A Change in Structure

by Kelley Fead | 11/10/03 6:00am

To the Editor:

Thanks for covering an important story on alumni governance and trustee nominations ("Conflict Marks Alumni Proposal," Nov. 4).

For more than two years, alumni have been wonderfully vocal about these topics in 15 forums around the country and in Hanover as well as in response to mass emails, letters, phone calls, articles in "Dartmouth Life," a dedicated Web bulletin board and more.

Their message? Give us a governance system that is simple and highly representative. Make our preferences in nominating alumni trustees clear. Strengthen the voice of alumni to the betterment of the College.

That's what the proposed alumni constitution is all about.

William Tell '56, who has been involved in four unsuccessful governance-related lawsuits against the College and/or the Association of Alumni, may not be happy with the proposal, but he's been highly involved in the process. Indeed, the final document reflects some of his points.

If adopted, the new constitution would provide for a 62,000-member Alumni Association governed by a 122-member Council, most of whose members would be elected by classes, clubs and affiliated groups. For the first time, all alumni would have an opportunity to vote for at-large Council representatives. With 50 signatures, any alum could put himself or herself on the ballot. The Council, even more than it is today, would become a forum for alumni sentiment, with diversity of age, geography, ethnicity, religion and political viewpoints.

This isn't some complicated new structure. It quite elegantly reflects what was envisioned when the Association founded the Council in 1913 and handed over almost all of its responsibilities. The two groups were separated in the 1980's -- the new constitution would reunite them to bring the representative body closer to its constituents.

The leaders of the Council and Association, plus many class and club leaders, have endorsed this plan. The time has come for alumni to vote at noon, Saturday, Dec. 6, in Alumni Hall (under the existing constitution, voting must be in person). Final ratification would be by an all-alumni mail and Internet vote in April 2004. Please vote yes for Dartmouth.