Give Students A Vote
In a public forum yesterday, Chairman of the Board of Trustees E. John Rosenwald, discussing the relationship between the Board and the students, said "We are running a store here and you are the customers."
With a yearly tuition of about $25,000, it is indisputable that students are paying for something. But is Rosenwald suggesting that students are valued only for their spending power and not for their capacity to provide input into the College's governing process?
A look at the process by which the Board is determined makes apparent the ideology behind Rosenwald's metaphor.
Alumni are allowed to select seven of the 16 Trustees. Seven others are appointed by the Board itself and two positions are reserved for the College President and the New Hampshire Governor.
Why must students wait until they receive their diplomas to have a say in the Board's composition?
By allowing alumni to select a portion of the Board of Trustees, the College purports to consider valuable the input of those whom Dartmouth has educated -- the people who have experienced Dartmouth and understand first-hand the intricacies of its culture and tradition.
But if the College were truly committed to this principle, it would grant current students this same power. After all, it is the undergraduates who are most directly influenced by the Trustees' decisions and it is the undergraduates who are most in touch with the current issues facing the campus.
Granted, the Trustees are not a representative body and student participation in the election process would not guarantee a greater opportunity to have student voices heard.
But to deny undergraduates the same rights granted to alumni is to deprive them of an equal status in the College community and to underestimate their ability to reasonably consider the long-term interests of the College.
The Board should allow undergraduates to vote jointly with the alumni to decide who runs the store.