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Board-packing Slate Candidate, John Mathias ‘69, Opines

In his column in today’s issue of The Dartmouth, the Board-packing candidate for president of the Association of Alumni John Mathias ‘69, makes a number of statements well off the mark.

Mr. Mathias begins his column, admirably, by talking about the need to “focus on undergraduate education” and “administer highly complex operations wisely and efficiently” with “institutional vision and dynamic personality.” Mr. Mathias almost seemed to be running on the ideas of recently elected Trustee Stephen Smith ‘88.

In any event the opinion piece quickly went south. Mathias started up with the old refrain that the lawsuit is frivolous and divisive, the same position he evidently takes on Trustee elections. Frivolous? A New Hampshire Superior Court Judge has ruled that the lawsuit has merit on 3 separate counts? Divisive? What is divisive about supporting the right of alumni to vote? See here for how the Association of Alumni lawsuit can be brought to an end in 9 seconds.

Next, Mathias attempts to polarize the issue by contending that somehow The Dartmouth Review is linked with the lawsuit. This is a deliberate obfuscation of the issue, and not a very good one at that. Firstly the Review was hardly around in 1891 when the contract for Parity was made. More importantly, the democratic right of alumni to vote for 50% of the Board of Trustees is not in any respect a partisan issue.

Then Mathias turns to the cost of the lawsuit, which even according to his assuredly partisan figures, costs significantly less than the hair that occupied the library last spring and summer.

Finally Mathias attempts to promote the diversity of his slate, a woefully inadequate claim. There is simply no getting around the fact that opposition to democracy is an inherent affront to diversity. Democracy, which is to say the right of alumni to elect members of the Board of Trustees (or the A of A for that matter), means the ability to consider persons with all types of ideas and opinions and backgrounds for the positions. It is decidedly regressive to believe that diversity might come from a handful of trustees handpicking (or packing as the case might be) their successors in a smoke-filled backroom.

Mathias calls for unity, but if Dartmouth unified in his direction we would have serious problems. In addition to being unified, it is also probably a good idea to be right. And what better way to ascertain rightness than to have free and fair elections? That is exactly what this debate is about. The Board-packing slate wants all the trustees to think alike, to think like them. The Pro-parity slate wants to preserve the right of all Dartmouth alumni to give their input and opinions and suggestions and criticism through the democratic ballot box.

Further reading:

A breakdown of the lawsuit

Some thoughts in support of the lawsuit

An analysis of Parity

A little Board-packing satire


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