Friday, May 09, 2008

The AoA lawsuit muckraking continues

Once again, William Schpero made it to the front page of today's daily Dartmouth for what seems to be the only role he plays in that publication - exposing the lies disseminated by the AoA executive committee majority. Thankfully, this particular article is surprisingly unbiased and actually mentions pro-lawsuit executive committee member, Frank Gado's opinions. Now if only that part made it to the front page along with AoA President Bill Hutchinson's claims that the AoA executive committee never made sufficient attempts for dialogue with the Board of Trustees prior to the board-packing plan.

More after the jump.

The article conveniently begins with
In the race for the executive committee of the Association of Alumni, supporters of the Association’s lawsuit against the College have claimed that the Board of Trustees ignored or denied several of the Association’s requests to meet prior to the Board’s September announcement of changes to Dartmouth’s governance structure. Board Chairman Ed Haldeman ‘70, however, said ... Association President Bill Hutchinson ‘76, who opposes the suit, has maintained, along with College officials, that the executive committee made “one and only one” attempt to meet with the Board, and the Board complied.

Then the first paragraph after the fold, is the first to mention Frank Gado. The rest of the article continues to offer Gado's claims as a counterpoint to Hutchinson's.

Later in today's issue, the Opinion Page prints their Verbum Ultimum column. In this column they explicitly cite Schpero's article as if the entirety of the article were what was printed on the front page:
As today’s news article (“AoA members differ on dealings with Board”) makes clear, the executive committee made only one official effort at a meeting with the Board to discuss the proposed governance changes before they were announced publicly. Even though pro-lawsuit members of the committee and their supporters have claimed that the committee persistently and seriously pursued the option of mediation, no resolution was ever passed on the matter.

Thank god, the Opinion section printed J. Michael Murphy's (petition candidate, class of '61) article, which states the facts and points out how Bill Hutchinson, John Mathias '69, and the Verbum Ultimum's accusations are misleading.


Anonymous said...

The Schpero article is actually pretty good. It gets quotes from both "sides" and basically puts them side-by-side so that people can actually see what each side's response to the other is. The D's "analysis" label is a little generous, but otherwise I'm not sure what the problem is.

Also, I don't understand the quibbling over the ordering of the paragraphs in the article or what was and wasn't on the front page. Does anyone with an opportunity to vote in the AoA election read the print version of the D? What's "convenient" about the way the article begins, and in what way does the Verbum Ultimum article suggest that the entirety of the Schpero article is printed on the front page?

Anonymous said...

Also, the Murphy is very strange. In one paragraph, he chides the DU crowd with the words "Demonizing your opponents is a tired tactic from the national political scene," then proceeds to demonize the DU slate in more or less the same terms he complains about.

The Murphy piece is ironically titled "time for candor." It's indeed time for candor, but there isn't much to be had from either side thus far.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Forgetting the side-issue of "fold positioning", Schpero's article does present most of the facts (though not all) with a reasonably neutral tone. Decent work by anyone trying to piece the story of last summer together.

Of interest today is the question asked by candidate Murphy:
"Do we want Dartmouth’s loyal alumni to continue to democratically elect half of the College’s trustees? Or should the Board be controlled by moneyed insiders who will forevermore be insulated from the views of alumni?"

And the reply provided by the D's student editors:
"Money Talks...few metrics can practically gauge the extent of one’s dedication to an institution as well as the amount of money one donates...shouldn’t the people who’ve made the biggest investments in the College wield the most control?"

Money is important, and there is a role for having some trustees not only give money in large sums, but also serve as a visible example to others.

That said, what an insult to alumni to suggest that their personal dedication is to be gauged by a financial measure in which those of lesser means are disadvantaged. What an insult to their College to suggest that she should sell herself to the highest bidder? There is another name for that, or is this all "just business"?

Dartmouth and her alumni are both better than what these few student writers suggest.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there's an unseemly implication in the D editorial board's argument, but it's to their credit that they're actually discussing the issue of what role alumni should have in college governance.

It's a welcome change from the democracy vs. tyranny rhetoric from the parity side, and also a welcome change from the statement by the Board of Trustees that they increased the number of appointed trustees "to involve more alumni in Dartmouth's governance and bring additional skills, capabilities and expertise that can help meet the needs of the College."

The debate is long overdue. I happen to think that a 1:2 proportion of elected to appointed trustees isn't a bad balance to strike, particularly when the election process has been heavily influenced by outside political groups and money, and when the most recent decision by the alumni's "elected representatives" is to sue the College. More generally, the average alum doesn't know much about College governance, and if Dartmouth had made the wishes of its alumni paramount throughout its history, it would probably still be men-only.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Anon 3:10:

Some of we pro-parity people have written previously on the role alumni should have, and not have, in alumni and college governance.

We have also written as to the benefit of a balance (I prefer 1:1) between trustee nominees elected by 70,000 alumni in open elections and additional nominees chosen by an appointed committee of five meeting in secret.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Some of "us" pro-parity people... apologies to FG.

It is not that the debate is long overdue, but that the arguments of the opposition have not been granted more serious consideration. There have been many posts on these threads, and opinion pieces in the D, on the role of alumni.

