The changes that would have made it a lot harder for non-insider candidates to be elected trustee at Dartmouth were rejected. See previous EphBlog coverage here and here.

At Williams, there is no way for anyone to even get on the ballot, much less get elected, without insider approval. Even if 80% of alumni wanted person X on the board of trustees, it won’t happen without official support from the Society of Alumni. The only way to get elected is to be on the ballot, and the only way to get on the ballot is to be picked by the Nominating Committee. And the members of the Nominating Committee are picked, I think, by officials at the Society of Alumni who work for the College (or serve ex officio in other roles).

I think that this is a problem, that the SoA is not very open to outside comment (I can’t even get them to release the names of the people on the Nominating Committee), that one of the reasons that participation in elections is so low is that everyone realizes that the fix is in.

As always, I like the people at SoA. Many are friends of mine from back in the day. I met Brooks Foehl ’88 at Freshmen Council, played on the squash team with Lew Fisher ’89, and hung out with Jen Krouse ’89. They are all smart and dedicated, exactly the sort of Ephs who we all want at the SoA. But, at the same time, they are not the folks in charge. Unless and until President Schapiro and VP for Alumni Relations Stephen Birrell ’64 decide they want change, there will be no change.

My complaints are about the process. If you want more people to participate, then you need to give them a reason to do so. For the most part, the SoA does not.

Will this change anytime soon? I doubt it. But some day I will tilt at this particular windmill. I will start raising issues at the actual alumni meeting. All that I’ll need to bring an issue to the floor will be one or two other people to second it. I won’t demand change immediately. But I will insist that committees be formed to study these matters, that those committees be allowed to report their results, that alumni be allowed to vote on proposed changes. It will be a slow process. Yet, with luck, change will come one day.

[This is the kind of stuff that will prevent you from ever getting on the Executive Committee of SoA. — ed. I know, I know. A smart organization would want someone as engaged as me on the inside of the tent pissing out; a cautious organization wants people like me to stay as far away as possible.]

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