Tuesday, April 22, 2008

(Mis)representing Dartmouth Students to Alumni

The Dartmouth Review has obtained the text of a letter "from Dartmouth students" denouncing the AoA lawsuit that Dartmouth Undying will be releasing Thursday. The letter, titled "From Dartmouth Students to Alumni" is being circulated for signatures among campus leaders deemed "receptive" to the anti-lawsuit cause. It appears that the letter was written solely by Bonnie Lam, who has obviously consulted every single Dartmouth student to find out how they feel about the lawsuit before speaking on their behalf. Below is the text of the blitz sent out by Bonnie Lam to around 50 selected student leaders along with the full text of the letter itself.

UPDATE: A member of the Panhellenic Council has informed us that at last night's meeting Lam was opposed to printing the letter in the Daily Dartmouth or releasing it to the student body at large in any way *before* Dartmouth Undying publishes it. What a great way to ensure Dartmouth students' voices are being heard.

UPDATE 2: Miss Lam is now claiming that she is not the author of the letter. —A.S.

UPDATE 3: And...now she's claiming that she is the partial author. —A.S.

UPDATE 4: There is a claim in the comments that we here at The Dartmouth Review are illiterate. The foundation for the claim? That nowhere in the letter does it purport to be from Dartmouth students, nowhere in the body of the letter that is. The title of the letter is "From Dartmouth Students to Alumni." The PDF of the original letter is below. —A.S.


Date: 22 Apr 2008 11:17:44 -0400
From: Bonnie F. Lam
Subject: update on the letter
To: (Recipient list suppressed)

Hey Guys!
So I just wanted to thank you all for supporting this effort. Please continue to reach out to anyone you know who may be receptive to this idea. Alums unfortunately identify and understand titles most, so it's very important that we all try to get as many campus leaders as possible to show the strong support of this letter.

The letter will be printed on Thursday so I need electronic signatures/agreements by Thursday morning. The format will be as follows: the letter on one page with signatures on the other. Signatures will have position of leadership of each person beneath. A disclaimer will on the top of that page explicitly saying in much better prose that the signatures do not mean support from the entire organization, just from that specific individual who signed. If you have ANY RESERVATIONS with this, PLEASE talk to me and we can figure something out.

Attached is the letter which you can show to friends who would think about supporting the cause. Please DO NOT distribute it to people you KNOW would not be receptive.


And the letter itself after the jump:
As leaders within the Dartmouth undergraduate community, we believe the lawsuit brought against the College by the Association of Alumni Executive Committee is the wrong means to an end upon which we all agree: the distinguished prominence of Dartmouth College.

We come from different backgrounds, have different political affiliations, and owe our allegiances to different groups across campus. Yet, we have a common, love for the College on the Hill. Our views widely differ on whether the Board of Trustees should maintain parity between trustees nominated by alumni and those appointed by the Board. That is not the issue here.

As the Editorial Board of The Dartmouth agrees, the lawsuit is "harming the College." We are united against the lawsuit because it prevents an open and balanced community-wide dialogue. It limits that dialogue to a set of legal terms and boundaries that inaccurately reflect the complexities of Dartmouth's continued educational excellence. It serves as a public misrepresentation of the Dartmouth community and the nature of divisions within it.

Dartmouth's position as one of the leading undergraduate institutions in the world will never be the result of a simple equation ensured by a court ruling. It is the result of a constellation of experiences best understood through the lens of students and within the Dartmouth community. No single issue will ever define us or Dartmouth.

We implore the alumni body to consider our perspective and to reflect deeply about the dimensions of the lawsuit facing Dartmouth. Better yet, we urge you to get in touch with current students, faculty, and the administration to get the real story about today's Dartmouth.

We ask that you take the time to consider voting in the Association of Alumni election for a executive committee that consider ending the lawsuit and work in an amicable and independent manner with the College, bringing truly healthy dissent and different perspectives to the administration in a way that will benefit us all. Together, not divided, we can collaborate for the betterment of our College.

Mailing cost for this message has been paid for by Dartmouth Undying as a service to Dartmouth Alumni. The message was created, prepared and signed solely by students. Dartmouth Undying did not solicit this message. A signature on this letter does not necessarily imply support for Dartmouth Undying.


A.S. Erickson said...

N.B. We've fixed the commenting function on this post.

Student Mailman said...

"Mailing cost for this message has been paid for by Dartmouth Undying as a service to Dartmouth Alumni. The message was created, prepared and signed solely by students. Dartmouth Undying did not solicit this message. A signature on this letter does not necessarily imply support for Dartmouth Undying."

