Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Overheard at Dartmouth, Dartlog Style

Said to me this evening in complete seriousness, causing considerable amusement: "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be offensive. I'm just saying, if you write for the Review, I think you're pretty much incapable of human emotion."

Google Deems Robert Spencer Hateful

Courtesy of the blog "Little Green Footballs" comes the news that Google has removed the video of Robert Spencer's speech from last Friday's Islamo-Fascism Awareness event. As I noted in a post below the event was notable for its lack of controversy. Here is what Google has to say:
As set forth in the Terms & Conditions, Google Video is not required to host or display uploaded content. Google Video may refuse to host content that violates its policies, including:
illegal content
invasions of personal privacy
pornography or obscenity
hate or incitement of violence
graphic violence or other acts resulting in serious injury or death
violations of copyright. Please see our DMCA policy for more information.
Please note that we also reserve the right to not show mature content to users with their safesearch activated. This includes content that would typically not be shown to users under 18 years of age.

We may change these policies at any time without notice.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baker Slowly Balding

Even though Wenda Gu's vanity project was supposed to come down on Sunday, apparently deconstructing a $50,000 piece of "art" requires some time. Although students no longer have to put up with the giant sheets of hair and Elmer's glue originally hung in the Baker main hall, the multicolored braids in the corridor of Berry are still slowly being taken down and wound on giant rollers. Regardless, in honor of the now nearly-bald Baker-Berry, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern has published a funny piece on possible future installations by the HairMaster.

Monday, October 29, 2007

In Violation of the College's Privacy Policy

Nachman has raised another important issue over at his blog. Is this in violation of the College's Privacy Policy?

Information stored on an individual's account is presumed to be private unless the account holder has made the information available to others. If, for example, the account holder allows public access to files via file sharing, it is presumed that the account holder has waived his or her privacy rights to those files.

Systems operators, supervisors, and other College officials may access information resources to locate business information, maintain the system and network, comply with legal requirements, or administer this or other Dartmouth policies.

[. . .]

Some programs and networked services gather information about the people who use them. If such information could directly or indirectly identify a person using the program, then each user should be warned and given a chance to leave the program or service before data collection begins, a procedure referred to as a "privacy warning." To avoid issuing excessive numbers of warning messages, an exception is made for host operating systems and some networked utilities used by Computing Services that collect identifying information as part of their normal operation. A list of these exempted programs and services and the data that they collect is available from Computing Services and is provided in the Appendix.

The Appendix has this to say:

On occasion, Blackboard system administrators need to simulate users’ login to Blackboard for troubleshooting purposes. By contacting Blackboard Support, users agree to allow Blackboard system administrators to simulate users' access to Blackboard in order to provide adequate support. This process involves utilizing a user’s Dartmouth ID number (DID).

Other than when contacted for support by Blackboard users, and in accordance with Dartmouth’s Information Technology Policy, Blackboard system administrators will not use a person's DID without explicit permission of the person.

Blackboard system administrators do not use, or have access to, users’ Dartmouth Name Directory (DND) passwords. Furthermore, Blackboard system administrators never request a user's DND password. It is advised that users should be extremely diligent in the protection of their DND password.

This information and access privileges are not shared with anyone other than the Blackboard system administrators group.

The question, then, is whether professors would be included under the title "system administrators group."

What Constitutes a Private Environment?

Here is what Barbara Knauff, Dartmouth's Blackboard guru, has to say about the situation:

Instructors can monitor student activity on their sites, yes. You shouldn't look at Blackboard as "private" environment.
Barbara
----------------------------------------
Barbara Knauff, Ph.D.
Academic Computing
Dartmouth College

Student Privacy?

I can't verify if this is true, but Dave Nachman writes that:

Nearly every course at Dartmouth uses Blackboard, an online software service that lets professors post materials and give online exams for their courses, along with an array of other features. Well, it turns out that professors can track student usage - when each individual students logs in or out of the course website, and when they looked at specific course readings.
One reason I'm rather skeptical is that none of my professors have ever mentioned the fact. I would assume that if they wanted their students to do their work, professors would hint (none too subtly) that they could find out whether each individual student did indeed do the work assigned. If this is true, it's a bit creepy—like taking facebook stalking to a whole new level.

UPDATE: Professor Heckman, of the Comp Sci department, has confirmed that professors can track student usage.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Comments

I've been made aware that the comments section seems to be broken on post below. Feel free to comment here for that post.

"Awareness Week" —If Only We Were Aware of the Problem

Many of us here at Dartlog were ambivalent about "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," skeptical that it would really accomplish anything other than coopting that great monolith of PC culture—the "awareness week." Here at Dartmouth Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch, was the main event for the week. I attended his speech in hopes of seeing some controversy. Needless to say, probably more than 90% of those in attendance were devout followers of both Mr. Spencer and David Horowitz. The event was, quite plainly, boring; only one question in the period after the speech was the least bit confrontational.

Well, those too afraid to confront Spencer head on (or perhaps they were just ticked off at conservatives for pilfering their terminology) have finally come up with a solution: Their very own awareness week!

>Date: 26 Oct 2007 16:03:51 -0400
>From: Kurt D. Nelson
>Subject: Al-Nur and IFAW

Friends,

As interested folks, many of whom have pledged support for Dartmouth's Muslim community, I wanted to update you on the goings on. Instead of responding directly to Robert Spencer's presence on campus or the violent and hateful posters associated with Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week, al-Nur with the help of the Multi-Faith Council and Hillel is planning a collection of events for the near future. We have a bare-bones sense of them at this point, but under the title "Islamo-Fashion Awareness Week" al-Nur, the Multi-Faith Council and Hillel (and any other groups interested in co-sponsorship) will host the following:

Friday November 2, Sundown in the Muslim Prayer Room, N Fairbanks all are welcome to come to Maghrib prayer with an introduction and question and answer hosted by al-Nur

Monday November 5, time and location TBD a showing of the Oscar Winning WEST BANK STORY with discussion. A musical comedy about competing Hummus restaurants in the West Bank. A must see. (MFC folks, this will take the place of our regular meeting)

Wednesday November 7th 6:00 PM Collis Commonground hear students Muslim students about the Muslim faith and what unites this unique and diverse group, eat dinner and discuss.

More information will follow, I just wanted you to have a sense. Groups interested in assisting with planning or sponsorship are most welcome.

Best wishes,

Kurt Nelson
Multi-Faith Program Advisor
The Tucker Foundation, Dartmouth College
(603) 646 9919

Friday, October 26, 2007

College: No New Charter Trustees Until February 2008

Today Dartmouth College followed the time-honored approach of dumping out its unfavorable news on a Friday. According to a news release by the administration, the College submitted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit the Association of Alumni brought before the court on October 3rd. Perhaps the biggest news accompanying the release is the College's announcement that they will not seek to seat any new Charter Trustees until February 2008—the AoA had written in their suit that the College would start filling seats as early as November 2007. This admission, in the form of an affidavit by the College's lead attorney Roger Donin, would seemingly grant what the AoA's injunction had requested. Assorted court documents below:

Homecoming TDR

For those who haven't made their way over to our homepage in the last week, it should be known that the homecoming edition of The Dartmouth Review is online. Included amongst the variegated morsels of truth and knowledge within:

Goodbye Gu

Today is the last day students will have to navigate around strands of unseemly hair as they make their way through Baker-Berry Library. By all accounts the exhibit has been a colossal failure. As of tomorrow, Wenda Gu's "artistic" monstrosity will be nothing more than a disgusting memory. This all led me to wonder, what will become of all this hair after tomorrow? Surely, no one will want to store it. In the most recent DFP Niral Shah '08 wistfully hopes a spark from the bonfire will sneak into the library and set the work on fire—perhaps it can be used as fuel for next year's bonfire, notwithstanding the awful stench.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sustainable Legacy?

We here at Dartlog are unabashed disciples of sustainability guru Jim Merkel. As you can imagine, our hearts were lightened when we heard that Dartmouth is in the top tier of sustainable schools. Read our report card here.

