Alumni Association Steps In

The President of the Association of Alumni, John Walters ’62, has responded to critics who claim that the Association and Council have been using their offices to promote the official candidates at the expense of the petition candidates.

Below is his email to John Sharer ’72, sent yesterday. It follows up on a series of emails they exchanged earlier this month. (Emphasis added)

Hi John – I do owe you an apology for not closing the loop after our earlier exchange of emails on the above issue. Frankly, just keeping up with the daily happenings relating to the election campaign (not to mention my day job!) have made it difficult to look back at earlier unfinished business.

The Balloting Committee has met on a regular basis to consider a variety of messages which have been sent out by alumni groups or an individual alumnus/a supporting or opposing different candidates, including the Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth. As I had indicated to you, our guidelines give us the ability to limit campaigning by the candidates themselves, and while we can also request a candidate to discourage indirect campaigning on his/her behalf, our Committee concluded that we do not have the power to direct a third party – whether it be an individual website or blog or an organization with a bias one way or the other – to cease and desist. Therefore, we were not in a position to demand that the website be taken down, as you had requested.

We have taken steps to assure that persons directly related to the College itself are not involved in campaigning activities and do not provide support to any person or group on behalf of a candidate. For example, we instructed Alumni Relations to delete the portion of Alumni Council President Karen Calby’s video supporting the Council candidates, and the College counsel also directed one of the alumni groups supporting the Council candidates (I believe it was the Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth) to remove the College Seal from its website. We also instructed Alumni Relations that under no circumstances should they make available to any alumnus/a or alumni group any information maintained by their office (mailing lists, data bases, etc.).

There has been considerable frustration regarding this election cycle on the part of many alumni, with totally different perspectives. The decision this year to permit each candidate to send out two emails during the balloting period, which was designed to address the concerns raised last year by some candidates who felt they were unfairly “muzzled”, has had mixed results, and it is clear that further modifications to the election guidelines and procedures are required to bring the campaign into step with the realities of the communications media available today.

Regards,
John

Mr. Sharer replied:

John:

Thank you for the time and trouble you took to put together such a thoughtful response. I also appreciate the instructions that you have given to the Alumni Office. I am completely satisfied with your response. My thanks to you and your colleagues on the Balloting Committee for their careful attention to my inquiry, and for all their hard work on what undoubtedly must be, on some days, a thankless task.

It is difficult to believe that twenty years have gone by since I served on the Alumni Council (1984-87), when you served as Council President during a part of your tenure. All best wishes for a very Happy Easter.

John ’72