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Sunday, March 06, 2005
Why Robinson and Zywicki?

Lots of alumni bloggers have been weighing in on the forthcoming alumni elections. John Kalb believes that "It's not about frats, or faculty, or grad students, or fundraising, or whatever else, but rather it's about whether people think the College is heading in the right direction." Tim Waligore responds by wondering whether this is a sufficient reason to vote for the petition candidates, Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88. (Tim's post links to even more blogospheric opinions, so head over there for more comprehensive coverage.)

I said earlier why I support Zywicki's candidacy. The big thing for me is that he's an academic, whereas none of the current trustees and the other election candidates are (even though a number of them have held academic positions in the past). As for Robinson, I've been very impressed with his work as moderator of Uncommon Knowledge, and I think he'll bring similar good sense and passion to his trusteeship. Zywicki and Robinson will add to the dialogue about Dartmouth's future points of views that are contrary to the mainstream (libertarianism and conservatism respectively). This ideological diversity is healthy even if you don't agree with their views. Electing them in no way guarantees that liberal-progressive viewpoints will fail or that conservative-libertarian viewspoints will dominate. It should ensure that disgruntled alumni (I'm not one of them, by the way) have trustees who'll listen to their criticisms.

Some of the criticisms of Zywicki and Robinson are exceedingly silly. The DAPAAA email I posted below, for instance, claims that both petition candidates' "messages about wanting to make Dartmouth better are really 'code' for going backwards." In another example of postmodern logic at its worst, The Little Green Blog, without citing any evidence except an op-ed in The D, accuses them of "covering up their ambitions to make Dartmouth a conservative and backwards institution." Right. It's pretty clear that Zywicki and Robinson, like those nasty, horrible Reviewers and their ilk, want nothing less than a return to the good old days of single-sex education. The Indian must come back too. As for Robinson's belief that undergraduates should "learn about the plight of American Indians by studying the displacement of the Cherokee Nation and the 'Trail of Tears'," that's just a ruse, a coverup. So too is Zywicki's radically anti-progressive notion that the College should - quelle horreur! -- seek to improve its governance through "greater openness and transparency."

The D's latest Verbum Ultimatum is similarly inadequate. The D is endorsing Richard Lewis '84 and Gregg Engles '79 because they recognize Dartmouth's "proud tradition of undergraduate focus and small-college feel" and because both seem to have "progressive ideals." Lewis, for example, is cited for wanting to trim the costs of a Dartmouth education. So how does that distinguish them from Robinson, who's called for Dartmouth to "rededicate itself to its central mission, providing the best undergraduate education in America," and from Zywicki, who has criticized the College's "confused financial priorities"?