The Hanover Institute
  Non-Profit Organization of Dartmouth Alumni, by Dartmouth Alumni and for Dartmouth Alumni  

 

 

 

 

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Statement on the 2009
Dartmouth College alumni election


The 2009 Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College election is underway. There are two items on the ballot.

New Amendment

The establishment leadership of the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College(A of A) has proposed an amendment to the Association࣯nstitution that would change the procedures for the election of alumni trustees to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. That amendment is on the ballot which will soon be available to all alumni.

An open letter to alumni posted on the A of A website and signed jointly by John Mathias, President of the Association, and John Daukas, President of the Alumni Council, describes the intent and effect of the proposed amendment as follows:

With this amendment, the Alumni Council will first nominate either one or two candidates for each vacancy. Assuming, based on consistent recent history, that at least one petition candidate will thereafter also be nominated, we expect that this procedure will promote head to head elections. Alumni will cast only one vote for each vacancy according to the familiar, well-understood one person/one vote procedure. If there are three or more candidates for any one vacancy and no one receives an absolute majority of the votes cast, there will be a runoff election between the top two vote getters, thereby assuring that the winner will receive a majority of the votes cast.

Mathias and Daukas go on to say that, 堳incerely believe the amendment will simplify, clarify, and strengthen the election process.쯦ont>

We question this statement. The existing electoral system, so-called approval voting (in which all candidates run as a group for all open alumni trustee positions, and voters may vote for as many candidates as are running, with the highest vote winners taking the honors), has served the alumni and the College very well in the past.

In spite of much talk by the establishment in days past decrying the ﬩ticization裂the Dartmouth election processes, this new amendment, with its new requirement that alumni must run for a particular vacancy, would make the elections much more political and personal. In a multi-vacancy situation, no longer will alumni be able to pick the best two candidates from the whole pool of candidates running but will be forced to pick alumni based on what particular vacancy they are running for.

We acknowledge that there is a perception, fanned by the administration and its supporters, that the existing system somehow gives 崩tion㡮didates an advantage over candidates of the Establishment. Actually, all advantage lies with the Establishment candidates.

Nevertheless, we recognize that this perception exists 튉even though not well-founded ᮤ that it has been used to foster a notion of unfairness in the process. If the proposed constitutional amendment eliminates the point of contention without creating some new problem, it may well be a suitable resolution.

A major problem with the new amendment is its presentation to the alumni as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. As everyone knows, the Board of Trustees is attempting to coerce a favorable vote by attempting to freeze all alumni trustee elections and hand over the whole election process to the administration unless and until these changes are adopted.

Unfortunately, the Association஥wly-elected y slate衶e done nothing to protest the Board൮just behavior (which is a violation, not only of the 1891 Agreement, but also of the independence of the Association in the years leading up to it.).

Despite the Board੭proper interference with our electoral process, the Hanover Institute declines to advocate the defeat of the proposed constitutional amendment. The simple fact is that the Hanover Institute and its alumni supporters have never objected to reasonable revisions of the alumni trustee election process, and do not do so now. More reforms need to be adopted to ensure free and fair elections, and we support them- we always have and always will. We registered strenuous objection toalumni defeated--the earlier attempts in 2005 to place obstacles in the way of petition trustee elections. Again today, we object to the present actions of the Board threatening to take away the Association's right to make its own rules.

Given our mixed response to the nature and circumstances of this amendment, the Hanover Institute takes no position on its ratification. But we are not indifferent. We trust alumni will examine its merits and its background and cast an intelligent vote.

When the results are in, the Hanover Institute will do whatever it can to see to it that the Board of Trustees accepts the will of the alumni and, in accordance with whatever is then the form of the Association of Alumni constitution, lifts its arbitrary freeze on alumni trustee vacancies and allows resumption of democratic elections. We remain constant in our struggle to ensure that the next election will see restoration of PARITY between the trustees elected by the alumni and the trustees self-appointed by the Board.

Association of Alumni leadership 쥣tion羚nt>

Now let us discuss the second matter: the lack of a true election for new officers of the Association of Alumni. No independent 崩tion㡮didates are running, so there will be no choice for alumni on the ballot. The slate appearing on the ballot is the establishment slate, hand-picked by itself. This is the exact same group that, in its very first action, subverted the fight for parity by withdrawing the Dartmouth alumni lawsuit and asking the court to dismiss it with prejudice. As it was the lawsuit alone that had powerfully restrained the board of trustees of Dartmouth College from making appointments to fill the eight new seats it created in abrogation of the 1891 Agreement, your ability as alumni to influence the Collegeయlicies was placed in immediate jeopardy.

This slate does not deserve a vote of endorsement.

 


 

Last Updated:  Thursday March 26, 2009
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