The College Fights Back

Several alumni have formed a new group, Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth, which takes a strict College line on all major issues affecting the coming alumni Trustee election. According to its proponents, Strong Dartmouth will “offer a counterweight” to the ideas promoted by independent alumni Trustee candidates Todd Zywicki ’88 and Peter Robinson ’79. The site will further counter arguments that “alumni are angry, disenfranchised, etc.”

An alumnus forwarded to The Dartmouth Review various emails from Strong Dartmouth backers. The emails are reproduced as recieved, and have only been modified for readability and to protect the privacy of recipients. Emphasis added.

From: [J. Michael Houlahan ’61]
To: […]
Subject: FW: Dartmouth trustee election
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 11:21:57 -0500

A new group called Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth is starting up to offer a counterweight to the views expressed by the petition candidates for the board of trustees. The website, www.strongdartmouth.org includes the straightforward biographies of all six candidates for the two seats. I recommend paying particular attention to the election issues page http://www.strongdartmouth.org/index.php?r=3#1.
Mike

From: [Mary T. Conway ’82]
To: […]
Subject: Dartmouth trustee election
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2005 16:16:16 -0500

I hope you found the information I sent you helpful and have forwarded it on to other alumni. Momentum is building for this point of view, and a website, www.strongdartmouth.org, is going live on Monday. It’s a non-partisan (read milder) presentation of facts in support of the College designed to share another perspective with alumni about the issues, since the petition candidates are apparently keeping their website live as well.

We really need people willing to step forward and allow their names to be used to endorse this point of view (as part of an organization called Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth.) We hope that you are comfortable allowing your name to be used on this site, and if there are others who you know are comfortable being named, please let us know as well. It’s important that we demonstrate the breadth of support for the College across the alumni body, since one misperception is that most alumni are angry, disenfranchised, etc. Please let me know any questions, and thanks for your help. Mary

The man listed as the owner of StrongDartmouth.org, Geoffrey Berlin ’84, advocates a divide-and-conquer approach to alumni relations, saying that colleges “must segment their alumni bodies” in order to effectively “reach out” to their graduates. Another early contributer to Strong Dartmouth is Joseph Mandel ’60, who in 2002 argued against expanding alumni participation in the Alumni Association by allowing voting by email or paper ballot.

Update: Several readers have noted that campaigning against an alumni Trustee candidate, as Strong Dartmouth is apparently doing, would violate the established regulations for the process. The regulations stipulate that,

Campaigning by the candidate or his/her supporters beyond the two emails is inappropriate . Campaigning is defined as any effort to garner votes and may take the form of written, electronic or telephone communications. It is the responsibility of the candidate to communicate the dignity of the trustee nomination process to his or her supporters and to honor the spirit and the guidelines of the process.

Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth does claim to keep “with the Alumni Council’s policy on campaigning,” though the group explicitly encourages “alumni to vote for those candidates who share our views and not to vote for those candidates whose views are antithetical to our own.”

Representatives of the alumni affairs office were unavailable for comment.