pageok
pageok
pageok
Washington on the Connecticut:

Voting on the Dartmouth constitution referendum runs until the end of the month. I haven't posted much on this but have received many emails from both Dartmouth and non-Dartmouth readers who have expressed ongoing interest in the issue. For those interested in what has been going on the past few weeks, here's a quick rundown:

Joe Malchow describes the extraordinary political efforts being expended by those campaigning in favor of the constitution, including repeated telemarketing calls, push-polling, and negative campaigning. Quite interesting.

TJ Rodgers responded to the substance of the negative charges in an op-ed "Intolerance of Difference" and another set of baseless charges in another op-ed.

Peter Robinson recounts the remarkable events surrounding this video posted on You Tube about the debate. And I see that a new video with a similar "Vote No" theme has gone up on You Tube. The new video is especially catchy.

Finally, in a poll of student opinion at Dartmouth, 63% of those students expressing an opinion on the alumni constitution opposed it, and a recent letter signed by 120 undergraduates and recent alumni also expressed opposition to it.

For those who still haven't voted, about 2 weeks remain before the deadline. To answer a common question that I have received--in order for the new constitution to be ratified in will have to receive 2/3 vote. For those still making up your mind, I would urge you to vote "No" and have expressed my reasons why here and here.

CJColucci:
Who was it who said "Academic politics are so vicious precisely because so little is at stake?" I've heard it attributed to Woodrow Wilson, but I've never been able to track it down.
10.16.2006 11:42am
Steve:
Maybe it's because I went to a huge Big Ten school, but I truly cannot fathom this level of obsession over the "structure of alumni governance," or whatever the appropriate buzzword is. It's just nuts.
10.16.2006 11:49am
Jiffy:

It's just nuts.


I agree. And I'm a Dartmouth alum.
10.16.2006 12:03pm
neurodoc:
Who was it who said "Academic politics are so vicious precisely because so little is at stake?" I've heard it attributed to Woodrow Wilson, but I've never been able to track it down.
I don't know who first said it, and it may have been that that unnamed "wag" who has said so many clever things over the course of time. A famous person who surely was not the first to say it, but who has been quoted as saying (repeating?) it is Henry Kissinger.
10.16.2006 12:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Who was it who said "Academic politics are so vicious precisely because so little is at stake?"

I think it was Henry Kissinger
10.16.2006 12:35pm
Colorado Steve (mail):
Josef Stalin is supposed to have said, "It's not the people who vote that count; it's the people who count the votes"

A question for those who oppose the new constitution. Who is counting the votes?
10.16.2006 12:59pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Steve,

If you want to imagine it, just think about football at a Big 10 school and transfer the obsession over to academia.
10.16.2006 2:11pm
Steve:
That's an interesting point. I'll stick with football.
10.16.2006 2:16pm
Walker White (mail):
I voted immediately within getting my PIN (I voted online through the new system).

The official stuff I have gotten from Dartmouth has been ridiculously one-sided. On the web page for the vote, they have a pro-statement for the new constitution with no rebutals. For the other amendments, they post rebutals. And these rebutals say ridiculous things like "Robert's Rules of Order are too complicated because they are so long" (page length is not a sign of complexity guys; complexity is how often the exception cases come up).

What gets me is this: who do they think cares enough to cast a vote either way, but is naive enough to be caught by this type of marketing.
10.16.2006 3:38pm
Waldensian (mail):
The whole thing reminds me of a fight between rival factions of a neighborhood association's architectural control committee. Back when I dwelled in the 'burbs, I saw otherwise normal people almost come to blows over the proper configuration for fences and the appropriate surface for driveways. Glad to live in the slums now.

Previously I felt that Dartmouth's ceaseless debate over meaningless matters was merely boring and inane. Now I find myself strangely drawn to it. It's sort of like watching Eric Cartman's sea monkeys in episode 607 of South Park. And we know what happened to them....
10.16.2006 3:52pm
Evan (mail) (www):
Given the over handed tactics of the administration, if the vote is in favor of the new Constitution, how trust-worthy will that result be?
10.16.2006 5:58pm
great unknown (mail):
So far unanswered question: who is financing the pro-new-constitution marketing?
10.16.2006 7:14pm
Automatic Caution Door:
During the past couple of months, no single topic has injected more tedium and minutiae into the blogs I regularly read than this inane Dartmouth junk. Christ, enough already. It's inside-baseball, and surely 99.9 percent of the readership doesn't care.

(Insert boilerplate acknowledgement that no blogger owes anybody anything, it's "free ice cream," etc.)
10.17.2006 11:30am
neurodoc:
During the past couple of months, no single topic has injected more tedium and minutiae into the blogs I regularly read than this inane Dartmouth junk. Christ, enough already. It's inside-baseball, and surely 99.9 percent of the readership doesn't care.

