Where motley is worn, take 2

Since the election of maverick candidates T.J. Rodgers, Peter Robinson and Todd Zywicki to the Dartmouth board of trustees over Dartmouth’s officially selected candidates, authorities at the college have been intent on trying to prevent the scenario from recurring. I summarized our concerns and linked to previous posts on the subject in “Why the Wright stuff is wrong.”

Most recently, in “Where motley is worn” I briefly discussed the Dartmouth alumni group’s cancellation of the scheduled fall meeting and officer elections. The cancellation ensures that no new faces get elected before the proposed new constitution is passed. On June 5 the American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued a press release condemning the cancellation of the elections. The press release provides background and links to the relevant items. In short, the college is engaging in Third World-style political maneuvering, a backhanded kind of tribute to its celebration of “diversity.” The AP reported on the ACTA press release here.

Now the indefatigable Joe Malchow has prepared a “Timeline of Dirty Tricks” outlining the procedural shenanigans that supporters of the proposed new alumni constitution have undertaken to install their flawed document:

September, 2005: The Alumni Governance Task Force (AGTF) unveils a proposed constitutional overhaul for both the Dartmouth Association of Alumni and the Alumni Council; it contains new rules for the nomination, petition, and voting processes for trustees of the College.

October 23, 2005: Voting in Hanover, 400 alumni elect the new Executive Committee of the Association. One of the primary concerns raised is that only those alumni who are in Hanover may vote; the new officers promise to remedy this issue by allowing all-media voting for Association officers. The final act of the outgoing Executive Committee is to establish October 15th, 2006 as the date of the next annual meeting and officer elections.

November 1, 2005: The newly elected executive committee, just over a week into their roles, announces a proposed amendment to allow all alumni to vote on constitutional amendments (but not on officers), and calls for a special meeting in February for the alumni to vote on the amendment.

January 3, 2006: Four petition amendments are filed with the Association; the decision is made that, although they are each one line long, there is insufficient time for consideration and debate, and so they will not be voted on at the February meeting.

January 31, 2006: The Executive Committee opens its blog, claiming to hope “that it will become a valuable forum”, and that “comments, criticisms, questions, and musings are encouraged.” More often than not, however, questions are left unanswered and concerns are ignored.

February 12, 2006: 230 alumni meet in Hanover and approve the executive committee’s amendment to allow all media voting on future amendments. This removes the requirement that the constitution proposed by the AGTF be debated in person before it is placed on a ballot. The ratification threshold is lowered from 75% to 66.67%. The number of signatures required for a petition amendment is raised, and the executive committee decides to throw out the four amendments that were filed at the beginning of January.

In order to convince alumni to vote in favor of the omnibus amendment, the Executive Committee and Association leadership claim that the amendment exists solely to “allow” all media voting. However, it specifically does not allow all media voting for Association leadership elections, and the ratification clause of the AGTF proposal already requires an all media ratification, making this claim disingenuous.

February 14, 2006: The executive committee announces that the next order of business will be voting on the AGTF proposal, admitting implicitly that the purpose of the February 12 amendment was to change the rules in favor of ratification.

March 10, 2006: The AGTF releases their “penultimate” draft of the proposal, indicating that the next draft would be final.

March 24, 2006: A month and a half after the special meeting, the executive committee announces its new guidelines for voting on constitutional amendments. Buried within the new guidelines is the provision that they will tell the voting alumni whether to approve an amendment or not on the ballot itself, with a short essay. There is no provision for an opposition essay.

March 27, 2006: The AGTF holds a webcast to promote their proposal. Much of the discussion centers on concerns over the process for nominating trustees; all but two questions from the audience are critical of the changes.

April 14, 2006: The AGTF releases the third and purportedly final version of its document, this time professionally typeset and with a cover letter.

April 19, 2006: The executive committee announces that the Association will vote on the AGTF proposal from September 15th through October 31st, despite the fact that this brackets the scheduled annual meeting at which a new Executive Committee and new officers for the Association are to be elected.

May 20, 2006: The Alumni Council votes both to approve the AGTF proposal, and to give themselves the power to vote on additional changes to the document. The Alumni Association won’t know the exact text of the constitution to be voted on until two-and-a-half months prior to when the voting period begins.

May 26, 2006: The Executive Committee announces that, since they don’t want alumni to vote for new officers during the voting period on the new constitution, they will postpone the announced October 15, 2006 annual meeting and elections until “the first half of calendar year 2007,” promising again to allow all-media voting thereupon. This is in violation of the meeting guidelines, which state that the date of the annual meeting is determined at the prior meeting; it also requires a questionable interpretation of the word “annual”; namely, that “annual meeting” and “officers elected annually” permit eighteen months between meetings and eighteen-month terms of office.

CORRECTION: Joe Malchow notes that he did not prepare the timeline above. Joe also links to the timeline in PDF.

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