Thursday, May 24, 2007

Let Students Vote

In today's The Dartmouth, Luis-Alejandro Dinnella-Borrego ‘07 calls on the Board of Trustees to expand voting priviledges to current students during trustee elections. I absolutely agree. Just like alumni, we have a vested interest in the outcome of trustee elections, only its impact on us is much more powerful and immediate. Allowing students to vote would probably have little effect on the final count, but would empower students to play a role in deciding the course of the college. As pre-adults, we were disenfrancised for so long - why must we be so again?


Anonymous said...

Any student who could name the Provost, the Dean of Faculty and the Dean of the College, and who knows what they actually do, without being prepped, should be allowed to vote. In my experience, there are about five kids who qualify.
Students have no perspective in comparing the current administration with past administrations or with the leadership of other institutions (educational or not). Once they graduate and begin to gain experience, they start to be able to vote in an informed way.

Anonymous said...

You are required to be in school while you are at Dartmouth, obligated financially and given incentive to take advantage of what the school has to offer. Once you have taken advantage it remains to be seen how involved you will be - how much you will give back. Given that voter turnout in this last election was 28%, I would argue that there is a definite self-selection process. Those who choose to vote do because they have an interest, vested or otherwise, in seeing the college succeed. If we could forecast what percentage of the undegraduate body will stay involved in the future, we could then determine who in the undergraduate population might cast an informed vote.

In short: there is no point in fielding opinions on the future of the college from those who will not be involved in the future.

Additionally, due to the direct and constant exposure of students, their inclusion in the fray would only turn up the volume on the mudslinging, campaigning, and therefore campaign finance. With thousands of votes in the balance who are easily swayed by flashy websites and free stuff, think about how much of a circus the trustee race would become.

The undergraduate population is by no means insignificant in terms of the voter base, and their involvement would create large and volatile shifts, largely based on popularity. Due to this trend, we would see large and veiled advertising campaigns directed at such a demographic, further muddying already clouded waters

For the same reason that citizenship is required to vote in U.S. elections, so must a degree be required to vote in Dartmouth elections. If you cannot wait for the requisite year or two between when one becomes aware of trustee poltics, then you probably should be able to vote. But unfortunately, with each voter of this caliber comes 50 other uninformed momentum voters. There is something to be said for taking drivers education before you are given a car and the ability to err; the age of licensure has to be set somewhere.

*On a side note, and not addressed to you Nachman, for all those who might think that allowing a student vote would deccrease the chances of someone like Stephen Smith winning, think again.

Anonymous said...

Today's (Friday) editorial in the D well shows why students should not vote for trustees. Wright has filled his administration with cronies and he gives them little or no guidance. His work with veterans is admirable, but that is but a tiny sideline to his real responsibilities.

Ladb2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I find the anti-democratic impulse of these comments a little disturbing.

1) You cannot compare American citizenship with being a Dartmouth alumnus.

According to the Constitution, any native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States 18 years old or older may vote in elections.

If you want to make the comparison, make it between citizenship and matriculation, not between citizenship and graduation.

Citizens of the United States are allowed to vote because issues related to voting are important and affect their daily lives.

Likewise, matriculated students (both undergraduate and graduate) should be allowed to vote for a body that wields immense amount of power over their lives as students.

Furthermore, I actually am of the optimistic opinion that most students would be well-informed voters. To assert that alumni are more well-informed about the adminsitration than we are is preposterous.

If students do not know or concern themselves with the administration or the trustees it isn't because they are ignorant, it is because they have no say in the matter and thus don't care as much as those who have a say in the matter (alumni).

If you are a matriculated student you should be allowed to vote in trustee elections.

I am not saying that students should be entitled to anything else. But voting for trustees is a power that students should have.

Anonymous said...

"Alumni can’t speak for students in trustee elections"
By Luis-Alejandro Dinnella-Borrego ‘07
The Dartmouth
Thursday, May 24, 2007

To the Editor:

I feel the need to address Steve Horvath ‘66’s letter to the editor (“The alumni have spoken,” May 21). He states that “the bottom line is that the system worked.” The question I have is, who did it work for? It certainly did not work for the students. I think one of the problems our College faces is the fact that the people who are most affected by trustee elections do not have a say in the election process. Students (undergraduates and graduates) are ineligible to vote in trustee elections. Considering the sweeping powers that the Board of Trustees wields over the affairs of the College, I find this fact to be very disturbing.

According to the website for the Board of

Trustees, the board “is granted final authority under the original Charter of Dartmouth College to establish such …ordinances, order and laws as may tend to the good and wholesome government of the said College….” Other statutory functions of the board include the appointment of faculty and principal administrative officers, the purchase and disposition of real property, the establishment of salary scales and the awarding of degrees. In short, the Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for the financial, administrative and academic affairs of the College.” With such broad and expansive powers, all of which affect the lives of students attending the College, I find it appalling that those people whose lives are affected the most are virtually excluded from voting for members of that body.

While it is true that the alumni have spoken, it is evident that the students have not. The Board of Trustees is essentially the governing body that determines the future direction of the college and that also impacts the amount of tuition we pay. I believe that it is a disservice to the College that we as students are denied the right to choose who serves on the Board of Trustees when we are the ones who are most impacted by the board. How can someone honestly say that the “system worked” when students were excluded from voting for members within that system? So long as Dartmouth continues to deny students the right to participate in elections for the Board of Trustees, these elections cannot be considered fair. I believe that the Board of Trustees should pass appropriate measures to enable all students to vote in trustee elections; this voting right for students is an essential ingredient to enable Dartmouth students to be fully integrated into the Dartmouth community.