A count of my Trustee Elections petitions indicates that I have gained more than the 500 petitions (signed in non-black ink, of course) needed to qualify for the ballot for the Dartmouth Board of Trustee elections. My petitions will be delivered to the College today. A special thanks to all the Dartmouth Alumni who have taken the time to sign and return petitions.
The outpouring of support that I have received in this effort has been a truly gratifying experience. I have received signed petitions from alumni all across the range of classes--I believe that Class of '33 is the earliest vintage of alumni who have returned a petition. I have been especially struck by the enthusiasm from recent alumni, from the past 5 years or so, which I believe attests to the frustration level of current Dartmouth students and parents.
This has also been a deeply humbling experience. One alum apologized for his handwriting, noting that he is almost completely blind, yet wanted to return a petition. The handwriting on a petition from the Class of '38 was shaky, but back it came. Many alumni took the time to include long, thoughtful letters expressing their views on what is right and wrong about Dartmouth--I read all of those letters and found many of them to be both moving and insightful. Many others included short notes, from "Go Get 'Em" to "Bring Back Beta!".
This experience has reminded me what a deep sense of trust and obligation comes with being a member of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. The depth of loyalty and passion that Dartmouth alumni feel toward the College is fundamentally different from any other College in America. Can you imagine any other college or university in America where alumni would take the time to read a letter and sign a petition--for a perfect stranger--to be able to run for the Board of Trustees? And then taking the time to compose a note or letter to express their own thoughts about what can be done to improve Dartmouth?
Dartmouth is a special place, and serving on the Board is a sacred trust for the generations of alumni who have built and maintained that legacy. The Dartmouth experience has brought together students of many different backgrounds across the centuries and left its indelible stamp on each of them, and they have left their mark on the College. It pains me when Dartmouth's leadership turns its back on this legacy. If I am elected to the Board, I will work to improve Dartmouth and to pass this legacy on to future generations of Dartmouth alumni.
I am grateful for the support of the alumni who have signed petitions, and I hope that you, and your friends, will vote for me when the balloting begins next month.
As for me, Dartmouth's dislike of free speech applies not only to students, but apparently to alumni as well. Once I qualify as a candidate, I will come under the maddeningly vague rules governing campaigning (described in Scott Johnson's article today in the Weekly Standard On-Line). I am still not clear on what this means with respect to my communications with alumni. It may require me to take down my Dartmouth Trustee Election website, however, so I would encourage those who are interested to visit my website while you still have the opportunity. You will find not only do I have information about my goals for Dartmouth, but I have links to many Dartmouth articles of interest.
Of course, as with students as well, it appears that the College does not apply its restrictions on free speech in an even-handed manner. I notified the College last week that I had garnered sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot. Nonetheless, at the end of last week--after I notified them, and less than one week before the close of the deadline for candidates to qualify (Feb. 23)--the College sent out its electronic newsletter "Speaking of Dartmouth", which contained an advertisement for alumni to follow a link to "meet" the four candidates named by the Alumni Council.
Although petty, this little episode seems all too typical of the College's uneven attitude toward free speech on campus and efforts to manipulate the information provided to alumni. This is one of the reasons that my goals for Dartmouth include restoring the rights of free speech on campus and increasing the openness and transparency of College governance.
I have asked for an explanation from alumni affairs about this premature communication and will request equal time from the College, but of course, this is a uniquely detrimental and one-sided communication to an independent candidate like myself, in that any future announcements that include me will direct alumni to a website that will include all of the qualified candidates. Many of those who clicked through last week will have little interest in clicking through to the alumni candidate web page again. Would it have killed them to just hold off one more week to see if any other candidates qualified for the ballot before they sent their communication?
For alumni who may be interested in expressing your views on this or other matters of import regarding the election, the email address for Dartmouth Alumni Relations is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again Dartmouth Alumni and please remember to vote beginning next month!!
Dartmouth undergraduate blogger Joe Malchow comments here.