Because Being a Petition Candidate Wasn’t Hard Enough Already

Well, here we go again. This is from today’s D:

The Dartmouth Association of Alumni executive committee voted to shorten the campaigning period for Board of Trustees and Association elections on Wednesday, moving forward with the recommendations of an Association committee tasked with exploring election reform. Although the committee was originally formed to pursue campaign finance reform, it found that such reform is politically untenable at this time.

Absolutely amazing. If “campaign finance reform” (read: keeping petition candidates from being able to spend sufficient amounts of money to get their name out there to get elected) was too hot to touch, I’m still not sure why shortening the campaign period by a full third is a good idea.

Association President John Mathias ’69, a member of the election reform study committee, said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “The reduction to four weeks was welcomed.”

Well yes, welcomed by you and those who would rather pesky petition candidates stay out of your way so you can Harvardize this institution.

Thankfully, the article has some balance. Frank Gado ’58 responded:

Frank Gado ’58, a former member of the Association executive committee who supported the organization’s 2007 lawsuit against the College, said that shortening the campaign period will negatively affect petition candidates.

“The group within the alumni that is seeking to challenge the establishment needs to get its message out,” Gado said. “How can it get its message out [in four weeks]?”

Don’t worry about that, Mr. Gado. Candidates will be given more room to write personal statements, up from the current limit of 250! That’s really a good trade off there. The AoA has kneecapped future petition candidates and given them a Band-Aid in the form of a few more lines in a Word file.

What’s the logic behind all of this? Well, as David Spalding ’76 put it:

“Yes, we believe that with a shorter election period and with the College providing more space for people to express their views, there will be less of a need for money in the elections,” Spalding said.

It also makes it that much more difficult for petition candidates–who run entirely on their own dime, by the way, without the College’s inherent advantages such as mailing lists–to get their message out. Combine this with “campaign finance reform” that will inevitably recommend putting a ceiling on the amount of money candidates can spend and we’re looking at completely disenfranchised alumni.

Are you ready for the kicker? Get this:

The fourth guiding principle from the report, which stated that “petition candidates should never be disadvantaged by any restrictive election guidelines or rules promulgated by the [Association executive committee],” was changed to say that “no candidate should be ever be disadvantaged” by election guidelines, Mathias said.

The other guiding principles — that alumni should be given sufficient information about all candidates, that candidates should be allowed to share their opinions “without editorial review” and that elections should not be affected by the amount of money spent candidates — were accepted without change by the committee.

Yet, this is exactly what has just been done. Don’t be surprised if that last “guiding principle” is the next one to be implemented in the interest “fairness” or some such nonsense.