Anonymous said...

Dartmouth Undying = Dartmouth University

Anonymous said...

Petition Parity = Pretty Pathetic

Let's move on to something worthwhile

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dreisbach, I've read every post on Dartlog, I've loosely followed the D, I've occasionally visited the other Dartmouth blogs, and I haven't seen any of the substantive commentary you speak of. What I have seen is:

* personal attacks on the people who oppose parity

* statements that the Trustees have lost some elections and are now trying to change the rules (which is a fair point, but has nothing to do with whether alumni *should* be involved in College governance to the degree the parity people want)

* conclusory statements that "democracy" and "accountability" are better than "secrecy"

* some discussion of whether the 1891 agreement is a binding contract or not and, if so, what it entails


* sniping back and forth about whether each side has misrepresented the other

If I'm mistaken, and if any of the parity folks have made any thoughtful, substantive arguments about why it's in Dartmouth's best interest to have all of the alumni significantly represented in College governance, I'd appreciate it if you'd point me in that direction.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Anon 3:44 and 3:10. It would be easier if you identified yourself, at least with a pseudonym.

You can find prior discussion on the role of alumni in governance in many places, including the following:

Is the Decision Good for Dartmouth

Alumni Governance

Alumni Power

And for discussion, here is a personal view extracted from a letter I recently sent to a current student who asked why alumni should be involved:

The College's mission is to educate individuals such as yourself, in and outside the classroom, who will then leverage your talents and that education, as the next generation of societal leaders. Who better to assess how Dartmouth is doing in that regard that prior products of that educational system. I have seen how the strengths of Dartmouth helped me, and its weaknesses did not. By staying in touch with the College and current students (5% of all living alumni live within 50 miles of campus), I can observe how those strengths have grown, or weakened, and how formerly-weak areas have improved, or remain to be addressed. Believe me that while my experience at Dartmouth was incredible, it is not one I wish to force on you or someone else 20 years from now.

This is not to say I am personally mister know-it-all. But there are 70,000 alumni whose insights collectively are of incredible value. And this is not to even say that the alumni body is always right. Far from it. But it is the only group who does not have a personal conflict of interest in trying to decide what is best for the College overall. Dartmouth faculty are incredible, and most are devoted to their work. But at times they must make tradeoffs with career interests. Ditto staff people who are employees of the institution. Even students and parents of current students (I was one of these also) have potential conflicts, as what is beneficial in the immediate term may not be the best course of action for the long term. Only alumni operate without the pressures of such conflicts (unless they are hoping their legacies will be admitted).

Even with all this, it is still not the job of alumni to run the place. But given these arguments, it is my opinion that alumni should have a role in governance, deciding who the deciders will be. I trust 70,000 thoughtful alums to do at least as good a job to choose trustee nominees, via an open election process wherein important challenges are open for discussion in the Dartmouth community, as much as five appointed members of the governance committee picking nominees secretly behind closed doors. For that reason, I want to see parity maintained in the selection process. And I question why those who want to eliminate it are so afraid of it!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a fair question. Mr. Tim Dreisbach '71 was one of the officers of the Association who filed the lawsuit against Dartmouth trustees. When it came time for reelection, Mr. Dreisbach chose not to stand because he was "too busy or had other interests". Thus, he is not standing to defend his position. Yet he seems to have endless time to write letters and blog here and on the Association blog. The question is - how does he explain this inconsistency?

Anonymous said...

8:30, that's a stupid question. The letters and blog posts are consistent with the position that the lawsuit should continue, no?

Views are still the same, time commitments/priorities have changed, maybe?

I'd like to see the lawsuit die, but I don't see any unexplained consistency in Mr. Dreisbach's desire to pass the baton to someone else.

at a loss for a decent pseudonym for now said...

Thanks for the links, Mr. Dreisbach. Perhaps I should read the AoA blog more often. The discussion in the comments there--on both sides of the controversy--is much better than what's going on here and in the op-ed pages of the D.

Anonymous said...

Dartlog Observer says,

8:30: Not a stupid question, but rather a clever deflection. Why do you change the discussion from the issues of alumni governance to one of an individual person's motives?

Anon 3:44/3:10 observed that there have been personal attacks on the opponents of parity. I think if he looks back over the discussions on the AoA blog, he will find many more examples of personal attacks on the pro-parity "Gang of 7 then 6" used to obfuscate any discussion on the merits of their arguments.

8:30 tries a variation on this same strategy, without commenting on the substance of Dreisbach's comments. Oh, I get it. This thread is supposed to be about muckraking.

I am interested in the question... what is wrong with parity and why have those opposed to it been willing to risk angering alumni to the point of a lawsuit?

parody said...

Mr. Murphy treats a novel and frankly unworkable proposal as if it already existed:

Do we want Dartmouth’s loyal alumni to continue to democratically elect half of the College’s trustees?

Do we want Dartmouth's loyal alumni to start democratically electing any of the College's elected trustees?

He should write up this idea and submit it to the appropriate authorities. Judging from how poorly the most recent nominees have performed, we may doubt whether Mr. Murphy's proposal will find a warm reception.