August 17, 2009

John Mathias ’69, champion of poor, hopeless trustee candidates

In Friday's issue of The D, the anti-trustee-parity party, through the mouthpiece of AoA President John Mathias ’69, once again defended trustee authoritarianism. Here are the more disingenuous arguments he advances:

A. Money spent in trustee/alumni elections should instead be spent on the college.
The escalating cost of elections is cause for “grave concern” in the future, he said. “It’s a huge amount of money to be diverted from other uses, including, but not limited to, money given to Dartmouth,” he said. “If you’re inclined to spend money at all, I would certainly rather direct it to Dartmouth College than to the U.S. Postal Service [to send promotional campaign material] or vendors to make phone calls for you.”
Mathias assumes that the person holding the office is immaterial. If it doesn't matter who wins in an election, why don't we just pick the cheapest candidate and donate the rest of the money to Dartmouth!? In reality, democracy is a method of contest between differing ideological groups, the results of which should have consequences. Mathias's opponents, what is left of the pro-parity faction, do give generously to Dartmouth, but as evidenced through their financing of the petition trustee elections, they are more than willing to shell out a lot more if their donations give them a say in how Dartmouth is run. Much of the administration would rather alumni just write five-figure checks and then shut the fuck up. But to ignore their input will only serve to alienate as we saw with the immediate decrease in alumni giving after Haldeman pulled a troop of unelected trustees out of his ass and packed them onto the board.

B. Money shouldn't have a role in shaping election outcomes.
“Should the next trustee candidate have to spend $50,000 of their own money or $100,000 of their own money to have any chance of winning?” Mathias said
This would make a lot of sense if it wasn't for the fact that the nominated candidates have tremendous advantages in the resources (e.g. mailing lists) given to them by the administration. And it would make a lot of sense if it didn't therefore lead to a vain popularity contest since unknown but committed alumni have no way to break into politics without spending money to get their names out there. And it'd make a lot of sense if it wasn't for the fact that appointed trustees get their positions precisely because they donate tons of money to the school. Actually, scratch that... that point doesn't make any sense.

C. A committee will use polls to see what the alumni want and go from there. Just look at how neutral our questions are!:
“Should candidates in alumni trustee and/or [the Association’s Executive Committee] elections have to raise or spend a substantial amount of money campaigning to have any realistic chance of winning,” the survey asks.
Trustee T.J. Rogers easily sees through this bull shit.
“I think this [questionnaire] is designed to prevent the problem unfairly, and the reaction is going to be the one they’ve rigged the question to produce,” Rodgers said. “That’s the part of this that’s dishonest.”
So thank you Mr. Mathias for standing up for all those poor, hopeless Ivy-League-trustee aspirants who by only some strange coincidence share your political ideology. How selfless.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have any evidence that Dartmouth makes its mailing list available to AC nominees but not petition nominees?

    The phrase "unelected trustee" is not very accurate. I assume you mean to refer to the charter trustees, so maybe you should use the real term, as the "parity" lawsuit did.

    Do you think you are a little inaccurate to characterize the board as a "democracy" to which political candidates are elected, in the manner (it is implied) of a civic government? I tend to think of the board as a private corporation that generally appoints its own members -- pretty undemocratic, and not supposed to resemble a city government at all.

    Are you sure the D is correct when it says the mailed questionnaire is the same thing as the letter that was posted to the AoA blog? It might be, but the letter doesn't look like a questionnaire to me. It looks like a letter announcing a new committee and giving it things to do.