Saturday, April 16, 2005

Trustee Election in the Weekly Standard

An article in the next print edition of the Weekly Standard explains why alumni should support alumni Trustee petition candidates Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88. Voting continues until May 6th.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"yes to improving academic life for Dartmouth undergrads"

What does that mean? Do some candidates not want to improve academic life for Dartmouth undergrads?

Mike Lorrey said...

If you strictly control their speech and thought, one would think that would seriously deteriorate academic life for Dartmouth undergrads.

commenter said...

And what does this mean?

"But it's hardly a vibrant democracy. Ordinarily, the alumni council assembles the full docket of alumni nominees for every election."

What's undemocratic about alumni being the ones to nominate the alumni who will fill the spots reserved for alumni?

(And on another topic, why should a self-selecting corporate board be democratic anyway? It has never been democratic, and even now the trustees don't have to accept any of the people that the body of alumni vote to nominate, whether one of the candidates proposed by the Council or one of the "insurgents" proposed by petition. Both groups seem to be nominees to the board even after they have won the election by alumni.

The trustees have probably never rejected one, though.)

Anonymous said...

The article skirts a key assumption, which is that "speech codes" (admittedly a pejorative phrase, but still not one that explains something) are not just unpleasant or to be frowned upon, but so bad (in the opinion of the writer) that they cannot be tolerated in any form. It may seem like it doesn't need explaining, but it does. After all, U.S. citizens tolerate rules of conduct that actually regulate speech, just as students tolerate Dartmouth's code of conduct. (No, free speech is not absolute.)

Steve-o said...

Yeah, you're right: you can't incite a riot; you can't threaten to kill the president. Your right of speech is not absolute. But to equate those regulations of speech with Dartmouth's infringements is idiotic. I fail to see the connection between the ends of US speech policy, with its public safety and national security benefits, with Dartmouth's attempts to stop distribution of the Review--with its rather mainstream, run-of-the-mill Conservative views--or to deny Zete's right to exist as part of the Dartmouth community because of so-called sexist speech.

commenter said...

Restrictions on speech are not extreme, and many of them are mundane. A drug company rep can't give doctors publicly-available research papers that recommend off-label uses for drugs, for example, under FDA regulations. Pastors can't endorse political candidates if their churches are to remain tax-exempt. Equation of these regulations with Dartmouth's regulation of student behavior is not idiotic.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget "free-speech zones." Very little government property is actually open to free speech: you can't protest on the flight line at an air force base, or inside the lodge in Grand Canyon National Park, or on the steps of the Supreme Court, only out front. Shouting enviro-wackos and antiwar types are removed from Senate hearings all the time. These controls on citizen conduct are permissible under the First Amendment because, among other things, they are necessary to keep government running smoothly. Your right to speech is not infinite.

commenter said...

I misspoke in writing that "the trustees don't have to accept any of the people that the body of alumni vote to nominate." That was a feature of the agreement in place before 1891. The current agreement binds the trustees to accept the person the alumni select unless they fail to select someone within a certain time. The alumni trustees are expected to resign after five years.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of legal speech regulation: citizens can also invoke the power of the state to control speech that is defamatory. Robert Donin's column in The Daily Dartmouth claims that "certain sexual activities involving a fraternity member were attributed to" a student in one newsletter, and that another "described student "B" as 'fat and syphilis-ridden.'" This kind of thing may be regulable by the Grafton County court, never mind Dartmouth.

Mike Lorrey said...
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Mike Lorrey said...

The erroneous assumption is that the Alumni Association actually represents the will of the entire Alumni body. What percent of Alumni actually vote for AA leadership? Who nominates candidates for AA leadership? Is it a self selected group?

As for the Zete comments on two women, it is clear that private communications, never intended to be published for public consumption, have a much higher degree of protection under free speech than public speech, wrt libel, slander, and defamation. However, even if the offenses rise to overcome that threshold, those offenses are still civil torts, not criminal violations, and thus are a private matter between the offenders and the victims to be litigated and not something that should incur governmental sanction on a par with criminal prosecution.

Steve-o said...

I stand by the idiotic comparison. Regarding "commentator's" examples of mundane speech restrictions: 1) You conflate right to tax-exempt status with right of speech. He can advocate for whomever he pleases, but he may not do so and maintain his tax-exempt status. It is this tax-exempt status that is restricted; it is not his right to speech. This is similar to Michael's point on civil tort vs. criminal liability. 2) Regarding your FDA restriction: Granted, that's true. But my response was to Anonymous's claim that Americans gladly tolerate these restrictions. The FDA restrictions are under fire right now. Further, they are restrictions on commercial speech. Dartmouth's speech codes are not restrictions on commercial speech, but student speech that plainly falls within the private sphere even if published in a newspaper.
3) Regarding the absence of free-speech zones: those are, at best, restrictions on the manner and not the substance. Perhaps, you can not shout antiwar slogans on a military runway. But this is a restriction on where and when you shout it, not what you're shouting. Again, Dartmouth's codes go to the substance of what is being said--and, granted, to the manner as well. But substance-based speech codes are rarely tolerated and unacceptable.