Zywicki Seeks Electoral Fairness

Todd Zywicki ’88, who is running as a petition candidate for alumni Trustee, has addressed a letter to the College condemning the unfair advantages given to the four official candidates:

I was surprised and disappointed to see the announcement in the “Speaking of Dartmouth” Electronic Newsletter last week that promoted the candidacies of the four official alumni candidates. Given that candidacy deadline does not close until this Wednesday Feb. 23, I believe that this announcement was premature, inappropriate, and very detrimental to the prospects of a fair election for the Dartmouth Board of Trustess. First, by referring to “the candidates” in the email announcement, this implies that the 4 candidates listed there will be the full slate of candidates. Second, this is very detrimental to my efforts in that any alumni who clicked through that link last week will be much less likely to do so with respect to any future announcements. Third, any future announcement regarding an updated slate of candidates will not only mention my candidacy but will inevitably also again promote the Alumni Council candidates; thus, this puts me at a permanent disadvatage.

To the extent that the College and Alumni Council insist on strict rules on communication with alumni during the election process, it is imperative that these rules be applied in an even-handed manner to all qualified candidates and that there is neither the appearance nor the acutal effect of favoring some candidates over another.

I believe that the announcement at this time was premature and fundamentally unfair to independent candidates and should have not been issued until the deadline for candidates was closed on Feb. 23.

As a result, I request that the College and the Alumni Council take the following steps to attempt to redress this situation:

First, I request the IMMEDIATE REMOVAL of the video by Karen McKeel Calby ’81 endorsing the official Alumni Council nominees. This is a completely inappropriate advantage for the official candidates and there is simply no possible way for a qualified petition candidate to offset this advantage.

Second, I would like to request that the following to try rectify this unfair communication on behalf of the Alumni Council candidates. First, I would like express authorization to maintain my personal website for the duration of the balloting period, to provide alumni with an equal opportunity to discover and learn about my candidacy. Second, after I am qualified as an official candidate this week I would like a special email to be sent to all subscribers of “Speaking of Darmouth” that mentions my addition to the ballot and directs interested alumni to my personal website. I would request that this communication mention specifically that the prior email communication was premature and prior to the candidate deadline, and that the email that mentions my candidacy is being sent to provide all candidates with an equal playing field. It is important that this email mention only myself and any other petition candidates who qualify for the ballot, and does not exacerbate the situation by again directing alumni to the official Alumni website.

I believe this is a serious breach of the promise of a fair and open Trustee Election. If the College is going to impose speech restraints on Trustee candidates, it is imperative that those rules be applied in an even-handed manner and do not favor some candidates at the expense of others.

That Dartmouth applies its “free speech” unfairly and unequally unfortunately does not surprise. If the alumni office seeks to continue giving such advantages to the establishment candidates, though, the College may face a national backlash against its speech restrictions. Zywicki, who appears to have the support of many bloggers, has managed to garner tremendous publicity for his campaign. Even Internet heavyweights like Glenn Reynolds have noted his candidacy, and the mainstream media has caught on: the Weekly Standard ran an article today describing the race.