Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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Accountability Today, Democracy Tomorrow
As Mr. Malchow has already reported and opined, there is a movement within and around the College of William & Mary to allow alumni participation in selecting their board of trustees, and it is good. At this public university it is the Virginia state government that is responsible for the school ‘s charter or constitution, rather than the board and/or alumni. Currently the state governor appoints board members.
Coming out today was the news that W&M ‘s Board of Visitors opted not to renew the contract of President Gene Nichol, who subsequently resigned his post.
Dissatisfied alumni made up much of the constituency that prompted state legislators to consider changes to the structure of the College ‘s board and to which board members were responding in this decision. Most notably alumni were dissatisfied by Nichol ‘s decision to remove a cross from the alter of the College ‘s Wren Chapel. This unpopular decision followed others including abandoning the school ‘s Indian-themed logo, the use of racial preferencing in faculty hiring, and limits on free expression. On the last point, anecdotal examples including the shutting down of an anti-affirmative action bake sale and threatening participants with disciplinary action, as well as implementing a bias-reporting system thought by many to have a chilling effect on free speech.
In refusing to tolerate this unpopular president, the William & Mary board demonstrated accountability. This was a demonstration that they could listen and respond effectively to alumni concerns.
But the larger issue, in my mind, is whether an appointed board can always be counted upon to maintain the best interests of the college and the preferences of its alumni. In this case the state governor (i.e. a member of the Republican or Democratic party) appoints board members. Indeed anyone who appoints board members can be expected to bring their biases to the table. Only the full body of alumni (including perhaps current students) can make decisions that incorporate the full range of diversity and good sense for which a college stands. In this instance the W&M board should be lauded for their attention to accountability, but there is only one thing that can and will unfailingly ensure accountability in the future and that is democracy.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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