a document, fail to explain why it is warranted, release it to great criticism, and then rescind, revise, and delay the second release so that the deliberation window is small enough that it stands a chance of passing out of sheer ignorance. Dartmouth ought to hold itself to a higher standard. At this late date, on the cusp of March and still without the revised constitution, it would be a true shame to see the proposed constitution appear on any official ballot before the Alumni Association meeting of next October. If it is there, alumni will know they have been poorly served by an activist minority that, in securing their own positions of power, have left many voces lost in the wilderness.
I think the worst may have come true. Not only is this new draft likely to be voted on before the next meeting, but if alumni reject it they will be punished by not having a chance to elect anyone at that meeting.

Much, much more on this to come. Do stay tuned.

Text of the comment, with emphasis added, is in the extended.

Article XII was under intense discussion in the AGTF as the deadline loomed to get the “penultimate draft” out the door. E-mail discussions are continuing and it is a major agenda item for our intended March 28th in-person meeting. In short, creating language that adequately covers all aspects of the transition has proven to be quite a challenge.

The “gaps” that you point out are well taken and are among the ones being discussed. You should keep in mind, too, that if the AGTF Constitution is adopted the entire organizational structure changes and voting would shift from in-person meetings (usually in the fall or early winter) to all-alumni/”all-media” (usually in the spring). The officer structure would be completely different, too. Annual voting would be for Association Vice President, which is the entry level position in the four-year officer arc that the AGTF constitution proposes. There would be no Executive Committee, but there would be a number of at-large positions to be filled. Even if the AGTF proposal does not pass, the coming change to “all-media” voting will likely cause voting to shift to the springtime, often in conjunction with voting for alumni trustee. So, how do we get there from here?

For starters, it is unlikely that there will be a vote in October. Regarless of the outcome of the AGTF constitution, it is envisioned that “all-media” voting will require a shift to the spring, with succussful candidates taking office on 7/1/07. Making the shift to a system that is universally desired (“repeat 50 times”??) will, nontheless, be messy. The AGTF constitution provides for a hold-over of current leaders until the officer arc and the other structures are established and functioning (on or about 7/1/07). If the AGTF does not pass, the current AOA ExecComm is likely to propose something similar. In both cases, and as I mentioned above, the fine points on how to do this in a manner that is fair, equitable, transparent, and consitutionally correct are still being worked out (perhaps others are beginning to appreciate the “complexities” that we have mentioned in the past).

Secondly, guidelines that spell out appropriate lead-times for getting petitions filed and notices posted, etc., etc. are obviously in need of being revamped, and the ExecComm has that almost done (we are trying to be sure that they are available no later than the 3/27 web cast). Look for those soon.

Lastly, I hope that you will lend your considerable interest in these issues (and analytic skill) to suggest possible pathways through the thickets. The shift is something we all want, and we all want to see it done right.

By Bill Hutchinson ‘76, at 3/14/2006 10:44 AM

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