I am among the .1% who do care, believing that school governance is far more consequential than ephemera like football (or baseball, from the inside or outside). Just as outside directors are supposed to safeguard the interests of shareholders against excessive, unchecked control by insider corporate officers, so to should school trustees protect the interests of all stakeholders against excessive, unchecked control by the administration and faculty. A school's interests are better served by independent trustees than by ones effectively selected by those they are supposed to
oversee.

Those who are uninterested in these matters can easily enough skip over TZ's posts about them, and there is certainly no requirement that they participate in any discussions. (Dartmouth does not have a law school, but these discussions could pertain to ones that do, such as Georgetown, where the last dean rallied the alumni to resist the president's attempt to take from the law school's coffers for the university's larger purposes.)
***

Maybe it's because I went to a huge Big Ten school, but I truly cannot fathom this level of obsession over the "structure of alumni governance," or whatever the appropriate buzzword is. It's just nuts.

Most of the schools in the Big Ten are public institutions (not Northwestern, which somehow managed a national championship a decade or so ago), while Dartmouth is a private institution. Public vs private makes a huge difference here. With the former, alumni are of lesser consequence except as possible donors and as school boosters. Where public colleges/universities are concerned, it is generally governors who make appointments and legislatures which appropriate funds, with courts occasionally weighing in on certain matters (e.g., affirmative action admissions; free speech). With private colleges/universities, governors and legislatures are largely irrelevant, and courts are rarely involved. So, with private institutions, the role of alumni through trustees is at least potentially much greater in determining a schools course. (At Harvard, Larry Summers was ousted not because alumni or students wanted to see him go, but because one faculty, Arts &Sciences, were against him. It will be interesting to see what happens at Gallaudet, where the students are agitating against the incoming president.)
10.17.2006 12:17pm
neurodoc:
So far unanswered question: who is financing the pro-new-constitution marketing?

I too wondered that. If the administration and/or their supporters are dipping directly into school or alumni accounts to promote one side over the other, then there is still greater corruption involved. ("Follow the money trail.")
10.17.2006 12:26pm
Automatic Caution Door:
I am among the .1% who do care, believing that school governance is far more consequential than ephemera like football (or baseball, from the inside or outside).

Believe me -- I'd be just as vexed if my favorite blogs were suddenly clogged with posts about the esoterica of some football team's game strategies.

(Insert boilerplate acknowledgement that no blogger owes anybody anything, it's "free ice cream," etc.)
10.17.2006 12:39pm
neurodoc:
Automatic Caution Door, I really don't understand, especially since it is so easy to skip based any post by one of these bloggers that isn't of interest to you. Why bother going to the "comment" page to tell those of us who think it a worthy topic for consideration/discussion that you see nothing but "tedium and minutiae" in this? No trees are being sacrificed and the other bloggers are not being denied the opportunity to blog as they see fit. If TZ posts about what is going on at Dartmouth are a distraction to you, why distract yourself further by participating, if that is what you are doing, here?
10.17.2006 3:17pm
neurodoc:
correction of typo: that should have been "easy to skip past"
10.17.2006 3:18pm
skeptical:
Did Peter Robinson mean "If a weaker claim for a trademark violation ever existed, I am unaware of it"? The phrase "vox clamantis in deserto" seems a little short to copyright.

And aren't all of these supposedly negative effects of campaigning — "a professionally managed campaign: slick mass mailings, pre-recorded telephone messages, even a telephone 'push-poll' to thousands of Dartmouth alumni" — exactly the results the renegades/complainers should have expected when they sought to remove the limits on trustee campaigns? Are these things unacceptable when they relate to a constitution but desirable when they relate to a candidate?
10.17.2006 4:58pm
Fub:
neurodoc wrote:
No trees are being sacrificed ...
Typical veiled anti-elementary particle bias from the biochemically organized elite. Think of all the poor electrons and photons sacrificed so that so-called "life forms" can chit-chat.
10.17.2006 11:12pm
neurodoc:
Fub, what happens to those "poor electrons" you say are being "sacrificed" for the sake of our chit-chat? I thought they might be dislodged from whatever orbit they were traveling in, but they were indestructible. (And we never know precisely where any one of them is at any time, do we?) Trees, on the other hand, are easily and often destroyed, that is converted to some combination of different matter and/or energy, are they not?
10.18.2006 2:58am
Fub:
neurodoc wrote:
Fub, what happens to those "poor electrons" you say are being "sacrificed" for the sake of our chit-chat? I thought they might be dislodged from whatever orbit they were traveling in, but they were indestructible. (And we never know precisely where any one of them is at any time, do we?)
Forced relocation and breaking up families isn't bad enough? And they aren't indestructible. Yet nobody cares enough about them to find out where they are.
Trees, on the other hand, are easily and often destroyed, that is converted to some combination of different matter and/or energy, are they not?
Trees aren't innocents in this carnage either. They move electrons around constantly, forcing them to find new neuclei to bind to. Some of the biochemically organized elite even treat them like sex objects and write love songs about it.

But you're right. That's not as awful as putting them into those hideous particle colliders that turn them into quark soup or something.
10.18.2006 4:45am