Mailing cost for this message has been paid for by the Hanover Institute as a service to Dartmouth Alumni. The message was created, prepared and signed solely by Dartmouth Alumni. The Hanover Institute did not solicit this message. A signature on this letter does not necessarily imply support for the Hanover Institute.

The first is OK, but the second is e-e-evil. Oh, my.

Anonymous said...

If Miss Lam is not the true author of the letter, then the true author of the letter is presumably on the lam.

ratster said...

Thanks for making up the second disclaimer, mailman. Too bad the original letter did not contain it. Too bad it would be false if it did, since the message was created by the Hanover Institute's Secretary and solicited and supported by the Hanover Institute. Too bad the original letter fraudulently claimed to be sent by the Alumni Association. Too bad the original letter might have used the AA letterhead illegally. If only the Exec. Comm. would behave honestly for a change...

Maybe you should propose that if the Hanover Institute can't put a truthful disclaimer of responsibility on its mailings, it should get out of AA business.

DartAlum said...

I do not really see where Lam is misrepresenting student opinion. She clearly references the undersigned and does not pretend to represent all of students on campus.

Given the Hanover Institute is now sending out mailers with Zak Moore's DartBlog posts attached to them, I would argue Lam is doing a much better job authentically representing student opinion than the HI and parity slate.

This is definitely news...It is important that current undergrads know that these letters are out there. The Review is doing the issue wrong by attacking the author for stupid reasons. There is news here, but it is not Lam "misrepresenting" students. It's the fact that students on both sides are getting their voices heard by alums outside of getting published in The Daily Dartmouth or the Review.

07 Alum said...

The thing that stands out to me most in Lam's letter (or rather, in her blitz to students), is the explicit request that they not share the letter with anyone who would not sympathize with it. To me, that sends the message of, "We know we are not truly representing student opinion, but we want to pretend we are before anyone catches on."

I'd like to know what her concern about people with oppossing views getting their hands on it. What does she not want them to see or know? (Yes, obviously a moot point now, but it still suggests that she is being at least moderately disingenuous here.)

apparently not a Dartmouth Student said...

As a student I feel uncomfortable with the idea of not knowing that a letter is being sent out all alumni "From Dartmouth Students." I just don't think that this is something Lam should be hiding from the campus as a whole.

Today's article in The Dartmouth says that Lam claims Molly Bode '09 (SA President) plans to sign the letter. According to the article, Bode denies this. Travis Green '08 (former SA President) has signed the letter but says that he would not have had he been current SA president. Perhaps Bode began to rethink her decision after seeing that the student body as a whole does not actually agree with the contents or censorship?

apparently not a dartmouth student said...

dartalum -
Perhaps you missed the part of the story that says the letter is headed "From Dartmouth Students to Alumni"?

A clear misrepresentation from my point of view. According to that header, I agree with the contents of the letter and am aware that it is being mailed to all Dartmouth alumni.

D'10 said...

Bonnie Lam '10 is clearly a mouth piece for a particular sect of Alumni (who she probably believes will reward her with fabulous jobs at Goldman Sachs in return for her services) that she came in contact with through the incredibly shadowy and self-serving Hillwinds Society. She is clearly over-stepping her bounds as she hold NO elected office in ANY branch of student government and can claim no constituency aside from AZD (who have discredited themselves through their Beta-bitching). I applaud Molly Bode, who is a sincere and forthright leader for not allowing her personal friendship (it seems) with Bonnie Lam to cloud her judgment and follow with Bonnie Lam's personal agenda. I would hope that Bode stays out of all this mudslinging, but if Student Assembly must enter it, there should be an honest dialogue and measure of student support.

... but what do I know?

Anonymous said...

DartBoard says:

"Dartmouth's position as one of the leading undergraduate institutions in the world ... is the result of a constellation of experiences best understood through the lens of students and within the Dartmouth community."

"The letter is typical undergrad pap -- not compelling at all."

The second comment applies to the first, though made by "DartBroad" in response to a letter from a student with the opposite view.

Anonymous said...

More Review sensationalism. You guys have jumped the shark. Nowhere does Lam claim to be representing all students. Use your education and learn to read.

W. Aubin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine S. Tian said...

"She can claim no constituency other than AZD (who have discredited themselves through their Beta-bitching)."

I'm sorry to bring up an old and tired topic, but that's definitely not fair. All the statements from AZD leadership have acknowledged Beta's right to return to the house that they own. Any inflammatory commentary on the Beta situation, including the march/petition for more female-controlled social spaces, was not initiated by AZD.


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