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Can’t Alumni Make Up Their Own Minds? — Round 2

By now, many Dartmouth alumni know that Peter Fahey ‘68 (who just a week ago claimed in The Dartmouth that, essentially, a vote against the constitution is a vote against Dartmouth College itself), through the organization strangely called Dartmouth Alumni for Common Sense, has sent out a mass e-mail to all alumni of Dartmouth. 66,000 folks. In it, he claims that “it is incumbent” on all alumni to vote ‘yes’ on a constitution which has inspired much controversy and debate.

Ben Mitchell ‘96 puts it just perfectly in this e-mail:

OK, I’m sure you’ve received this both directly and indirectly, but I just have to forward Peter’s message (see below) anyway.

“It’s incumbent on all alumni to vote YES”? Hmmmm…

Here’s what Webster’s has to say about ‘incumbent’

Main Entry: 2 incumbent
Function: adjective
1 : imposed as a duty : OBLIGATORY
2 : having the status of an incumbent ; especially : occupying a specified office
3 : lying or resting on something else
4 : bent over so as to rest on or touch an underlying surface

I’m thinking he’s applying definition #1 here, which is more than a little insulting. In his opinion it’s obligatory that all alums vote yes? This is so open and shut that there can be no room for reasonable people to disagree? Curious…

Frankly I think this whole thing is more closely related to definition #2. Protecting incumbent members of the current Alumni leadership hegemony, and the philosophies they support, from upstart “outsiders” who seek to use democratic means to effect change.

Another e-mail of note, this one from Dave Hemmer ‘96:
I feel a little torn because as Dartmouth alumns we should welcome open debate and a democtratic process. To me though this process has become completely unseemly. Multiple phone calls to my house at dinner hour by paid callers. Emails from various groups who refuse to tell me how they got my contact information, particularly whether Dartmouth is providing this information. I believe I cast the first “no” vote on the new constitution mere seconds after the polls opened. Can everyone leave me alone now!
Were this whole thing a race for Senate, the lead stories in the papers this week would be about how the group which supports the constitution has decided to “go negative”.

There’s no Washington Post in little old Hanover, of course, but alumni seem to be coming to these conclusions by themselves.


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