Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dartmouth Alumni Battles Become a Spectator Sport

Dartmouth Alumni Battles Become a Spectator Sport - New York Times: "The fracas has drawn the attention of conservative bloggers and publications all over the country. It began when candidates for the governing board of trustees endorsed by the Alumni Association were unexpectedly defeated two years in a row by outsiders who got on the ballot by petition. The outsiders accused the college administration of sacrificing free speech to political correctness and of abandoning Dartmouth's historical focus on undergraduates to turn it into a "junior varsity Harvard."

Conservative publications and blogs that accuse academia of a liberal bias have lionized the three insurgents at Dartmouth and are tearing into the proposed constitution. The blog of one student, Joseph Malchow, describes the process of drafting the constitution in a "Timeline of Dirty Tricks."

Conservative alumni at Colgate University and Hamilton College in upstate New York have also tried to reach the board as petition candidates, so far unsuccessfully.

At Hamilton, the dissent flared after a campus club issued a speaking invitation to Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor who has called victims of the Sept. 11 attacks "little Eichmanns," and after the college invited Susan Rosenberg to teach a seminar on memoir writing. As a leftist in the early 1980's, Ms. Rosenberg was linked to the armed robbery of a bank in which two police officers and a security guard were killed.

At Colgate, the opposition reached critical mass over the college's efforts to curb Greek life by taking over ownership of fraternity houses. Yale saw a spirited but futile petition challenge from the left in 2002 by a labor-backed minister who was a graduate of the divinity school.

Editors of the on-campus Dartmouth Review and The Dartmouth Free Press, conservative and liberal publications that seldom agree, called the new constitution "a slap in the face to open democracy" that "makes a mockery of the spirit of dissent and free speech."

"This is as much a reform as when Joseph Stalin decided to hold elections in Eastern Europe," he said. "Voting? Yes. Democracy? Not at all.""

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