Mike Huckabee Receives Chuck Norris Endorsement

I know this blog mostly writes abut campus issues, and this has absolutely nothing to do with Dartmouth, but it was reasonably amusing - Chuck Norris, the star of "Walker, Texas Ranger" and subject of seemingly countless remarkable facts, has posted an article on his blog endorsing former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for the Republican Party presidential nominee.

(I would insert an overdone Chuck Norris Fact here, but I'm sure a lot of people got sick of those circa 2005.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amusing Link

I just came across www.gradeinflation.org, which I found amusing.

Tuck Prof. Talks Protectionism

Matthew Slaughter is a professor at the Tuck School of Business, and, until recently, he served on the Council of Economic Advisors to the president. He recently wrote in Tuck Today about the issues he sees that Washington needs to confront.


Since my return, the most common question I have gotten is, “So, how was it?” I am of two minds about it. On the one hand, it was great. Created in 1946, CEA has a long history among academic economists as a forum for applying academic scholarship and teaching to provide nonpartisan, nonpolitical input to the important policy challenges facing the country. I deeply appreciated Tuck’s granting me the ability to take a leave of absence for this service, and I am now enjoying bringing that service back to Tuck—through enriched teaching, new research ideas, and a broadened outreach to the business-policy community. But on the other hand, measured in terms of policy outcomes, my CEA tenure was not so great. In case you haven’t noticed, U.S. economic policy is becoming more protectionist by the day.

Trade Promotion Authority for the president expired on June 30, with no prospect for renewal. The 109th Congress introduced 27 pieces of anti-China trade legislation; the 110th introduced over a dozen in just its first three months; and more than one is likely to be law by year’s end. The Doha Development Round of WTO trade negotiations—the centerpiece of global trade liberalization—is years behind schedule and now on the brink of collapse. Scrutiny of inward foreign direct investment has risen. And efforts at comprehensive immigration reform, which would have expanded inflows in many ways, collapsed in July.

What does Slaughter think explains the protectionist drift? Go here to keep reading.

Funding Extended for Ivy Council Nonsense

Student Assembly voted to renew funding for Ivy Council, a group that attends a conference with delegates from all of the Ivy League colleges, at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting. The Assembly approved up to $700 to fund dues, transportation and other expenses for the delegates. “It’s great that Student Assembly has agreed to continue supporting us,” said Joe DeBonis ‘10, who cosponsored the legislation. The delegates to Ivy Council will author a book analyzing 10 to 12 common issues affecting the Ivy League colleges. “The book will be a great resource for Student Assembly,” DeBonis said.

Full article here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NH State Legislature to Intervene

According to the Daily D, a proposal is being mulled over in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would give the State partial control over the College's charter. For students of U.S. History this should sound eerily similar, i.e. Dartmouth College v. Woodward.

UPDATE: This is apparently the piece of legislation that would be amended.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Risky Ivy Council

If you ever wondered what important things the Ivy Council was up to, we finally got an answer this last weekend:
>Date: 21 Oct 2007 12:12:09 -0400
>From: Joseph V. DeBonis III
>Subject: Conquer the Ivy League!
>To: [redacted]

**Did you love Risk as a kid?**

**Do you have wild ambitions of conquering all New England?**

**Do you want to prove that Dartmouth is the best Ivy in the League?**

**********************
PLAY GoCrossCampus!
**********************

GoCrossCampus is a socially interactive online world domination game set to the map of New England.

Control your own legion of armies, coordinate the gameplan, and play as a team with the rest of your school to take over territories and edge out your rival Ivies.

Its already been a hit at Harvard and Yale so don't let Dartmouth down! Show we reign supreme! Play GoCrossCampus!

Starts Monday, Oct 22nd
Visit http://www.gocrosscampus.com to start your world domination today!

**This has been a message from your Dartmouth Ivy Council!**

IvyGate has more on this phenomenon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Indians Beat Lions 37-28

Even though halftime (i.e. the lack of freshmen field-rushers) was incredibly disappointing, the good news is that Dartmouth just won their Homecoming game against the Columbia Lions, 37-28. Serious applause for the Dartmouth football team (and also the Dartmouth College Marching Band, cheerleaders, and Keggy, for doing a great job boosting morale.)

Worst Class Ever is a Miserable Failure

Not a single freshman rushed the field - I mean really rushed the field, which does not entail running out from a little pen in an organized group to form an "11" on the 50-yard line before being herded back to the sideline - at halftime during this year's Homecoming game.

Lest the old traditions fail, indeed.

UPDATE: A few intrepid freshmen did rush the field later in the game between the 3rd and 4th quarter. 11's as a class are slightly redeemed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Worst Class Ever Enjoys Their First Homecoming

Homecoming has begun with a vengeance - kicked off by parties on Wednesday and Thursday night, the campus is looking forward to the bonfire, Freshman Sweep, the football game, and other (not administratively-sanctioned) traditions like several nights of less-inhibited-than-usual revelry and encouraging freshmen to rush the field.

Apparently, putting the worst class ever in its (deserved) place is officially frowned upon; some upperclassmen recently received the following blitz from those worried about the fragile self-esteem of the pea-greens:
Upperclass students frequently encourage first-year students to engage in unsafe behavior, often in the name of tradition. Please emphasize to upperclass students the risk of harming someone and ending the bonfire tradition if they encourage unsafe behavior. Examples of unsafe behavior that’s been encouraged by upperclass students:
• Touching the bonfire
• Climbing on the bonfire structure
• Consuming alcohol before or during the sweep/bonfire

Upperclass students have also engaged in inappropriate and unsafe behavior in the past, such as:
• Running the opposite direction as the crowd around the bonfire
• Trying to disrupt construction of the bonfire
• Touching or climbing the bonfire
• Yelling things such as “worst class ever” at first years
• Consuming alcohol or other drugs before/during the bonfire
• Knocking others down and even assaulting people
• Throwing objects or wiping things on those around the fire

Have fun at your first real Dartmouth weekend, '11s, and welcome. I hope your tender feelings won't be crushed by the big, bad upperclassmen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Homecoming Shirt Underwhelms


Some people found last year's Homecoming shirt offensive for its depiction of an Indian, and while this year's shirt will probably not incite demonstrations and hysterical accusations of racism, it's just kind of ... boring and underwhelming. The Dartmouth Co-Op unveiled their 2007 Homecoming T-shirt recently, which depicts a moose in a Dartmouth jersey charging down a lion in a Columbia jersey.

And So It Begins

The email below across my inbox this morning through a chain of forwards. It comes from a major fundraiser (and donor) for the Dartmouth Parents and Grandparents Fund, addressed to Beth Meyer, the head of said fund. I think it sums of the common sentiment quite nicely.

From: [redacted]
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 1:07 AM
To: Elizabeth.A.Meyer@Dartmouth.EDU
Cc: James.E.Wright@Dartmouth.EDU
Subject: Withdrawal from Parents Fund

Dear Beth,

So much of a college's success depends upon the support of its alumni body. At Dartmouth it seems that the college may have devalued the importance of this group. It would be very hard for us to "sing the praises" of the college to alumni parents when that key constituency has apparently been abandoned. We hope Dartmouth's position on this issue will change and, when it does, know that we will be the first in line to raise money for this wonderful institution. Until then, we cannot be supportive.

Beth, despite our deep disappointment, we send you our personal best,

[redacted]


In light of this email and comments in the post below, you can't help but wonder which is worse: The loss of a couple larege donors, or "death by a thosand papercuts" insinuated here in the loss of a large number of smaller donors.

Abandoning the Sense of Community

Excellent Op-ed in today's paper by Jacob Baron '10.

