August 22, 2006

The D's Editorial Board and Spalding Today

Responding to an accusation of intimidating a student and snooping in his email, Spalding says in today's D:
It is important to note that when Stork responded by BlitzMail that he could not attend the group meeting, he requested that we let him "know of any other opportunities to discuss," which indicated a mutual desire to meet. Stork later commented via BlitzMail that "While we disagree on some of the issues, I would really appreciate the opportunity to hear things from a different perspective." As he requested, we set up another meeting. Rex Morey, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Young Alumni and Students, attended all of the meetings; this was not a special instance.

Stork referenced a BlitzMail of his that I had and suggested that I improperly accessed his BlitzMail account. I will take this opportunity to reassure Stork and other students that we take student privacy concerning BlitzMail accounts very seriously, and that officers of the College do not have access to student accounts. I did have a BlitzMail with me during our conversation but I did not know that it was from Stork because it was anonymous. It had been forwarded to someone in my office from another student who had said that it was circulating widely on campus... I maintained a neutral stance on the constitution and simply explained the rationale on those issues given by members of the Alumni Governance Task Force, which drafted the proposal.
The D's Editorial Board flatly rejects this clarification:
The explanations Spalding offers are largely irrelevant. If an undergraduate walks out of a high-ranking administrator's office with even the impression that he was bullied into changing his views, then that administrator committed a grave error. It should compound our alarm that administrators appear to be taking sides on alumni governance reform, an issue on which they are stewards rather than active voices.
Spalding's answers are not, I think, irrelevant. The issue at stake, fundamentally, is whether alumni and students can trust the administration to be truthful, clear, and encouraging of participation. In my opinion, the impetus driving the backers of the Lone Pine Revolution is an immense distrust of the administration and not merely ideological disagreement(s) with its members. Ideological disagreements, even over something as productive of passion as the state and future of Dartmouth, do not need to end up in such a fine state as this. That takes distrust--loads of it. And if what Mr. Spalding says is true, then I think one has to temper the corrosiveness of that distrust at least a little bit.

Secondarily, while I think it is wrong of the administration to profess neutrality and then to speak up for the AGTF draft, I also think it is dumb of them to have professed neutrality in the first place. I'm not sure what they gain by it, and I don't think there is a reason why they should keep their opinions to themselves. They have every right to vocalize their beliefs about what is best for Dartmouth. Of course, the line is drawn when opinions become orders and are underwritten by Dartmouth money, but the contribution of their thoughts to what should be a dialogue is not out of line.

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