Candidates Should be Neutral

by Frank Gado | 10/12/05 5:00am

To the Editor:

Geoff Bronner advises "alumni to read the proposal themselves and not rely on someone else's interpretation," and I agree that "it deserves thoughtful consideration and an informed debate" ("Approaching the Alumni Constitution," Oct. 5). But who is abridging such discussion and debate? Not those in opposition.

College publications steadily mention the new constitution in favorable terms. But when I asked the head of the Dartmouth Alumni Council to support giving opponents access to the same forums, Mr. Routhier refused. I assure Mr. Bronner that I will gladly co-sign any letter urging that all sides be provided the means to state their arguments.

Mr. Bronner's second contention ("the constitutional reform ... began before the recent election of petition candidates to the Board") is disingenuous: actually, the struggle between "establishment" and "anti-Hanoverian" alumni dates to the mid-19th century. Recent hindrance to democratic participation of alumni traces to petition trustee candidate John Steel's election. That "the administration" has not been best pleased by petitioners' successes is hardly a secret. Although I know of no Parkhurst directives on this question, the insertion of a member of the administration into alumni governing councils in 1996 was plainly not a neutral move. Repeated public pronouncements on various petition candidacies by administration officers also underscore partisanship. If "College officials did not write this proposal," the College's attorney indisputably wrote the constitutional changes of a decade ago -- rather well beyond "assisting with the logistics."

In a related piece, Joe Stevenson claims the proposed reform eliminates the petition candidates' unfair campaign advantage. In fact, restrictions on campaign statements emphatically tilt the table in favor of the anointed candidates; petitioners have merely explained the reasons for their candidacies in the process of gathering petitions. The solution to the "inequity:" ungag the candidates, both before and after placement on the ballot.

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