Haldeman Takes the Mike and Doesn’t Let Go

The trustee Q&A held late yesterday afternoon was interesting in that students were able to see and interact with the trustees, but they received few straight answers to their questions. This was probably inevitable and in many cases necessary What was disturbing was how few questions were asked. As soon as the initial student introduction was over Haldeman jumped to the podium, clearly intent on sidetracking the event as much as was possible—and he was largely successful as only approximately ten questions were answered in 90 minutes. The one thing that was most (surely unintentionally) noticeable about Haldeman was his autocratic style of interaction.

Once at the podium he underhandedly criticized the events organizers, rambled on about how busy the trustees were, and tried to coopt the process of asking questions. Instead of having students line up in an orderly fashion behind the microphones in the aisles of the auditorium, Haldeman wanted to have students simply raise their hands, and someone (presumably him) would pick who was worthy of asking questions and who wasn’t. Fortunately this effort was squashed by one of the event’s organizers, Joe Malchow—who stood up and contradicted Haldeman, telling students to go ahead and line up behind the microphones.

Failing in his endeavor to cherry-pick the questions, Haldeman visibly decided that a filibuster would be his best tactic. He asked all of the 13 trustees in attendance to introduce themselves before any questions were asked. The net result of all of Haldeman’s stalling was that we were 25 minutes into the Q&A and exactly zero questions had been asked. This was especially vexing as he put a time limit on the event saying they had to be somewhere at 6:15—though, curiously, at the end of the program he had changed that time to 6:00.

Haldeman funneled all of the questions to the “appropriate” people on the Board, which basically ended up meaning each question was answered by anywhere from 2-6 people, severely limiting the number of questions asked. The Board members’ stock answer to most questions was that the issues were “complex” and “complicated.” The issues no doubt are, but pointing out the obvious is helpful only to a point.

Haldeman’s most noticable gaffe was thankfully pointed out by one of the questioner’s. On the school’s bureaucracy he had directed everyone to a recent Forbes article which showed clearly that every school’s bureaucracy was growing. Is it really any defense that Dartmouth is performing just as poorly as other schools?

UPDATE: Also, here is the College’s press release concerning the trustees’ weekend.