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Rebutting False Claims

Dartmouth trustee Peter Robinson appears in The Wall Street Journal this morning, to defend against factually incorrect charges from constitution drafter John Daukas. The WSJ site is, of course, pay-only, so here is the text of the letter:

Dartmouth Constitution: A Concern for the Future

To deal with just three of the errors and misleading assertions in J.B. Daukas’s Oct. 25 Letter to the Editor “Dartmouth’s Fight Over New Alumni Constitution”:

Item: Mr. Daukas carefully plucked several provisions out of context to create the impression that the proposed constitution would enlarge, not diminish, the role of the alumni in college governance. I invite readers to peruse the document for themselves, noting in particular that instead of mandating two-person trustee races — a provision that appears nowhere — it would allow a nominating committee to set the field of candidates just as it wished. Q.E.D.

Item: Mr. Daukas claimed that the three petition trustees — T.J. Rodgers, Todd Zywicki and I — refused to cooperate with the task force that drafted the proposed constitution. Nonsense. All three of us communicated with the task force in writing — Mr. Rodgers repeatedly — explaining that we would support any new constitution that respected the petition mechanism and preserved the democratic rights of alumni. What we refused to do was accept Mr. Daukas’s later invitations to open back-channel negotiations.

Item: Mr. Daukas claimed that the Alumni Council endorsed the new constitution unanimously. This is untrue. One member, Bill Carney, voted to reject the document. “Those who fear giving too much democracy to the alumni,” Mr. Carney explained, “do not give them enough credit for being intelligent, reasonable and concerned for the well-being of the college and its students.”

Intelligent, reasonable and concerned for the well-being of the college. That certainly comports with my own experience with Dartmouth alumni. For the good of the institution we all love, I urge them to reject the undemocratic new constitution.

Peter Robinson
Dartmouth Class of 1979
Palo Alto, Calif.

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