Tuesday, December 27, 2005

NR on Hart

The good folks at National Review, including alumni Trustee Peter Robinson '79, weigh in on Prof. Hart's article, discussing in particular his views of utopians and purists within the conservative movement. Keep scrolling down.

Hart in the WSJ

An edited version of the last chapter of Prof. Jeffrey Hart's new book, The Making of the American Conservative Mind: National Review and Its Times appears on the editorial page of today's Wall Street Journal.

For those interested, the full version of the chapter appeared in the Nov. 22 issue of The Dartmouth Review.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Early Decision

CNN has a story about the increased popularity of college early decision programs. It mentions Dartmouth's increase in early applications, and also has a brief blurb from Frances Dales, who apparently will be a member of the class of 2010.

The Secret Problem

In 1999 the New Hampshire House of Representatives created the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men, which the State Senate promptly stripped of funding. The funding was finally given in 2002 and the Commission was established.

The commission's unique purpose is to examine issues facing boys and men in New Hampshire. Issues covered range from an institutional bias in divorce law and domestic violence cases to an educational bias that has resulted in women representing sixty-percent of the college population, and girls greatly out performing boys in reading and writing. The commission examines myths about domestic violence and how government programs have a gender-bias that perpetuate the problem and create greater societal problems.

This November, the commission published its first report on these issues after holding meetings with men and women from New Hampshire, hearing reports and testimony from experts, and analyzing prior research on the topics they discuss. The report furnishes both the findings of the commission and the recommendations they make to alleviate current problems.

This report is worth taking a look at and flies in the face of much of the feminist rhetoric that those of my generation have grown up listening to. There is clearly an underlying problem with the treatment of men in our legal system, which derives from a presumed bias that is inherent in our patriarchal Western civilization. While steps have been taken to correct what were injustices, those steps have been extrapolated over time into an overreach that disenfranchised many men in an attempt to help women. The commission's report should be dismissed as it very well be; it should be looked at and begin a discussion in our society about the gender roles that does not discriminate against either men or women.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Happy Birthday Dartmouth

Today marks the 236th anniversary of the signing of Dartmouth's charter. The charter was signed by John Wentworth, royal governor of New Hampshire, on Dec. 13, 1769.

Posting on Dartlog will continue to be light until classes resume on Jan. 4.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Baker Missing, Presumed Dead

George F. Baker III, an adopted member of the class 1949, disappeared last Thursday afternoon when his twin-engine plane fell off radar about 3 miles from Nantucket airport. Baker was the pilot of the plane and the only person aboard. The Coast Guard called off a rescure effort last Friday after 18 hours of searching yielded only a first-aid kit and tube of aircraft grease.

Baker, whose great-grandfather founded the First National Bank of New York and donated $2 million in 1926 for the construction of Baker Library, gave an additional $3 million to Dartmouth in 1996 for the expansion of the library.

In addition to giving to Dartmouth, Baker's family helped establish the business school at Harvard, the athletic complex at Columbia, and scholarships at Georgetown.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Where's the Hannukah Bush?

Today at 5:15 PM, Alex and William Ussler will light Dartmouth's newly-christened 40-foot tall Christmas tree, with all of the necessary tra-la-la-ing provided by the Glee Club.

If you will note, though, last year Dartmouth had a "holiday tree" on the Green.

What's the difference? Jonah Goldberg's excellent column in yesterday's LA Times explains.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

AGTF Defends Set-Asides

The Alumni Governance Task Force, the group charged with re-writing the Alumni Association constitution from scratch, is scrambling to defend itself.

A few weeks ago, Joe Malchow '08 noticed that the new constitution includes set-asides for minority groups, and he complained that this amounts to built-in discrimination. He also said this could allow an alumnus to elect two members to the Alumni Council (which under the new scheme would be re-branded as the Association Assembly and replace the directly elected Association government).

To defend these set-asides against Malchow and others, the AGTF posted several different and rather nonsensical explanations for this new discrimination. Naturally, none of these address alumni concerns that discrimination is inherently bad.

  1. Affirmative action
    They openly admit that they are setting aside seats for "those groups of alumni who have been 'historically marginalized.'" This sounds very much like affirmative action, which nominally has the twin goals of correcting for latent racism and ensuring that individuals aren't punished for disparities earlier in life. But presumably, an election doesn't meet even these dubious requirements, since it is open to all alumni regardless of their race or their past or current station in life. And wouldn't minority alumni, having graduated from Dartmouth, be on a "level playing field" with non-minorities, thus making affirmative action pointless? This is an excuse for set-asides, not a reason.
  2. Fear of offending minorities
    The AGTF says they retained these set-asides because they "did not want to take something away" from the minority groups (emphasis theirs). But didn't they go about the constitution-making exercise precisely to re-work things and "create a more unified alumni body?" And this defense doesn't ring true, since one of their main purposes is to replace the directly-elected Association leadership with a corporatist body that represents special interests more than it does the alumni as a whole.
  3. Minority participation
    Then there's this: "As Dartmouth becomes increasingly diverse, we think it is important that we also encourage similar diversity of participation in our alumni governance organizations." But if their goal is to encourage all alumni to participate, then engineering an alumni government that automatically includes certain groups—whether they vote or not—doesn't serve their goal very well, does it? The problem they identify here is participation, not representation—so this is a poor defense of set-aside representation.
  4. Fundraising
    Finally, they say that division into identity groups is a good governance model because it works well for targeted fundraising. If the goal is to appeal to the most alumni possible and raise the most money possible, this is the way to go. But the point of the Association leadership is not to be popular with alumni or to raise money for the College. It is to oversee the College on behalf of those alumni who vote.

It does seem like the AGTF threw out several reasons in the hopes that one of them would serve as a good defense of their poor decisions. None of them work.

More importantly, none of these addresses what is perhaps the most heinous aspect of this arrangement: that these set-asides are for the College's "officially recognized Affiliated Groups." This means that the College, not alumni, determine representation on the new Association Assembly. Since the very purpose of establishing alumni governance in the first place was to allow alumni to oversee the College, letting the College pick its own overseers is a poor way to accomplish this goal.

Update: Andrew Seal '07 has a reply.

One of Seal's commenters notes that the Council now has minority set-asides. This is true. But that's not especially relevant to a discussion of the revised constitution. First, there is no reason to continue such practices when re-working the entire system, as the AGTF has set out to do. Second, the current set-asides, regardless of their merit, have little impact today on the Association's elected leadership, since they exist only in the Alumni Council, an advisory body. But under the new constitution, the Council (renamed the Assembly) would itself become the Association's leadership, replacing the elected body.