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Dartmouth Undying:

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 alumni.relations@dartmouth.edu

Thank you again Dartmouth Alumni and please remember to vote beginning next month!!

Update:

Dartmouth undergraduate blogger Joe Malchow comments here.

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Tear Down This Wall:

As Scott Johnson notes this morning, the speech restrictions regarding the Dartmouth Trustee Elections are very strict. Which makes it all that more crucial that they be enforced in an even-handed manner.

Herewith the text of the email I sent to the Affairs Office and Alumni Council Ballot Committee this morning regarding the incident described in an earlier post:

I was surprised and disappointed to see the announcement in the "Speaking of Dartmouth" Electronic Newsletter last week that promoted the candidacies of the four official alumni candidates. Given that candidacy deadline does not close until this Wednesday Feb. 23, I believe that this announcement was premature, inappropriate, and very detrimental to the prospects of a fair election for the Dartmouth Board of Trustess. First, by referring to "the candidates" in the email announcement, this implies that the 4 candidates listed there will be the full slate of candidates. Second, this is very detrimental to my efforts in that any alumni who clicked through that link last week will be much less likely to do so with respect to any future announcements. Third, any future announcement regarding an updated slate of candidates will not only mention my candidacy but will inevitably also again promote the Alumni Council candidates; thus, this puts me at a permanent disadvatage.

To the extent that the College and Alumni Council insist on strict rules on communication with alumni during the election process, it is imperative that these rules be applied in an even-handed manner to all qualified candidates and that there is neither the appearance nor the acutal effect of favoring some candidates over another.

I believe that the announcement at this time was premature and fundamentally unfair to independent candidates and should have not been issued until the deadline for candidates was closed on Feb. 23.

As a result, I request that the College and the Alumni Council take the following steps to attempt to redress this situation:

First, I request the IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of the video by Karen McKeel Calby '81 endorsing the official Alumni Council nominees. This is a completely inappropriate advantage for the official candidates and there is simply no possible way for a qualified petition candidate to offset this advantage.

Second, I would like to request that the following to try rectify this unfair communication on behalf of the Alumni Council candidates. First, I would like express authorization to maintain my personal website for the duration of the balloting period, to provide alumni with an equal opportunity to discover and learn about my candidacy. Second, after I am qualified as an official candidate this week I would like a special email to be sent to all subscribers of "Speaking of Darmouth" that mentions my addition to the ballot and directs interested alumni to my personal website. I would request that this communication mention specifically that the prior email communication was premature and prior to the candidate deadline, and that the email that mentions my candidacy is being sent to provide all candidates with an equal playing field. It is important that this email mention only myself and any other petition candidates who qualify for the ballot, and does not exacerbate the situation by again directing alumni to the official Alumni website.

I believe this is a serious breach of the promise of a fair and open Trustee Election. If the College is going to impose speech restraints on Trustee candidates, it is imperative that those rules be applied in an even-handed manner and do not favor some candidates at the expense of others.

Update:

Comments by Dartmouth Students Joe Malchow and Nathaniel Ward.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Tear Down This Wall:
  2. Dartmouth Undying: