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‘Report from the Ground’ Corrected With Facts from the Ground

In today’s issue of The Dartmouth, religion professor Susan Ackerman ‘80 opines on the alumni responses to the Board-packing plan. I think that professors should certainly play a vital role in the debate over the future of Dartmouth, just as students and alumni should. This is not a given, indeed this is what the whole debate is about (the right to vote (parity) versus the loss of alumni voting power (board-packing). Yet I think a few of Professor Ackerman’s points need further elaboration.

1. The title of her column (which admittedly was likely not written by Ackerman herself, but still) implicitly claims that the information below represents some sort of empirical valid or at least experientially substantiated fact pattern. But I don’t know that Ackerman has seen the banner student rejection log, flurry of instructor permission card stresses at the start of each term, or sat in on a Government or Economics class lately. Students are still shut out of courses, class sizes are still large in many departments, and the number of faculty have grown little, if at all over the past few years, especially compared to the size of the administrative bureaucracy. See a full and referenced validation of these facts, by students, professors, and data here.

2. Nobody wants to be in court! But as I have written,

The lawsuit could be stopped in 9 seconds! I timed it. All it would take is a phone call from Board of Trustees chairman Ed Haldeman to the Association of Alumni that said: €œWe are going to honor the 1891 contract giving alumni the right to elect 50% of the Board: Parity. We are going to stop the Board-packing scheme.

3. Ackerman expresses fears of “turning back the clock.” In this context I wonder what could be more regressive and more backwards and more dated than curbing democracy and the right of the class of 2008 and all other alumni, past and future, to vote! A very long time ago we operated on the principles of kings and dictators who would appoint themselves and their cronies. If anything is “turning back the clock” it most certainly is not democracy.


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