May 28, 2006

What the hell is going on?

I'm not sure why Joe continues to title his posts about alumni conflicts using Mozart arias, but I suppose that's not exactly relevant. (If someone can enlighten me, I'll be immensely grateful.)

What is relevant (I suppose) is that the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association has cancelled the elections scheduled to be held during Homecoming Weekend 2006 for some time in the first half of 2007. The link above has a full analysis of the actual events, but Joe sums it up thus in a previous post: "The current people in charge have decided not to put their own offices up for a vote." Joe points out quite rightly that this wouldn't be too terrible if this were a regular year, but alums will be voting on the Constitution (which was approved over Green Key), and that constitution will change many things. (I cover them a bit in this DFP editorial.)

My feeling, as I sketched out in my editorial, is that I really don't care about the democraticness of alumni affairs for any intrinsic reason—I could honestly care less how they elect, or are prevented from electing, new leaders of the Alumni Association or the Alumni Liaison Board or whatever. My problem with all of these shenanigans is that it will make alums think that there is something worth shenaniganning about in all this muddle. (And maybe there is, I don't know.) This will only provoke alums to start intruding further and further into actual College affairs and not just their little AlumniWorld, which I assume is full of khakis and blazers, trophy wives, and open bars. (Hey, that sounds nice actually...) At any rate, I don't want alums groping for control or more input; I don't think they should have it and I think the effort to get it will be bad for students and for faculty.

A college is perhaps the only type of institution where rule by the workers is both a viable and a good idea. If alums start crowding in, we, the workers—the students and the faculty, aren't going to get the chance to bear this out.


  1. Anonymous3:47 AM

    Ah Andrew, you bright-eyed youth, you young idealistic Dartmouth undergrad you. Dartmouth does not exist *for* you, the student. It exists to educate you, the student. And trust me, the least likely people on the face of the earth to know how to do that best are you, the students! I was once like you, but now I am a Dartmouth alum, and I have actually had to make my way in the world, and I probably do know a thing or two about how one might go about being prepared for such an experience.

    The whole Constitution thing may seem like a tempest in a teapot, but it does have some significance. For one thing, if you, as you say, are not fond of the conservative political movement in this country, you nevertheless must look enviously at that movement's ability to speak (however brainlessly) with one voice, and elevate minor issues into rallying cries. Progressives and liberals, on the other hand, are by their very nature tolerant of many viewpoints, and the resulting cacaphony is no match for the clear, still voice of the issue-driven conservative. Well, the same holds true for alumni politics, and we saw it in the last trustee election.

    Why should students care? Because the vast majority of alumni want to see Dartmouth remain at the forefront of education and provide an amazing experience for its students; an experience that isn't necessarily the same one we had, but is appropriate for the times. A minority would rather Dartmouth espouse only their own values, but that minority is able to speak with one voice. Even those who have worked hard within the system since graduation would admit that they are not able to truly represent the majority of alumnni. Alumni do have a say in how Dartmouth works, and despite the appearance of democratic principles at work in the current process, the reality is different, and the process can be made more fair. This Constitution was crafted with input from all sides, including groups that were very much opposed to earlier versions. It is not designed to be broadly democratic, but it is designed to be more truly representative, and that is a good thing.

    Alumni don't need or want more power; they want the influence they already have to better reflect the broader alumni experience. And that too, is a good thing.

  2. Anonymous9:42 PM