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Professors to Vote Today on Folt Attempt to Limit Observers at Faculty Meetings

Here’s a curious issue. In my own experience and that of several faculty members, and as this space hase previously noted, Dartmouth faculty meetings have traditionally been open to everyone who is interested in attending them. The capacity of Alumni Hall is ample, the people in attendance — professors, students, administrators, journalists, alumni, members of the public — cordially intermingle in the seating area, and an atmosphere of respectful decorum has always prevailed.

The Folt interim administration has put on today’s meeting agenda a resolution to limit attendance at the meetings by non-faculty members to no more than 100 outsiders and oblige these observers to be seated in a separate area. The faculty will vote on the matter at today’s meeting at 3pm in Alumni Hall.

However, some members of the faculty note that this resolution is only boilerplate; that this type of restriction has been put in place in the past on a regular basis. They speak with a conviction equal to that of professors for whom this resolution is a new issue. Who to believe?

Faculty Meeting Rules1.jpg

It doesn’t matter. Let’s look at the issue ab initio. Do we really need such restrictions at meetings where issues of great moment to all of the College’s stakeholders are discussed and decided? I’d answer no, and I hope that members of the faculty vote accordingly. This is an excellent opportunity for them to register their support for the values of transparency and inclusiveness. There is no valid justification for these rules that I can think of. And you?

Addendum: A classmate comments on the proposed changes:

This is being done to exclude the inquiring press. I would vote against the whole package. What have we got to hide? Faculty discussions should be open to all College constituencies and observers should be admitted up to the limit of the room. If a sensitive matter arises (e.g. the treatment of a disciplinary case where privacy is required), we can go into executive session. This is a Stalinist set of rules.

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