The elections for Alumni Trustee are a farce. Consider the ballot.

First, there is no way for an outsider — say Wick Sloane ’76 — to get on the ballot. If the Alumni Office does not like you, then you will never be nominated. (Details on the process here.) Much better would be a system, like Dartmouth’s old process, that allowed for non-mainstream voices to (try to) gather enough signatures to get on the ballot. The alumni of Williams — not the insiders at the Society of Alumni — should decide who serves as Alumni Trustee.

Second, the College forbids candidates from discussing anything substantive in their statements. Are you interested in changes in financial aid policy at Williams? Do you want to know what these candidates think? Tough! They aren’t going to tell you because the College won’t let them. Read their pap-filled statements. It isn’t that these thoughtful alumni don’t have substantive views on the future of Williams. It is that the College itself tells them not to discuss those views in these statements. This is viewed as “campaigning” and we are too classy to allow that!

Third, Williams successfully discourages candidates from answering questions. A decade ago, I e-mailed each of the three trustee candidates this question:


My name is David Dudley Field, Williams class of 1825, and I would like to make an informed vote among the three of you in casting my ballot for alumni trustee. Would you mind answering a single question?

What are your thoughts on President Bill Wagner’s recent changes in financial aid policy?

I realize that the three of you are very busy people, but it is very hard for me to choose among you unless I have at least an inkling of how you feel about this critical issues.

Further comments:

1) I have cc’d Wick Sloane ’76 on this e-mail because he convinced me to contact you. I am sure that he would also like to know how you feel about financial aid.

2) I have cc’d Secretary of Alumni Brooks Foehl as well. I understand that the College does not want you to “campaign” for this election. But I hope/assume that Brooks would agree that just answering my question, at least in private, is not campaigning.

3) I have cc’d Ronit Bhattacharyya ’07, one of the leading lights behind EphBlog. With your permission (and only with your permission), I am sure that Ronit would like to post your answers at EphBlog so that other alumni could cast more informed ballots. But, if you did not want to do that, I still hope that you could answer the question to me directly.

Thanks for your time and your past service to Williams.

Two of the three candidates were polite enough to respond. Both refused to answer the question. Pathetic! Or, rather, just what the Alumni Office would want them to do.

The Alumni Office does not want Williams alumni to make an informed choice in trustee elections. Your local high school has sophomore class elections with more substance.

Who did you vote for and why?

Sidenote: Do any techies have opinions about voting security? I got this “receipt” after I voted:

Vote receipt

You voted as sign-in name: SHxHqhBu
Vote submitted from IP address: XX.XXX.XXX.XXX

Alumni Trustee Ballot 2020 (UG ALUMNI)

Alumni Trustee Slate (ID# 156271)
Vote receipt code 8FcTcuvXfn
This vote was recorded: Monday 09 March 2020 17:40 EDT

ID# is the permanent identification number of the selected choices in the database.

close window

(I X’d out my IP address.) Good stuff? Hackable? I am not technically competent enough to comment.

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