Election of Dissidents Upsets the Status Quo at Dartmouth

Dartmouth College has reacted to the recent elections of independent candidates to its governing Board of Trustees by proposing a new constitution that would attempt to prevent such elections of outsiders. The college's action comes on the heels of elections in which several candidates, including Professor Todd Zywicki of Mason Law, bypassed the official nomination process and were able to place their names on the ballot through collection of alumni signatures, later winning seats on the Board of Trustees.

Dissidents at Dartmouth, The Wall Street Journal (Review & Outlook), September 1, 2006.

"The constitution is promoted as a measure to increase fairness and transparency, but in reality it would do neither. While the Alumni Council--already a bureaucratic labyrinth--is to be reorganized, it would actually become less representative, with more unelected positions with more power to pick Trustees than under the present arrangement. The revisions would also increase set-aside seats for groups defined by race or sexual orientation.

"As if to redouble the throbbing of the tell-tale heart, the alumni executives recently 'postponed' the elections for their own offices, in violation of their own bylaws, until after the constitution is given an up-or-down vote by the full alumni body. If it passes, the maneuver would entrench the leadership as currently comprised until at least 2009. Alumni would be left without democratically elected executives, let alone a say in Trustee nominations.

"And so a pattern emerges at Dartmouth, one interminably replicated on other campuses: The academic establishment wants to consolidate its authority and exclude those who might deviate from the party line. But in a democracy, the results are not supposed to be foreordained."