Dartlog weighed in today on the AGTF's updated justification of their policy concerning minority representation on the Alumni Council (or is it the Alumni Assembly? I honestly can't keep these things straight).
Dartlog's Nat Ward characterizes the defense as "rather nonsensical" and breaks it up into four sections: affirmative action, fear of offending minorities, minority participation, and fundraising. Let me stress that these are Nat's category break-downs and are not present in a natural form in the AGTF's post.
For the first two, I think I made a halfway decent argument giving reasons why the proposed changes will likely not have severe anti-democratic effects. I don't feel the argument from "patent unfairness" holds much water if it can't offer specific practical reasons why that "patent unfairness" will actually result in a greater burden on the workings of democracy in the Alumni Council/Assembly. Taking up the other two points, I'll argue why the AGTF's plan might work in increasing participation and fundraising.
Adding a representative to the Alumni Council, as I've said before, will not have a huge impact, I think, on the way things are decided, but it may have a significant impact on the way people involve themselves with the College. If, as a general alum and not a representative, you have two or more people who represent you on the Council, you have double the chances of getting your opinion seriously considered by someone who has voting power. This does not necessarily mean that you will be much more likely to have twice the number of people voting for your ideas, but it certainly does mean you may have twice the number of people listening to you. Think of it as the broadening of a funnel's mouth, without a significant broadening of its spout. The capacity of the funnel's intake is thereby increased, though it's output (at least as a function of time) is not greatly magnified.
So what you now have is a lot more opinion, participation, passion, and energy going into the Alumni Council but, I would argue, few or no changes on the inside of the Council that would be destructive to democratic functions. The Review throws around the term "corporatist" as if it were the antonym of democratic--the US Congress depends enormously on our affiliations to various sorts of groups, the lobbies of different companies, etc. just to function, and, despite people like Duke Cunningham, I'd say American democracy functions alright. The difference is that here the corporatism would be institutionalized, but I'm unconvinced that this will be the doom of democracy at Dartmouth.
Adding representatives would not just be a way to increase (or create) the perception that Dartmouth cares about the opinions of minorities, it would be a way to actually encourage them to get involved.
The question that must be asked, of course, is "why just minorities? Who wouldn't benefit from extra representation?" Well, Bill Hutchinson expressed his belief in an LGB comment that there is simply more room for growth there. Minority participation, he says, is low not only because of a perception problem that minority participation is more or less unwanted, but also because the main way many interact with other Dartmouth alums is through their affiliated group, not through class ties. Therefore, increasing the ability of affiliated groups to actually involve and encounter their members will have a direct correlation with the number of people who will begin or increase their participation. There simply is not (yet, at least) the demand nor the conditions among other interest groups--such as sports teams--for increased participation. However, starting with affiliated groups might indeed start the DOC or the men's hockey team or whatever to demand representation, energize their members, and get new people involved. If this be controversy, let us make the most of it!
There are important reasons to disagree with the AGTF, I allow--I'm just trying to give the best argument why the AGTF's plan might work. (The fundraising point would work out much the same, ideally--more representatives --> larger funnel mouth --> more $). The argument, it must be stressed, is not that this plan or idea is perfect or even great. It's simply a strategy to get more people involved, and it may not work. But unless it seriously harms the way our College is governed, it's worth some serious thought.