Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Call for Change

This election wasn't really about Stephen Smith or Sandy Alderson. It was about James Wright. If Wright ignores today's call for change, he will dig himself into an inescapable hole. The alumni clearly want him to change course - he needs to. Until he responds, petition candidates are going to continue winning trustee elections.

There was nothing explicitly conservative about Smith's platform - it was just anti-Wright. I've always felt that trying to view Dartmouth politics along liberal/conservative terms is a mistake. Consider the proposed alumni constitution. In the end it got deflated into a liberal/conservative dichotomy, but at the beginning it was publicly opposed by Andrew Seal, the editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Free Press, and Adam Patinkin, president of the New Hampshire College Democrats. It's always easy to view things as being partisan, but that's often a mistake. There's nothing conservative about being pro-Greek or being in favor of COS reform, and there's nothing liberal about supporting an Indian mascot-free campus.

I don't want a liberal president and I don't want a conservative president. All I want is a good president. The college is best run on an even keel, and if Jim Wright ignores this vote of no confidence, he puts at risk the ideological stability of Dartmouth leadership. I like President Wright and I want him to continue leading Dartmouth for many years to come. But he must actively respond to the criticisms brought up in this election, not only for the sake of his adminstration, but because some of the criticisms have actually been on target.

I've always had mixed feelings when it comes to the Wright adminstration, and I think that most Dartmouth students and alumni feel this way. It's tough for me to have unwaivering faith in James Wright when the Student Life Initiative is only in the recent past. Now the adminstration says they support the Greek system, and their "Ask Dartmouth" feature says they were trying to "bolster" the Greek system. What's the truth? Because of the SLI, the Wright adminstration will always have an asterisk by its name. But like many students, I also believe that James Wright is a good man, and a good leader, who honestly cares about Dartmouth and its students without some special ideological agenda. And that's critically important.

This election wasn't another victory in some conservative revolution. I refuse to believe that 55% of alumni want a radical return to the past. Instead, this is another warning to the administration, perhaps the strongest yet. Those voters have lost faith in the direction of the college and want a trustee who will question the adminstration rather than giving them free rein.

Other coverage:
Joe Malchow at Dartblog
Ned Kenney at DartWire
A. S. Erickson at Dartlog
Dartmouth Press Release


Anonymous said...

it's free rein, like a horse.

David Nachman said...

i'm not so great with the horse metaphors

Anonymous said...

Why will Wright "dig himself into an inescapable hole"? Do you think the trustees will remove him, or just that he will be unpopular?

Anonymous said...

"Today's call for change" was a call for the Trustees to choose a new President and replace Wright and his crew of cronies. Has anyone at the senior levels of the Adminstration been here for less than 25-35 years? Folt, Scherr, Harper, Sateia, Nelson, etc. haven't worked outside of Hanover in decades. Even the new Dean of Admissions has worked in the College admissions office for 20 years! What a sorry bunch!

Anonymous said...

I think that all od you are misguided in your criticisms of Wright.

Once again, if you define Wright's presidency by the SLI than you shouldn't have come to Dartmouth.

I agree with Wright on the SLI. Fraternities should have been eliminated. They are a stain and a moral blemish on the name of the college.

I think that individuals (students and alumni alike) who define their experience at Dartmouth College on the basis of fraternities really didn't get a handle on the Dartmouth experience at all.

If you define your experience by frat parties and drinking then you wasted your four years at the college.

If I were president of the college I would do an improved Student Life Iniative and I would mandate the elimination of all Greek Life on campus. We have such a gigantic problem with housing so I would knock down all the fraternity houses and erect state of the art dorms in order to guarantee 100% on campus housing for all students for all four years.

Dartmouth should not be defined by "Animal House" or take pride in the unofficial mascot of Keggy The Beer Keg. That is disgusting. The college experience is supposed to be about the people we meet, the experiences we have inside and out of classes, and what we as individuals learn during our time here.

I know full well that many alumni dislike President Wright for the Student Life Initiative and that the college would lose much money if the Greek Life system were eliminated...but I feel that alumni who dislike President Wright or would not give money to the college if the Greek system were ever eliminated should not have been Dartmouth students in the first place.

The Greek life system is a blemish, a disgusting and immoral stain upon our campus. And the sooner it is eliminated the better it will be for the college as a whole.