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The Dartmouth Covers Governance Battle

Ben Taylor, when not swabbing the decks, reports for The Dartmouth. His article this ayem is “Alumni battle in national spotlight.” Now, I hasten to add that his topic isn’t purely an alumni battle, because the ‘battle’, such as it is, is over the process of electing trustees to the Board which runs Dartmouth, and that election process happens to be controlled by whichever constitution controls alumni governance. There is an effort, as Dartblog readers know, to turn the system for petitioning upside down, and in my opinion and that of many others, the proposal on the table would interdict future petition candidates.

It is very plain to see that there is immense demand for outsider, reform-minded petition candidates—witness the last three openings on the Board, all of which were filled by petitioners. A few years ago, T.J. Rodgers won a seat when, of all Dartmouth alumni who decided to vote, 54.7% voted for him. And then Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki won spots when, of all Dartmouth alumni who decided to vote, powerful pluralities of 48.1% and 44.6% voted for them, respectively. Because of the evident demand for fresh voices, I consider it important to vote against the proposed constitution. Those looking for a summary of the issues couldn’t do much better than Ben’s article. The Dartmouth has previously reported on the situation in “Association of Alumni halts imminent elections.”

NOTE: The article does have one factual error. It says, “Under the current rules, the Alumni Association nominates two alumni for each open seat on the Board of Trustees.” However, the Alumni Association nominates two alumni for each open seat only when there is more than one open seat. If there is one open seat, the Association nominates three alumni, ostensibly to provide a more diverse slate of options. Unfortunately, it has been the case that all the nominated candidates routinely fail to diverge on any of the issues facing Dartmouth. In this deficit of diversity, the petition process has provided an outlet for unorthodox ideas, and I say again that it ought to be protected from being turned upside-down by this proposed constitution.

VIA E-MAIL: Comes one clarifying point. Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, votes are not “split” across the two or three nominees the Association must put up for each seat. This is because, as the balloting rules make very clear, voters may vote for as many candidates as they like.

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