Among Dartmouth’s many special elements — breathtaking physical beauty, green shutters on the dormitories, fraternity pledge rituals that would violate the Geneva Conventions if performed by a government on foreign combatants — its “sense of community” is consistently touted as one of its highest virtues. It is the strongest glue keeping alumni together and connected to the College. This community is what many alumni feel has been violated in the recent governance controversy. The board killed a 116-year-old communitarian tradition for a selfish reason (its favored candidates were losing), with a transparently disingenuous justification (to “increase alumni involvement” on the board), and in a nasty way (by fiat).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

They Start Young

The Daily D ran a story today about the electioneering for freshman class council. The article itself was unremarkable save for the introduction of Dartmouth's newest power hungry political caricature. Meet Derek Summervile [sic].

Derek Summerville ‘11 campaigns Tuesday night for freshman Class Council president. He says his campaign is more ‘mature’ than those of his peers.
(photo courtesy of thedartmouth.com)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Higher than Average Rush

Yesterday witnessed the end of this year's rush process. According to the Daily D the number of participants this year was higher than normal. Here is the breakdown of this year's pledge classes:

AXA: 24
AD: 24
BG: 19
Chi Gam: 25
Heorot: 27
GDX: 21
Tri-Kap: 23
Phi Delt: 17
Psi U: 31
SAE: 21
Sig Nu: 15
Sig Ep: 28
Theta Delt: 28

UPDATE: Here is the break down of bids sent out by the sororities last night:

Alpha Phi: 24
AZD: 41
Tri-Delt: 40
KDE: 41
KKG: 42
EKT: 23
Sigma Delt: 40

Monday, October 15, 2007

More Bureaucracy on the Way

>Date: 15 Oct 2007 19:40:00 -0400
>From: Special Programs & Events Committee
>Subject: SPEC Event Funding
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)

I am writing to inform you all about a new organization, the Special Events and Programs Committee. SPEC will be responsible for the funding of events on campus requesting over $5,000. SPEC funding will replace funding from COSO, PB, GLC, SA, COCO, and CGB (only for events for 5k). The committee comprises a member from each of these 6 organizations as well as 1 at-large member.

Please blitz SPECfunding [sic] or contact Yasmin Mandviwala if you would like to know more about SPEC, or if you would like to send in a budget request. Note that budget requests are due by noon on Friday 3 weeks before your event.

"Indoctrinate U" and the NYT's Response

This kind of thing should be right up the Review's alley, but I admit I'd never heard of "Indoctrinate U", a new documentary by Evan Coyne Maloney about ideological conformity at American universities, until I read Stanley Fish's commentary on the film in yesterday's New York Times. Maloney criticizes academia's ludicrous standards of political correctness, campus speech codes, lack of intellectual diversity, etc.

Fish makes some reasonable points in response to the documentary; for example, he notes that the political affiliations of professors shouldn't matter as long as they don't abuse their position and "use the classroom as a stage for their political views." It's no secret that Dartmouth faculty - and those at virtually every university in this country - lean heavily to the left, but that doesn't affect most professors' ability to deliver compelling lectures on, say, amino acids or the Treaty of Versailles (see our "Worst Profs" list for exceptions). On the other hand, he does characterize Maloney as a right-wing extremist whose fears concerning free speech and intellectual diversity are incredibly ill-informed, hysterical, biased, etc. I haven't seen "Indoctrinate U," so I can't tell if Fish is mischaracterizing Maloney's supposed mischaracterizations, so to speak.

Speaking of which, you can go vote on the film's website to have it screened in your city and see for yourself whether you believe Maloney or not. (The site also contains a snappily edited and highly entertaining trailer.) I highly doubt the vote count of Hanover, NH will eclipse that of New York City or DC, but hey, it's worth a try.

Dartmouth Supports Sweatshop Art


There is a fascinating new article in the Dartmouth Independent on Wenda Gu—the man responsible for the hair all over our library. I encourage everyone to go read it.

In the picture on the left, the girl in black is said to be 13 years old. Photo courtesy of Emily Mirengoff, The Dartmouth Independent.





Of Gu's worker's, one had formerly worked on the production line at a wig factory outside Shanghai. She described her life prior to Gu's studio as more fulfilling. "Actually, I was happier working in the factory because first all of it was much easier working with the hair there," she said. "There were also more people there, and I was friends with many of them... We had the means to live in the factory."

[. . .]

Another worker had an even more interesting story to tell. Her noticeably young face, unnecessarily puffy black winter jacket and bright turtleneck stood out among her fellow workers. She was the sister of one of the other women, and appeared no older than 16, although our translator estimated her to be as young as 13. During filming, Gu's studio director, Wang Jing, took me by the arm, and instructed that I not film the young girl. She explained that she was too young to be working and did not know what problems would result from her presence. Wang had told her not to work while we were present with cameras, but the girl had not listened. She needed the money.

Elsewhere in Shanghai, Gu was using the small fortune he and his designer wife had amassed to renovate an old mansion to be resold as a wine bar. The whole project cost a total of $5 million U.S. or $40 million RMB, an incredible fortune by Chinese standards. Everything, everywhere in the house, was custom made. Lacquer banisters erupted from finely stuccoed walls. Gu and his wife, Kathryn Scott, had flown in a team of Italian experts to show their Shanghai workers how it was done. The Chinese had learned their trade well. The unfinished result was spectacular.

Most of the house's workers lived in the yet unfinished basement. Some, the bosses, had beds with steel frames, but the majority slept on thin mats that lined the floor. As we walked down the basement's dark stairwell, we caught one of the men urinating into a small chamber pot that looked more like a plastic doggy dish. Pee splattered the floor and ran along the sides of the walls in other places. The conditions were worrying.

[. . .]

Other works Gu commissioned are sent to a local factory with which he has formed a relatively solid relationship. But when we tried to take a look at the factory, due to growing interest in the production process, Gu became oddly cold and angry. We could hear his voice on the phone as he yelled in Chinese at the translator, and when she, tearful, passed it on to our film's director, he was still terse, nervous, and furious.

"I am Gu Wenda," two of us later translated from our interpreter's conversation. "Haven't I done enough for you? You are asking too much of me!"

[. . .]

Then there was the issue of the process itself. As time passed, evidence mounted that Gu hadn't produced his art 'by hand' as had been expected. Instead, his commissions were being manufactured by hired workers. "Wenda Gu really talked up the quality of the books he created as though he were doing it personally," my source said, referring to a set of rubbings simultaneously put on show at the College. "But he didn't work on the project at all, he just farmed it out."

Part of the problem is that Wenda Gu, despite "farming" the labor, would naturally attribute the work to his own hands, even given evidence to the contrary. "I guarantee that he would take full credit for it," the source said. "He wouldn't give that information up front."

[. . .]

"For me, I have kind of a conflict." Gu said. "I'm not totally from the older generation [of Chinese artists] because they are always into the art for art's sake kind of theory. For me I have 20 years in New York. ... So for me I have this kind of conflicting two parts. And this is what made me rich, because I'm not completely older generation artist nor am I totally younger generation."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tales from the Crypt

A new edition of The Dartmouth Review is now online. TDR secured confidential administrative documents concerning pong, alcohol arrests from year to year, and comparative tables between Dartmouth and other schools. For the roundup, go here; for the actual PowerPoint slides and other tables await the arrival of TDR hard-copy on your doorstep. Other articles of interest:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lessing, Revisted

To build off of Andy’s post below, I’d like to draw attention to today’s NYT reprint of an article written by Doris Lessing originally in 1992. The article, “Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer,” sharply dismantles the dogma which, in the 21st century, has replaced the 20th century’s ‘clever’ obsession with Communism: political correctness.

Lessing, who was awarded the 2007 Noble Prize in literature, not only attacks the PC virus with the vibrancy and verve of her right-wing counterparts—if she does “counter” them on any fronts anyways, which I’m not so sure about—but her particular emphasis on PCism’s deadening and dull effects on imaginative art proves that Lessing is an iconoclast, not a regurgitating parrot. Lessing distanced herself from the limiting political dogmas of the feminist/socialist/Marxist left, so to associate her with any of those things is not only unfair, it is just plain wrong.

