Assembly President Moore '95 resigns

by Yvonne Chiu | 11/14/94 6:00am

With her hair pulled back and her face buried under a black wool NAD baseball cap, all Student Assembly President Danielle Moore '95 could say was how tired she felt.

Tired of calling last-minute emergency meetings, tired of harassing members to show up, tired of people walking out as she spoke, tired of the shouting and the bickering, tired of petting egos and soothing hurt feelings, tired of worrying about the Assembly's negative image -- Moore was simply tired of playing politician when she would rather be playing activist.

Admittedly, her frustration stems from naivete and from not knowing how to play politics. "I'm not in it to strategize," she said. "I thought this would be a good forum to act on my beliefs."

Last night, after the Assembly Executive Committee convened for the term, Moore held a press conference announcing her resignation. She spent the weekend debating the choice to step down. Administrators including Dean of the College Lee Pelton and Dean of Student Life Holly Sateia asked her to stay on, to think about it during winter break. Fear that nothing would change over break, that her silence would do more harm than good, Moore made a statement.

She said by staying, she was sending a message to women in the Assembly that they must tolerate disrespect.

But considering the Assembly's recent history, Moore's resignation should not be all that surprising; in some ways, it has less to do with her style of leadership than the legacy she has been left with.

Part of the problem lies within the new constitution. In the past, Assembly presidents had the power to nominate students who were not General Assembly members to the Executive Committee -- which guaranteed a cabinet stacked with students committed to working toward the goals set forth by the president.

But when last year's Assembly President Nicole Artzer '94 tried to make such appointments to her Executive Committee, a member of the conservative political group called Reform SA! called it unconstitutional. An ad-hoc committee, which eventually invalidated Artzer's appointments, was formed and a constitutional committee was created to rewrite the rules.

The current constitution, which was drafted and passed almost a year ago, does not allow presidential appointments. It limits the president to nominating members, who then need the approval of the Nominations Committee, whose members are elected from within the Assembly.

Artzer was powerless to vote down the constitution that aimed to strip her and all future Assembly presidents' power. The General Assembly consisted mainly of conservative members who were elected on a slate called Reform SA!. They had won 15 of the 21 Assembly seats in the spring of 1993.

The current constitution undoubtedly empowers the General Assembly at the president's expense. Although the constitution may seem more democratic, it also lends itself to being used as a divisive tool, forcing the Assembly into stalemates -- which is exactly what it was intended to do.

Prior to Artzer's election, a definite liberal leadership ran the Assembly: beginning with Brian Ellner '92, to Tara McBennett '92 to Andrew Beebe '93, conservatives were left out of the power positions.

But Ellner's presidency was not viewed as liberal when he was elected in the spring of 1990. It was seen as a return to moderacy from the conservative image The Dartmouth Review had placed on campus. The paper had been disrupting the campus with editorial attacks against Music Professor Bill Cole and Sociology Professor Deborah King, both African-Americans.

Later that year, near the end of Ellner's presidency, an excerpt from Hitler's Mein Kemp was printed in The Review's credo, bringing Dartmouth negative national attention.

The media labeled Dartmouth as plagued with racial tension and arch-conservatism. The "Fiske Guide to Colleges" devoted more than a page describing the bitter strife on campus and an in-depth article in The Boston Globe described Dartmouth as a campus without diversity.

In response to the negative media attention, more than 2,500 administrators, professors and students congregated on the Green in a rally titled "Dartmouth United Against Hate," to articulate that The Review does not represent the views of the Dartmouth community.

The desire of the student body to disassociate itself from conservative elements, helped carry McBennett into office. Ellner's Assembly also improved student services, fighting to extend reserve corridor hours past midnight.

McBennett also avoided politics and focused on student services, such as creating the popular Friday Night Dance Club, a late-night alternative to the Greek party scene.

But when Beebe, McBennett's vice president, came into office and called for the co-education of the Greek system at his Convocation address, a conservative backlash occurred.

Stewart Shirasu '94 running on a pro-Greek, conservative platform won the presidency in the spring of 1993. There was campus-wide fear that if another liberal president won, the Greek system would dissolve. But because of accusations of overspending on his campaign, Shirasu resigned. In a second election, Artzer, a moderate, won.

But conservative members secured the majority of Assembly seats. Throughout Artzer's presidency, the Assembly was plagued with internal turmoil, erupting in her near impeachment.

Kept out of the presidency and vice presidency for so long, it was only natural that the power structure was changed so the General Assembly can check the power of the presidency. But the check can also create deadlock, which is what the campus has been witnessing for the past two years.

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