Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Repogle plan to restore parity

I've written already about potential reasons to support Joe Asch '79's candidacy for Dartmouth's alumni trustee board. Recently, the Powerline guys have weighed in on reasons to vote against his opponent John Repogle.

The most interesting facet of Repogle's candidacy so far: his alternative plan to restore parity to the Board of Trustees by having each graduating class vote one of their own to the Board of Trustees. These young alums would then serve for four years apiece.

Involving more young alumni on the Board isn't necessarily an awful idea. They* have a better intuitive sense of what's going on day to day at the College than older alums do. On the other hand, young alums may have a tendency to overgeneralize from their own experiences. I had mostly positive personal experiences with the Greek system. Yet plenty of other women wrote scathing op-eds about experiences that were quite different from mine. Suppose that someone produced more systematic data showing that their more experiences were more typical than mine. I'd be inclined to try to discount it based on my biases.

Ditto my not getting exercised about long class wait lists, a fate I avoided almost entirely by studying history and art history. Again, the board would really be better off with someone who looked solely at the numbers.

Very young candidates would also likely be left on (national) political issues than would older candidates. A poll of my graduating class showed that 80% of my classmates supported Kerry, and just 5% Bush in 2004. It's true that I don't have comparable data for older alumni, and Pnin does love to point out that contrary to popular Churchillian wisdom, most people's political affiliations don't change much as they age. This is supposed to be especially true of the highly educated, meaning that we Dartmouth people should be unusually inflexible in our views.
Sill, I'd be hard pressed to imagine that older alumni could be significantly more liberal than the 80/5 liberal/conservative breakdown suggests.

Dartmouth's conservatives and libertarians have also been using the logic of collective action to our benefit. That is, most non-conservative alumni didn't (and don't) really care about trustee elections. But we do, and we show up to vote. And there are enough of us that we can win elections. But outgoing liberal seniors still do care deeply about the place that they're about to leave. They're still living and breathing Dartmouth, in a way that people twenty (or...er...five) years out simply aren't.

Frivolous concluding note: Burt's Bees, the firm that Repogle heads, does sell very nice lip gloss. But I have never had any luck with their shampoos, which leave my hair unpleasantly greasy. Those readers rich enough to afford something nicer than whatever is on sale at the drugstore, you're advised to shell out for Kiehl's instead.

*At five years out, I can't say "we" here anymore, can I?

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