ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA Speaks Out on Hamilton College Election

July 20, 2005 by ACTA

The Chronicle of Higher Education is covering the Hamilton College trustee election fiasco reported here last week. Hamilton's election rules--which limit petition candidates to 100-word statements on the paper ballot, which mandate that candidates may not use their one hundred words to "include any contact information or references to specific hard copy or online resource material," which deny candidates the use of Hamilton College of Alumni Association listervs, and which urge candidates not to use mass emails for campaign purposes--are peculiarly hostile to the free exchange of ideas that should characterize elections; Hamilton has set up an alumni message board that is ostensibly intended to serve as a forum for discussion during the election, but the board is an awkward medium and has been largely inactive. Some are speculating that Hamilton's electoral restrictions have much to do with the college's desire to avoid criticism during a year that featured a number of scandals, including the now-infamous decision to invite--and then disinvite--Ward Churchill to speak.

ACTA plays a prominent role in the Chronicle piece:

Those rules are unfair to the petition candidates, which the college is treating as "outside agitators," said Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Ms. Neal said the officially nominated candidates had received a boost from a recent letter to alumni, signed by the chairman of Hamilton's board, that encouraged alumni to vote for the three candidates named by the Alumni Council. ...

"They're not able to express their views fully," Ms. Neal said of the petition candidates. Ms. Neal, whose arguments echoed those raised in a recent statement from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, compared the election restrictions to those placed on a hotly contested trustee election in May at Dartmouth College, in which two petition candidates were elected to the board.

Hamilton College administrators may have been hoping to avert further bad press by restricting the speech of petition candidates whose platforms center on a desire to clean up the college's governance procedures. But in the proceess, they are making a new national scandal entirely on their own.

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