In fact, many believe that Lessing fell out of favor with the feminist and academic crowd because she refused to see the world in feminist terms; as her own article shows, she ardently condemned the PC jargon that feminist and leftist radicals are heir to—right or left, she was above the pettiness of any chichi ideology, too smart of an individual to be involved with or endorse any of them. She was virulently anti-communist and saw too much of the Marxist totalitarian double-speak in the feminist movement to raise a glass with it. Lessing’s own sassy sense of right and wrong—her ability to think independently and apart from the root-hogs in the ideological herd—meant she was routinely ostracized by the literati of academia, getting no love from the left, nor from the right who had a difficult time reconciling her exotic books and shifting life with her sharpened mind.

So for those who are tempted to follow in Harold Bloom's clod-hopping footsteps, I would recommend reading Lessing’s own thoughts on the matter; clearly she cannot be put into any ideological box by either the left or the right.

UPDATE: Cristopher Hitchens' reaction. —A.S.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Untamed is Recognized

For many of us last year, the founding of the College's second humor magazine (the Jack-o-Lantern being the first) Untamed was a cause for celebration. How many times was I low, only to have my spirits lifted by a new edition of Untamed? Countless times. After all, this is the publication that brought us such gems as: "Girl, you've got that bomb ass pussy." Laughs abound with each issue: Fortunately, the creators behind Untamed have been recognized for all their hard work, winning the coveted prize of the "COSO Outstanding Publication 2006-2007." Congrats Untamed, here's to many more laughs down the road.

>Date: 12 Oct 2007 11:50:48 -0400
>From: Untamed
>Subject: Write for Untamed!
>To: (Recipient list suppressed)

***Looking to publish your work?***

Submit your papers, (Women's and Gender Studies, Anthropology, English, Religion, History, etc.), creative writing, art, photography, essays, memoirs, rants, and articles to:

***Untamed Publications***

*Winner of COSO Outstanding Publication 2006-2007*

Untamed is THE campus feminist/womanist publication.

Blitz "untamed" to submit your work!
Men and Women wanted!

~We are having our first meeting of the term on Tuesday 10/16 in Collis 221 from 8-10pm. ~

This term's theme is Women of Adventure.
Bring your article ideas and an open mind!

Thanks,
Valerie Arvidson
Editor, Untamed Publications
*****************************

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobel Prize in Literature

The 2006 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Orhan Pamuk spoke at Dartmouth today. Pamuk, a Turkish author, seamlessly wove humor into remarks that alternated between anecdotes and excerpts from his books. His four most important authors? Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Mann, and Proust.

On a separate but related note, this year's Nobel Prize winner in Literature was announced today. Doris Lessing is a Persian-born author of British descent, who grew up in Southern Rhodesia. A hero of the feminist movement, she also abandoned her husband and two children.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dartmouth Swimming is the Nation's Top Academic Program

Remember when the administration almost did away with swimming at Dartmouth. Remember when they said their just wasn't the money, even when the administrative budget was seeing massive increases. Here's to the swimmers for sticking it out.

According to statistics released Tuesday by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), the Dartmouth men's and women's swimming program is the country's top ranked Division I Academic All-America team.

Dartmouth ranked third among the men's Division I teams with a 3.40 grade point average for the winter-spring 2007 semester, and ninth among the women with 3.50. Combined, Dartmouth is first in the nation as Ivy League teams took three of the top four spots. Brown was second and Harvard fourth, while the University of Denver was third.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wright Addresses Faculty

His remarks touched on many things, including but not limited to professor compensation, construction work, the capital campaign, the recent trustee controversy, the quality of Dartmouth's professors and students, and class enrollment issues. When referencing shortages of tenure tracks in certain departments, Wright said, "enrollment pressures continue and we need to think about how to address them."

Perhaps the biggest surprise in his speech was the announcement of his intention to revamp sophomore summer:

This is a well-established program that is unique to Dartmouth. But we have not taken advantage of the opportunity. I aspire to make this a showcase of what Dartmouth can do. For over thirty years it has evolved but it has not been strategically and intellectually managed by the faculty and the administration.

I propose a basic conversation about what we might do with this opportunity-we have a class in residence just after they have declared their majors and at a time when there are fewer extracurricular demands on them.

Students by all accounts enjoy the summer terms-and we want them to continue to enjoy it. But let the enjoyment be expanded and enriched: for example, could we schedule classes differently, including three week intensive units? Could we provide for three course credit courses-providing for intensive work in a field of study? Could we take fuller advantage of professional school faculty teaching in summer courses? Could we include during the summer a focus on themes that address the great issues of the day and provide opportunities for students to consider how they can develop as leaders? Can we find ways to integrate around some common themes the remarkable resources of the Hopkins Center, the Hood Museum, the Dickey Endowment, the Rockefeller Center, the Ethics Institute, the Humanities Center, the Montgomery Endowment, the Tucker Foundation? Can we utilize during the summer the experiences that our alumni/ae can bring back to the campus, providing opportunities to bridge theory and practice.

I have asked Dean Folt to work with the faculty to develop initiatives that build upon the unique opportunity we have to share the richness of learning and the responsibility of the learned. We will proceed to raise funds that will secure these initiatives.

At the end of his remarks he also underscored his support for his colleagues in the administration:

I would also like to extend a special salute to my colleagues in the administration and staff. Dartmouth is blessed with an administration and staff that cares deeply about the College, about the experience of the students, and about the work of the faculty. They work extremely hard and imaginatively to provide support for a community that has become larger, richer, more complicated, to sustain a growing infrastructure, and to control costs. All of this happens in a world that is more complex and in an environment marked by regulations and by reports. I regret immensely that some critics abstract these colleagues as "administrators," as a pejorative description that is used as obstacle or antithesis to what we are about. You know better than this. Try being what we are about without them.

Go here to view the full speech.

Sorority Rush Begins

For the next week, expect to see groups of sophomore (and junior!) women walking around campus in heels and skirts - sorority rush begins today at 6:00 pm. Round 1, in which women are invited to short parties at all seven sororities, will last today and tomorrow, kicking off a week-long process that involves multiple rounds of "elimination", a computer-aided mutual preference system to match women with houses, and roughly 15 cumulative hours of finger food and small talk. (The rush process for fraternities and co-eds is considerably less Byzantine; the former will begin and end this coming weekend, and the latter lasts for one evening at dates set by individual organizations.)

Fun fact: The Office of Residential Life informs us that rush is no longer officially referred to as rush; instead, the process is titled "Coed, Fraternity, and Sorority Recruitment." Ho hum.

Elsewhere: Don't wear a Che Guevara bikini [Picture #9] for round one, no matter how "casual" you are encouraged to be. Just don't do it.

Oral Sex in The Dartmouth

There has been somewhat of a stir on campus regarding an article published last Friday by The Dartmouth. The article, written by Aurora Wells '10, was an exposé explaining to freshmen how to give oral sex to a woman. The article can be found here, thankfully sans diagram.

Today the paper published two op-eds in response to that article. One, by Lee Cooper '09 notes the hypocrisy of gender relations at the College. Another, by former reviewer Zachary Gottlieb '10, takes a more satirical approach in its critique.

UPDATE: There's also quite the discussion going on over at IvyGate.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wright Calls for a New GI Bill

Over the weekend President Wright had an op-ed published in the Boston Globe. In the piece, a typical Wright ramble, he writes of his admirable visits to military hospitals, and he also calls for a new GI Bill. He doesn't go into any details about what a new bill would look like.

This is an OPEN THREAD. Post comments below on whether or not you think there should be a new GI Bill. And if yes, what should it look like?

For my money, it sounds like a good idea.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Batman by Dostoevsky.

Batman by Dostoevsky.

Some Thoughts on the Recent Controversy

The recent controversy enveloping Dartmouth College has been extremely vexing for sundry reasons. Amongst them, the disingenuous representation of the Board’s decision to the Dartmouth community is particularly maddening.

