A group of Yale University students and alumni called on the university’s board of directors, Yale Corporation, to resume the petition process, through which aspiring trustees can become candidates for public seats on the board.
According to the senior trustee Catharine Bond Hill’s written explanation of the decision, the board announced at the end of May that it had cancelled the long-standing petition after determining that it was “no longer in the best interests of the university” program.
She said that in recent years, petition candidates have often campaigned on a single policy issue and received financial and other support from outside groups.
Bondhill said: “We are really worried that other alumni candidates-they may become very good board members-do not want to do this in order to get votes and be elected to the board of directors.”.
Some students and alumni opposed the decision to end the petition process. They worry about being deprived of their citizenship and giving up influence on the decision-making bodies of the Ivy League schools. Change.org hosted two petitions asking the board to resume the process.As of Tuesday afternoon, 654 people have signed One Of petitions, signed by more than 1,345 people other.
“The Yale I attended believed in freedom of speech, transparency and democracy,” Yale alumni Frank Paprota wrote next to his signature on Change.org. “The cancellation of the petition process runs counter to all these ideals.”
Gail Lavielle, who graduated from Yale University in 1981, planned to apply to be a candidate for the board of directors next year. She said that hundreds of alumni contacted her after the board announced the cancellation of the process.
“They want to do something about it,” Lavelle said. “The alumni are ready for war.”
The Yale University Board of Trustees includes the president and 16 trustees, all of whom are graduates of Yale University. Ten trustees are appointed by the existing board of directors. The appointed trustee can serve up to two six years and is called the “successor trustee”. The remaining six directors are elected by alumni and are called “alumni fellows.” Each of them serves a six-year term.
Candidates for seats in the alumni association are usually selected by the nomination committee of the alumni association, which consists of members of the Yale Alumni Association Board of Directors, current members of the Yale University Board of Directors, several university officials and other alumni volunteers. Yale alumni can submit their names to the nomination committee for consideration, and the committee proposes two to three candidates for seats in the open alumni association. All Yale alumni who have held a degree for at least five years, Yale graduate school and professional school alumni, and those with a Yale honorary degree can vote in the alumni election.
Before the board of directors decides to end this process in May, alumni can also use petitions to compete for a place in the alumni election vote. Any candidate who collects at least 4,500 signatures between May and October in a given year will get a place in the next election, which is usually held in May.
Rachel Pontious, a sophomore and environmental engineering major at Yale University, said the petition process was very difficult. Pontius is active in the Yale Advance Organization, which advocates for Yale’s inclusive and transparent governance. During the last alumni election, the organization gathered around alumni Maggie Thomas.
“Eligibility through the petition process is already a huge obstacle: we had to collect more than 4,000 alumni signatures in just a few months,” Pontius said in an email. “It’s even harder because, according to a stupid rule, alumni who graduated less than five years ago are not allowed to sign contracts. So the process was undemocratic at first, and this recent move made it completely opaque.”
Only one trustee won a board seat after using the petition process-in 1965, the former Yale University trustee William Horowitz He was elected as a member of the board of directors after petitioning. Although few petitioners have collected enough signatures to appear on ballots, this option has become more and more popular in recent years. Students and alumni see this process as a way to promote their interest and gain representation on the board.
Laviere said that in the last election in May, the two petitioning candidates collected enough signatures to be included in the ballot. One of the candidates dropped out due to job changes, and the Alumni Association Nomination Committee put forward a candidate for consideration. Therefore, alumni can choose between two candidates to serve as a seat on the public alumni association board-petition candidate Victor Ashe (former ambassador to Poland and Knoxville, Tennessee) Mayor) and David Thomas, Dean of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Lavielle said that she and other alumni were worried that the nomination committee had only proposed one candidate.
“Usually they recommend several candidates. There are no rules, but usually more than one,” Lavielle said. “This is the first time in a long time [trustees have] In the face of petitioning candidates who may actually win, perhaps it is not attractive to them. “
Bondhill said that members of the nomination committee did not want to distribute votes among several qualified candidates.
“If you propose three candidates, you tend to split the vote,” she said. “If you have two, you let the alumni make a clear choice between these two candidates.”
David Thomas won the election, And the board soon announced that it had cancelled the petition process. LaVille, who had been planning to collect signatures for the next election, could no longer run for the vacant board seat.
Bondhill said the board has been considering canceling the petition process for years.
“Over time, it looks like the petition candidates are doing something we think will disrupt the alumni voting process,” she said. “They have campaigned for a long time; they are dealing with specific issues, not their experience and expertise. They have the support of external groups-in some cases, employees and money.”
The trustee has considered trying to modify the process to solve these problems, but did not see an effective method.
Rick Legon, former chairman of the Association of Management Committees, said that the board’s decision to cancel the petition process will help ensure that trustees become good trustees.
“I think what Yale chose to do here is very smart,” Lygon said. “Different points of view are welcome, but in the final analysis, there should be a feeling that the trustee is here to improve all aspects, all issues, all concerns. Once the board of directors makes a decision—whether you agree with popular views—you As a trustee, you should support this view.”
Yale University sophomore Jordi Bertrán Ramírez (Jordi Bertrán Ramírez) also participated in the work of Yale Forward, he said that if the trustee can better represent the views of alumni, then losing the petition option will not so serious.
He wrote in an email: “If in theory, the alumni trustee represents the enthusiasm, attention and diversity of Yale alumni, then this severely undemocratic process can be slightly corrected.” “But with With the cancellation of the petition process, in terms of the urgent issues facing the Yale community, there is no way for grassroots organizations or community building to go.”
David Maxwell, Honorary Chancellor of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and AGB Senior Fellow, said that board members can ensure that alumni, students, employees, and other institutional stakeholders listen to their concerns and respond to them. Consider coming to feel their representatives.
“They should listen to the voices of the community in an important way, let people know that their voices have been heard, what they say has been taken seriously, and the board of directors has seriously considered them,” he said. “I know this is not a good answer for anyone who wants to ensure that the board executes X, Y, or Z. But it is the responsibility of a good board.”