ASD Takes on Petition Candidates

Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth, a College-affiliated negative campaign group, has posted on their website a statement rebutting arguments made by petition candidates Peter Robinson ’79 and Todd Zywicki ’88. The rebuttal makes five main points:

  • ASD says that both petition candidates took out of context President Wright’s comment that Dartmouth is a “research university in all but name.” The group maintains that Wright accurately described Dartmouth, but they also point to a seemingly contradictory speech where he said Dartmouth would keep its undergraduate focus. That speech was in 1998. Since then, Wright has repeated this “we are a university” mantra on numerous occasions, most recently in February, when he defended himself by referencing his own comments about Dartmouth’s undergraduate focus.
  • Next, Strong Dartmouth says that both petition candidates were wrong to say that some academic departments lack the professors to meet student demand because there are more faculty now than in 1991. While there may indeed be a better overall faculty-to-student ratio now, that has not ameliorated the crowding in many departments, which is the issue Robinson and Zywicki have addressed. And the ratio is still lower than that of other Ivies.
  • The group also takes issue with the claim that Dartmouth lacks many of the great professors of the past and that there are more adjunct and inexperienced teachers now than before. Dartmouth does have good professors, they maintain, because the College gave awards to a handful of its own professors. They add that Dartmouth actually has as many full-time professors as other institutions, though why Dartmouth should merely be “in line” with “average” colleges is unclear.
  • Dartmouth’s speech codes are irrelevant, they maintain, because the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which issues reports on campus free speech, ranks other Ivy League schools poorly as well. Again, they do not explain why Dartmouth should stoop to the level of Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and most of the other colleges in the country (perhaps BuzzFlood could explain).
  • Finally, ASD questions Zywicki’s attack on the Trustees as being too closely tied with the school, and they ask which of the Trustees he referred to. The answer to that is not difficult: he presumably referred to the six Trustees nominated by the College-affiliated Alumni Council and elected largely without contest, and to the seven put in place by the Board itself. The only real ambiguity is whether he meant his critique to include President Wright and Governor John Lynch.