The College website conducted a Q&A with Haldeman shortly after the announcement of the changes. One question referenced the “so-called 1891 agreement.” This doesn’t reinforce the idea that the administration is being evenhanded. Haldeman noted that Wright recused himself from deliberations. Does that make Wright a neutral figure? Considering Wright was one of only five people on the Governance Committee, a committee that didn’t have a single petition candidate on it; I’m skeptical.

One more thing about the petition candidates, Haldeman claimed, “The full Board has embraced the petition candidates as trustees - treating them the same way we do any other member of the Board.” That may be true, but looking from the outside in, I’m rather incredulous.

On May 19, of this year, former Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bill Neukom ’64 hinted that the proportion of Alumni Trustees to Charter Trustees would change. Well, the proportion did change, and to me, looking back at Neukom’s comments, it seems like the board acted as if it was a foregone conclusion that the proportion would change. I find it hard, therefore, to take Haldeman seriously when he says, “Over the past three months, the Board's Governance Committee conducted a thorough review of this issue. We carefully considered input from many alumni. . . .” According to a recent survey, 92 percent of about 4,000 alumni wanted to retain their previous privilege of voting for half of the Board of Trustees (excluding the ex officio members).

“I want to urge everyone who cares about Dartmouth to debate this issue in a reasonable and respectful way.” This declaration from Ed Haldeman ’70, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, came directly after they decided to significantly cut alumni involvement in choosing the makeup of the board.

I guess one question I have is why wasn’t there genuine debate? The trustees could have called for an “advisory vote” of some sort. Setting up an election to get a true sense of what alumni think. Leading up to the vote there would have been debate from both sides, good and bad points made from both sides, a dialogue from both sides. But there was none of this; instead, there was a fiat. Why? I think it’s because the trustees don’t honestly care what alumni think. Despite all of Haldeman’s and Wright’s protestations one thing is clear: they do not trust alumni. They do not want alumni input. They have their own vision of what Dartmouth should be, and it’s not open to interpretation.

There has been a lot of legal debate about the 1891 agreement between the College and the alumni. I’m not a legal scholar. I don’t know if the 1891 agreement has legal standing. In the past, whenever the size of the board has increased it has been proportionally, but I don’t know if that has any legal significance. What I do know is this: From an outside perspective the recent move by the Board of Trustees reeks of cronyism, but more than that it reeks of haughtiness, the absolute knowledge that no matter what decisions they make, they aren’t accountable to anyone.

That’s human nature; when one has an advantage, one exploits it. What makes me sick is all of the sophistry that has accompanied their decision. No one actually believes, for example, that their changes have “made the Board more accessible to alumni.” No matter how they try to spin their decision, most see it simply as a power grab.

I’m not questioning their hearts; I’m sure they are all trying to make Dartmouth the best university in the world. I’m questioning their means. I’m questioning the casuistry. I’m questioning their lack of humility.

What we in the Dartmouth community are now getting a taste of is a self-perpetuating oligarchy. It may be benevolent authoritarian rule, some certainly believe so, or it may just be an exercise in hubristic assuredness; however one chooses to characterize this regime is a matter of personal preference. One thing I know for sure: I can’t wait to get this taste out of my mouth.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The AoA's complete suit

Dave Nachman brings us the Association's motion. Thank you Dave, and enjoy everyone.

UPDATE: Dartblog brings us a fuller picture of the motion: The Petition for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief.

Dartmouth College Alumni Council Statement Opposing Lawsuit

>Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 16:02:04 -0400 (EDT)
>From: "Alumni Council"
>Reply-To:
>Subject: Call to Drop Lawsuit

Dartmouth College Alumni Council Statement Opposing Lawsuit

On October 3, 2007, 6 members of the 11-member Executive Committee of the Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College caused a lawsuit to be filed against the College in New Hampshire Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks to stop the Board of Trustees of the College from taking certain actions respecting the composition of the Board, and from making nomination to the Board by alumni more democratic. Historically, the sole responsibility of the Executive Committee of the Association of Alumni has been to run the annual meeting of the Association and related elections. In contrast, the 100-member Alumni Council is the representative body of Dartmouth's 68,000 alumni, constitutionally charged with being the "primary forum" for discussion of issues and concerns relative to the alumni body and the College, and the "principal spokesperson" of the alumni. The Alumni Council's purpose is to "act in the best interests of Dartmouth College."

As the principal spokesperson for Dartmouth College's alumni, the Alumni Council opposes and calls for the immediate voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. While the Alumni Council is aware that Dartmouth alumni have varying opinions on the desire for "parity," the Council believes that the lawsuit is meritless, against the will of the majority of Dartmouth's alumni, and harmful to the interests of the College and the alumni.

In the event, the lawsuit is still pending as of the time of the Alumni Council's Fall Meeting, November 29-December 1, 2007, the Council will consider whether any further action is appropriate based on additional consultation with the alumni body.

Auction of Dartmouth Memorabilia

Dartlog has been informed of an auction to take place Sunday, October 21, in Plainfield New Hampshire. The auction will begin at 11am at the W.A. Smith Auction Gallery, with viewing open 8am onward. This from the Auctioneer:

Location: Exit 20 off I-89, proceed south on Rte. 12A from the West Lebanon Plaza for 7 miles. From I-91, take the Ascutney-Windsor, Vt. exit 8, cross the Ct. River and take Rte. 12A north approximately 10 miles.

Sale will include a diverse collection of Dartmouth related memorabilia dating from 1900-1980. To include wall art, old clothing, china, ephemera, film, Indian canes, architectural, books, advertising, photos and more.

Approximately 100 lots of Dartmouth related along with approximately 100 lots of rare ephemera, including Civil War papers, coins, postcards, stamps, railroad related photo’s and postcards, advertising and much more. Followed by approx. 300 lots of antiques, art, carpets, and accessories will round out the day’s event.

Featured Dartmouth College Items: A water color painting by Paul Sample, done in 1938 of Alumni Hall, Dartmouth College – measuring approximately 14” X 21”; clock hands to Baker library – 87” minute hand and a 61” hour hand; 1938 Dartmouth Winter Carnival ski poster, in the Deco style- measuring 22” x 34” – other Dartmouth ski posters.

Here's the website.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

AoA Blitzes Dartmouth Students

>To: [redacted]
>Subject: The College Governance Controversy
>Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2007 19:00:03 -0400
>From: "Association of Alumni"
>Reply-To: dartaoa@gmail.com


Dear Dartmouth Students,

We are the executives of the Dartmouth Association of Alumni who are
seeking to prevent the Trustees from implementing their highly
controversial reorganization of the governance of the College. We owe
you an explanation, as we recognize how this affects you today and in
the future. At the moment, you are the most important people at
Dartmouth. In four years, all of you will be alumni and there will be
4,000 new undergraduates. Our goal in all of this is to protect the
core of the Dartmouth experience -- and even the '11s already know
exactly what we mean by this -- from administrative overreach and from
co-optation by a small (but, we readily admit, very wealthy) group of
alumni.

A brief bit of background. Dartmouth's Board of Trustees hires, fires,
evaluates, and sets the salary of the president. Of course, they don't
decide, for example, which courses are offered in a given term --
faculty decides that -- but they are charged with overseeing the entire
College and setting its strategic direction. Their decisions determine
what Dartmouth will become. For over a century, half of the Board has
been elected by former students of Dartmouth. The moment one's class
graduated, one earned the right to vote.

Over the last four years, a remarkable series of events happened at
Dartmouth. T.J. Rodgers '70, the self-made CEO of Cypress Semiconductor
Corporation, ran for a Trusteeship and won. Why was that remarkable?
Because Dr. Rodgers did not have the administration's sanction. He used
a petition process long embedded, and usually ignored, in the election
rules. Dr. Rodgers's campaign explained all the good that had been done
at the College -- and all the hard work still required. By contrast,
his opponents did not offer substantive opinions. Dr. Rodgers won an
astounding victory.

