The Corner

Calling All Men and Women of Dartmouth

Voting begins today on a new slate of officers for the Association of Alumni. At stake: the governance—and the very character—of Dartmouth College.

A word of background:

Ever since the Agreement of 1891, the Board of Trustees has been composed of equal numbers of elected and unelected trustees. Displeased with recent elections, last September the Board of Trustees voted to end this longstanding parity. If the Board’s plan goes into effect, the number of charter trustees—that is, the unelected, self-perpetuating trustees—will double. And after possessing equal standing for more than a century, alumni trustees—that is, the trustees elected by graduates of Dartmouth College, the Tuck School of Business, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Dartmouth Medical School—these alumni trustees will find themselves outnumbered two to one.

A majority of the current officers of the Association of Alumni objected to the Board’s September decision—a decision referred to on campus as “the Board-packing plan”—and ultimately took the matter to court. A standstill agreement has placed the Board-packing plan  in abeyance until the litigation is resolved.

Which brings us back to the voting that begins today.

Now that the current officers of the Association of Alumni are approaching the ends of their terms, two slates of candidates are seeking to succeed them.

One slate stands for parity. If elected, this slate would continue the lawsuit. At the same time, it would open negotiations with the Board, seeking to preserve the longstanding parity between elected and unelected trustees.

The other slate supports the Board-packing plan. If elected, it would withdraw the lawsuit, permitting the Board-packing plan to take immediate effect.

My own views on the Board-packing plan are already public—an alumni trustee, I voted against the plan, then joined several other alumni trustees in submitting an amicus brief supporting the Association’s lawsuit. Here, however, I simply want to urge Dartmouth alumni to consider the arguments for and against the plan for themselves—and then vote.

The pro-parity slate—that is, the slate that opposes the Board-packing plan—has launched a website called “Dartmouth Parity.” You’ll find the website here. And you’ll find a sample ballot that indicates each member of the pro-parity slate by clicking here.

The anti-parity slate—that is, the slate that supports the Board-packing plan—has received the backing of a group called “Dartmouth Undying.” Its website is here.

For instructions on how to vote, go to the official Dartmouth website.

Again, all graduates of Dartmouth College, the Tuck School of Business, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Dartmouth Medical School may participate. Voting will continue until June 5.

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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