The next year, two seats were open. Two more petition candidates -- law
professor Todd Zywicki '88 and author Peter Robinson '79 -- ran and won.
They focused on issues of free speech (Dartmouth still had a red-light
speech code at the time, limiting freedom of speech), and support of
athletics (ask senior friends about the attempted cutting of the swim
team). Again, these petition candidates won.

As a matter of course, each of these three petition candidates found
themselves becoming even better informed in the details of the College
and sobered by what they learned. Their concerns have centered on
ensuring absolutely the best student experience, by eliminating
bureaucracy, increasing the numbers of the full-time faculty available
to students, and making sure that traditional out-of-class experiences
are not diminished. This made those in power uncomfortable. Instead
of addressing these issues head on, the administration became
defensive, as you can now see on the infamous Ask.Dartmouth.Edu
website. There was, and remains today, a sense that dissent is
disloyal. You can still hear some people claim that talking about where
Dartmouth needs to improve is akin to harming Dartmouth!

Needless to say, this sort of argumentation -- which echoes what we've
heard in Washington over the past few years -- failed to convince many
people. The year after Messrs. Robinson and Zywicki were elected, a
brand new alumni governance constitution was proposed. Under the
guise of changes to the structure of alumni organizations, a few people
who feared having more petition trustees tried to change the rules to
make it much more difficult for future petition candidates to be
elected. The College spent a lot of money attempting to get the
document ratified -- even hiring a public relations firm -- and some
wealthy alumni hired a pollster to do telephone push polling. But it
failed. It needed 67% approval to pass, and it only got 49%.

The next year -- and now we are talking about last Spring -- another
petition candidate ran for a Trusteeship under the traditional rules.
He is Stephen Smith '88, a legal scholar. (You can still see his
website here: http://www.stephensmithtrustee.com/page/1/) He won by a
clear majority took his seat as the only African-American man on
Dartmouth's Board. His campaign centered on bureaucratic bloat at our
College. He noted that the number of assistant deans and vice
presidents had ballooned in recent years, that Dartmouth was spending
a smaller and smaller fraction of its massive resources on the actual
classroom experience. Clearly, Mr. Smith said, there was an entrenched
bureaucracy problem. A separate College-commissioned report by the
McKinsey consulting firm said the same thing.

Probably you have already noticed this in dealing with the registrar,
ORL, the parking people, and a Safety & Security force that is now
bigger than the Hanover police department itself. But whether you have
noticed it or not, the bottom line is that a fat administration means a
lean faculty. Talk candidly with your professors -- particularly those
in the government and economics departments -- and they will tell you
that Dartmouth just plain needs more profs.

Mr. Smith's victory -- and we apologize for the long blitz; it is
almost over -- was the last straw. Asked by The D to comment on his
win, then-chairman Bill Neukom '64 said: "We have a new Trustee." His
unwillingness to say any more, or anything positive, was just as strong
a condemnation of Mr. Smith as if he had said something negative. And
implicitly this was also a slap in the face to the Dartmouth community
which elected him.

Quickly after Stephen Smith took his seat, the Board announced that it
would conduct a "study" to see whether it should reorganize itself. Not
surprisingly, the Board decided that indeed it should reorganize itself.
This was after hearing from thousands of current and former Dartmouth
students -- young, old, men, women, liberal, conservative -- who told
the Trustees that they shouldn't try to change the rules for elections
just because they aren't winning them.

But, in the midst of this serious debate about the direction of our
College, the Board did indeed change the rules -- shutting down the
debate in violation of all the academic principles Dartmouth holds
dear.

Acting on the advice of its Governance Committee, the Board doubled the
size of the unelected part of the Board and kept the duly elected half
at the same size. Further the Board delivered a dictum that effective
immediately the College will take over the Trustee election process. In
effect, the College is now in the hands of a powerful few, and more
divorced from the desires of the community than ever.

This is just a short synopsis of what has been a years-long saga at our
small, well-loved College. It is the story of tens of thousands of
voices coming together yearly to ask for innovation, evolution, and
improvement; it is the story of personal politics getting in the way of
progress. More than anything, though, it is the story of Dartmouth
struggling to keep its special place in academia. You came to
Dartmouth, not Williams. And you came to Dartmouth, not Harvard. Some
are not so sure Dartmouth should stay Dartmouth. And some are eager to
use Harvard's mediocrities as excuses for their own.

In the end, that is what this present squabble is all about. The
Association of Alumni, the official organization whose members are all
68,000 living graduates, is not meddling in how to run Dartmouth;
instead we are asking for help (an injunction) to prevent the Board
from making these harmful and regressive changes.

So that you know exactly what the Association of Alumni is asking of
our legal system, here we quote from the official request for a
judicial opinion:

"The Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College respectfully prays
for:

(a) a declaration of the Association's right to choose one-half
of Dartmouth's non-ex officio trustees through the Association's chosen
selection process;
(b) an injunction (i) barring the College from adding charter
trustees to its board, unless it seats an equal number of alumni
trustees chosen by the Association, and (ii) requiring the College to
continue seating alumni trustees chosen by the Association;
(c) an order that the College specifically perform its
contractual obligations and promises by seating equal numbers of
charter and alumni trustees chosen by the Association; and
(d) such other and further relief as the Court deems just."

Please ask yourself if these requests seem reasonable. You will be a
Dartmouth student for a very short while, and then a graduate for a
lifetime. The Association response, a last resort done with
considerable reluctance and deliberation, is intended to secure for
you, and for all alumni, the right to participate in defining what you
collectively think is best for our beloved Dartmouth.

Please do not hesitate to email us if you have any questions at all.

Extract of what was Filed

For all you legal aficionados the following is the bare bones version of what was filed yesterday morning by the AoA:

1. Motion Conclusion:
The Association respectfully requests that the Court issue a preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo by preventing the College from seating additional charter trustees pending the resolution of this matter.

2. Petition Prayer for Relief:
The Association of Alumni of Dartmouth College respectfully prays for:
(a) a declaration of the Association’s right to choose one-half of Dartmouth’s non-ex officio trustees through the Association’s chosen selection process;
(b) an injunction (i) barring the College from adding charter trustees to its board, unless it seats an equal number of alumni trustees chosen by the Association, and (ii) requiring the College to continue seating alumni trustees chosen by the Association;
(c) an order that the College specifically perform its contractual obligations and promises by seating equal numbers of charter and alumni trustees chosen by the Association; and
(d) such other and further relief as the Court deems just.

Also, here it the Times' brief roundup of the situation.

Further Reading

There is another article of interest in the Daily D today. It focuses on the over-subscription problem in the Economics Department. Professors are having to teach %50 more classes than normal just to keep up with demand. Which raises the question, why not put off finding a new administrator for "Sustainable Dartmouth", and instead focus on hiring more professors for the departments in desperate need of them.

Former Review Chief Writes In

The Daily D published a letter from former TDR Editor-in-Chief Dan Linsalata '07.

Do I think the Governance Committee made the right decision? No. Do I believe Ed Haldeman ‘70, Christine Bucklin ‘84, et al. are acting like children who want to change the rules of a playground kickball game simply because they’re losing? Absolutely. But can anything besides national embarrassment for the College come from alumni suing their own alma mater? Not a chance.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why the Board's changes are fundamentally unhealthy for Dartmouth

AoA blitzed this to Alumni this morning.
FROM THE DARTMOUTH ASSOCIATION OF ALUMNI:

An explanation of the Board's changes, and why they are fundamentally
unhealthy for Dartmouth.

As most of the Dartmouth community knows, the Board of Trustees passed
several significant changes affecting Board size, structure and
selection at its September 7th meeting. These changes were recommended
by the Board's Governance Committee, which presented its Final Report to
the Board the week before its meeting.

At first blush, this seems quite proper and laudable. However, a
closer examination of the Governance Committee's approach and
recommendations, and the Board's actions reveal some very troubling
issues. The Governance Committee clearly sought out opinions and views
that matched their own, and studiously ignored input from those who
disagreed with their preconceived notions. Each of its members
unabashedly favored the proposed (and defeated) new constitution of
2006. Many of the recommendations of the Governance Committee echoed
the changes proposed in that constitution, which a clear majority of
alumni rejected. Furthermore, the Executive Committee of the
Association of Alumni -- the only directly-elected representative body
of all alumni – also voiced its clear opposition to many of these
changes. Not only did the Governance Committee fail to consult with
the Executive Committee as it put together its Final Report, but when
the EC requested a meeting with the GC at the 11th hour, the GC still
refused to tell the EC what it was recommending to the Board. The
Governance Committee also declined to include the EC's survey results
(which again clearly showed the public rejection of many of the GC's
presumed recommendations) in its Final Report to the Board. The GC
would only consent to include the EC's own letter, explaining the
results of its survey, in the packet that was sent to the Board.

Still, the Trustees did receive these results, and were certainly able
to consider them before they took action on September 7. The Board
also received many individual submissions from alumni, weighing in on
the issues up for consideration. Regardless of what the GC recommended
to the Board, it was the Board of Trustees that dismissed alumni
concerns and wishes, and instead decided to strip away much of the
alumni's historic role in governance of the College.

The Board of Trustees has issued a statement, and followed up that
statement with a considerable public relations effort, explaining its
actions. But we contend that the explanation itself was misleading and
the representations of benefits were disingenuous.

We feel that the alumni, indeed the entire Dartmouth community, deserve
a clear, honest description of the changes passed by the Board, and what
those changes portend for the College. Thus, we set forth such a
description below.

1. Increase the size of the Board of Trustees. In his official letter
to the Dartmouth community, Board of Trustees President Ed Haldeman
describes the change that increased the size of the board thus: "expand
the board by adding more alumni to better meet the needs of the
college." But what the Board actually did was abandon the balance
between alumni-elected Trustees and administration-appointed "Charter"
Trustees. Rather than the historic balance of 8 alumni-elected
Trustees, and 8 appointed "Charter" Trustees, the Board left the number
of alumni-elected Trustees at 8, but doubled the number of
non-alumni-elected Charter Trustees. Much like FDR's notorious Supreme
Court manipulation, the Board of Trustees have "packed the court." By
reducing the percentage of alumni-elected Trustees from 50% (a level it
has been at since 1891), to 33%, the Board has guaranteed that
alumni-elected Trustees (and viewpoints) will always be in the
minority.

Haldeman's letter also claimed the "expansion" would "ensure" that the
Board "has the broad range of backgrounds, skills, expertise, and
fundraising capabilities needed to steward an institution of
Dartmouth's scope and complexity." A larger board may, indeed, add new
skills and expertise – but it is absolutely untrue that this requires
robbing alumni of their voting rights. In fact, a study of the
alumni-elected Trustees reveals a much broader range of skills,
background, and expertise than the charter Trustees. If history is any
guide, if current make-up is any indication, the new board will be more
homogenous, not less.

Haldeman also says that the new rules passed by the Board will "give
the Board more flexibility to select Trustees who offer the specific
talents and experiences that the College needs, which elections don't
ensure." This vague "flexibility" is really the flexibility to ignore
elections. This may sound melodramatic, but it is sadly quite accurate.
The Board has decided it does not like the folks that the alumni are
electing, so they are simply doubling the number of Trustees they can
choose themselves, without any elections whatsoever. This is a very
serious abrogation – a true assault on democracy for all alumni.

2. Mr. Haldeman's second point was that the changes passed would
"preserve alumni democracy by retaining alumni Trustee elections."
This would be laughably misleading, if it were not also deeply
worrisome in what it seems to imply. Yes, the Board "preserved"
alumni's right to elect 8 Trustees. But, as we have seen, it also
doubled the number of Charter Trustees, thus effectively and
permanently keeping alumni-elected Trustees in the minority. Even more
troubling is the fact that the Board lists this as a privilege. We are
very concerned that the Board of Trustees is paving the way for a
future total elimination of alumni-elected Trustees, laying the
groundwork now by framing such elections as a special privilege, not a
clear and inalienable right. Haldeman goes on to say Dartmouth has the
highest proportion of alumni-elected Trustees. Yes (at least, we did
before that proportion was slashed in half), but that is one of the
signature qualities of Dartmouth governance, one of the differences
that has made Dartmouth great, that has kept a respect for tradition
and alumni concerns, that has reined in rash or ill-conceived changes
to the fundamental and unique Dartmouth culture and experience.
Dartmouth has long been held up and admired for this strong alumni
role, and instead the Board has sought to "dumb down" our governance to
match other, less successful models, and ones that were never created
for Dartmouth herself.

3. Next, Mr. Haldeman gives us "simplify the alumni nomination
process." Translation: Strip the Association of Alumni and the Alumni
Council of their historic role in running Trustee elections (as our
constitution specifies), and supplant these alumni bodies with the will
and judgment of the Board of Trustees. The new rules would, in fact,
permit only one formal nominee for each open seat, and that person
would be automatically elected unless an opponent presents him/herself.
And then, the Board has given itself broad new powers to heavily
regulate the elections that would result. This change eliminates the
role of the AoA and the Alumni Council until such time as we behave
(presumably stop nominating these pesky petition candidates who refuse
to tow the line), at which point the Board may "consider permitting"
the alumni organizations to resume their administration of the process.
This is a huge change, and a complete abrogation of alumni's role in
governance and elections.

Also buried in this section of Mr. Haldeman's report is the
"explanation" that "Dartmouth's Trustee elections have become
increasingly politicized, costly and divisive." This is almost
entirely because the Board and the administration so vehemently oppose
the viewpoints of the petition candidates that they do everything in
their power to defeat them and to defame them during the campaign. We
have heard from every petition candidate of nasty, unethical and
shockingly ad hominem attacks on them, orchestrated by the College and
the Board, during their campaigns. And yet, still, is the solution to
"divisive" elections to simply abandon democracy? Are we comfortable,
as the Dartmouth community, to say that when the debate gets too
heated, we should gag the speakers and run them out of town? This seems
to be the Trustees' solution.

4. Mr. Haldeman claims that the Board has also passed changes that will
"Improve Direct Board Engagement with Alumni and Other Stakeholders."
Laudable goal, we agree. But there is no reason to believe that any of
these changes will improve engagement between alumni and the Board. In
fact, from every change the Board has made, it seems quite clear that
they are totally uninterested in what the alumni want or have to say.
We see no reason to expect more engagement with alumni, at least not
the majority views. Haldeman mentions creating new Board committees;
new Board committees are fine, but none of these other, damaging
changes were necessary to create new Board committees.

Most of us might reply that increasing the size of the Board could,
indeed, help create more "engagement" between the Board and alumni,
simply because there are more Trustees with whom to engage, and more
bodies to populate these new committees. But the flaw in that argument
is this: increasing the size of the Board could easily have been
accomplished without robbing alumni of their role in governance – as
easy as doubling the number of BOTH elected and charter Trustees. This
was such an obvious solution, that even Mr. Haldeman could not ignore
it in his letter. His explanation was this: "given the divisiveness
of recent elections, we did not believe that having more elections
would be good for Dartmouth."

5. Trustees chosen for specific talents. "We also believe," continues
Mr. Haldeman, "that the board needs more Trustees selected for the
specific talents and experiences they can offer the College, which
elections can't guarantee." Why not? Elections -- free, clear, with
a full-throated debate and exchange of ideas -- are the very best way
to put forth the requirements of a job, and the qualifications of the
candidates. Then, let the voters decide -- if you trust them. Which
the Board of Trustees clearly does not. It seems the only guarantee
they are seeking is the guarantee that future Trustees will match their
own description of what and who a Trustee should be and believe. We
find this deeply arrogant as well as terribly ominous for the future of
the College.

One thing Haldeman didn't even bother to mention in his communication
to the Dartmouth community was the reactivation of a long-dormant
Executive Committee within the Board, using the new additional
Trustees. This is an device to make sure that all the real decisions
are concentrated in a small elite group, hand-picked by the
administration, and excluding all dissenters. We saw a preview of this
with the Governance Committee, which did not include a single petition
candidate, despite the fact that the last four Trustees elected in a
row have been petition candidates. What hope have we, then, that any
petition candidates, that anyone representing the average member of the
Dartmouth community, will ever have a role in College governance again?

In sum, the Executive Committee of the Association of Alumni, as the
only directly-elected body designed to protect alumni interests, feels
very strongly that the changes passed by the Board do severe harm to
the College. We should note that this is the opinion of the majority
of the EC, not the unanimous opinion.

But you need not take our word for it. In the run up to these radical
changes, both the Association and the Board heard from thousands of
impassioned current and former students. They overwhelmingly opposed
any changes made in reaction to elections whose results displeased a
small number of people in Parkhurst and on the Board.

Senior Tatyana Liskovich recently penned a letter in The Dartmouth
Independent call "Democracy Goes Down Swinging." You can read the whole
letter here:

but let us end this email by quoting Tatyana:

"There is nothing wrong with financially supporting your alma mater and
then having an interest in how that school is run, in fact that is the
principle on which alumni participation is anchored. Until now,
Dartmouth College has been commendably unique among peer institutions
in the nature of its elected Board, the balance between democratic
participation of alumni providing an independent check against
executive control. This level of investment and post-graduation
involvement is what has made the school not simply a four-year
study-drink-study hurrah, but a community of which you are a part, for
life. After all, it is 'a small college...and yet there are those who
love it,' let us not lose the right to vote our dedication. Not on our
watch."

Not can we, but should we?

A couple of weeks ago Tatyana Liskovich (Disclosure: Liskovich is Editor-in-Chief of Aporia, the Dartmouth Philosophy Journal, a publication for which I edit) wrote to the Dartmouth Independent. In the letter she claims all the hubbub over whether the 1891 agreement was contractual or not is misplaced. People shouldn't be debating whether the board can overturn the agreement, but whether they should.

It is an excellent letter to the editor, and one that inexcusably escaped my notice earlier this Fall. Please read it.

For Tatyana Liskovich's letter go here.

Welcome Freshman, New TDR now online

Back by popular demand, the first issue of The Dartmouth Review this Fall is now online. Inside:

Meir Kohn: Administration = Ministry of Truth

Also in the Daily D this morning is a great op-ed piece from Meir Kohn, an economics professor at Dartmouth. Known across campus as one of the most difficult, yet absolutely rewarding, professors at Dartmouth. Here's what he was to say:

Governance is not a problem peculiar to Dartmouth. All large organizations — business corporations and government agencies as well as nonprofits like Dartmouth — are run by managers or administrators. Human nature being what it is, these managers or administrators tend to use the power delegated to them for their own advantage. Instead of simply performing the functions with which they are charged, they divert their efforts and the organization’s resources to furthering their own interests. This is not because they are bad people; it is because they are perfectly normal people and so have difficulty resisting temptation. The problem of governance is the problem of limiting such undesirable behavior.

[. . .]

It is not that administrative misbehavior is unusually bad at Dartmouth. What is unusual is the ability of Dartmouth alumni to elect to the board some trustees not hand-picked by the administration. This peculiarity offered a potential mechanism of governance, and a number of alumni were sufficiently public-spirited to try to turn this potential into reality. It is hardly surprising that the administration did not welcome this initiative. With remarkable brutality, the administration and its friends on the board have acted to neutralize it. Contrary to the pronouncements of the Ministry of Truth, the board did not vote to strengthen governance at Dartmouth: it voted to prevent it. With this avenue cut off, we remain without any effective mechanism of governance. There is therefore no constraint on the potential misbehavior of this or any future administration.

The complete essay is available here.

Wright: I've got lawyers too

President Wright blitzed out to the Dartmouth Community this morning. It was in response to the AoA's announcement last night.

Statement by President James Wright

You may have read in the The Dartmouth this morning that the Executive Committee of the Association of Alumni, by a divided vote, decided last night to have the Association file a lawsuit against the College concerning the governance changes adopted by the Board of Trustees earlier this month and to seek an injunction to prevent the Board from filling any of the new charter trustee seats authorized by the Board.

I am deeply disappointed that some members of the Association Executive Committee have decided to take this action, which can only harm the College. Although the Association's formal legal complaint has not yet been served on the College, the College has been advised by its attorneys that the Board has full authority to enlarge the Board as it did and make the other governance changes that it authorized, and that there is no merit to the legal claims asserted by the Executive Committee members who voted to bring the suit. The College is well-prepared to respond to this legal action.

Ed Haldeman, Chair of the Board, has asked me to share the following statement with all members of the College community:

"While I respect the many different views held by Dartmouth's alumni on
governance issues, I think it's regrettable that a small group of individuals would cause the Alumni Association to file a lawsuit against the College, particularly when there is no legal basis for the suit. It's certainly not in the best interest of the College or its students for Dartmouth to be tied up with costly and counterproductive litigation. I would hope instead that thoughtful alumni and friends of Dartmouth would come together in support of our common goal of continuing to build on Dartmouth's world-class academic programs."

While the action by some members of the Executive Committee to sue the College is ill-advised, I hope that it will not prove a distraction to the good work of the faculty, students, and staff. Dartmouth is in great shape and we need to continue to focus on continuing to provide the best experience possible for our students.
A couple of thoughts: Haldeman argues, "It's certainly not in the best interest of the College or its students for Dartmouth to be tied up with costly and counterproductive litigation." I think most alumni would say that it's not in the College's best interest to be controlled by an unaccountable cabal of Harvard wannabes.

Also, I find it deeply disturbing that, as a student, money I pay to the college is funding Jim Wright's self-serving interests.

Association to file Lawsuit; Spalding still a Lapdog

The Association of Alumni announced late last night that they would file a lawsuit against the Board of Trustees requesting an injunction. The injunction would prevent the board from seating any new charter members. The vote was 6-3 in favor of the injunction—no points for guessing where David Spalding voted.

The Association’s Executive Committee believes that the selection of one-half of the trustees by Dartmouth alumni remains vital to ensure Dartmouth College’s progress, prominence, and usefulness as America’s finest undergraduate College. Alumni selection of trustees encourages Dartmouth alumni to take a lively interest in the College’s affairs and to devote their attention to its needs; ensures that the College benefits from the advice and experience of its great body of successful graduates; and ensures that those who love Dartmouth the most—its sons and daughters—have responsibility for its future.

The Executive Committee believes it has a duty to act in the best interests of Dartmouth College and its alumni, and it believes that it can best serve those interests by seeking a judicial opinion as to the propriety of the board’s planned governance changes, and by ensuring to the greatest extent possible that the responsibility of alumni for Dartmouth College’s governance is not diminished.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

“Take a shotgun and blow your TV off”

Tired of hearing the same old thing from mainstream candidate after mainstream candidate? Then learn about the candidate who saved Bill Clinton's life—amongst other things. Here.

UPDATE

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dartmouth Medical School Receives $20 Million

The largest ever donation to Dartmouth Medical School and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center was recently announced. The donation of $20 million came from Peter Williamson '58 and his wife Susan. Williamson, a professor of neurology, is the director of the hospital's Epilepsy program.

Williamson wants the bulk of his donation to go to "translational research", which focuses on getting discoveries in the laboratory to the patients most in need of them.

Wright named "New Englander of the Year"

President James Wright was named "New Englander of the Year" by the New England Council. The Council is recognizing him for his work with veterans from both Afghanistan and Iraq. Wright will share the award with Peter Meade, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Representative Barney Frank, who, it seems, after a checkered past (he was formally reprimanded in 1990 "for his relationship with a male prostitute") has turned things around. Then again, maybe not. This summer he called Mitt Romney "the most intellectually dishonest human being in the history of politics." Should we be at all concerned that Wright is sharing an award with a man...so given to hyperbole?

The complete press release is here.