Assembly candidates debate student life issues, hopes for next president

The five Student Assembly presidential candidates participated in the last of four debates on Friday, discussing their hopes for the next College president and arguing over the best way to incentivize attendance at General Assembly meetings. The debate focused on the candidates’ concrete, specific plans to address campus issues ranging from the Assembly’s provision of services to communication with the administration.

Presidential candidates Max Hunter ’13, Suril Kantaria ’13, Erin Klein ’13, J.T. Tanenbaum ’13 and Rachel Wang ’13 took part in the debate.

Candidates were given one minute to respond to questions posed by the moderator, The Dartmouth Executive Editor Jay Webster ’13, as well as 30 seconds for an optional rebuttal. Three audience questions were debated after the planned questions had been asked.

Candidates discussed the importance of education and the Assembly’s relationship with the student body and administration in combating the issues of hazing, sexual assault and binge drinking.

Kantaria emphasized that the Assembly should be a facilitator for the organizations that already exist to combat such issues instead of seeking to “reinvent the wheel” itself. Committee members should be brought to Assembly meetings to foster communication while they’re “sitting at the same table,” he said.

Klein said that the College has had a problem of simply adding “another level of bureaucracy” whenever it confronts campus life issues. Instead, the Assembly needs to engage in expanded education efforts, she said.

“The most important thing that [the Assembly] can do for these three issues is educate and publicize the various accomplishments of groups on campus,” she said.

Tanenbaum agreed that education was paramount but emphasized that the education should be directed toward “the proper community.”

Wang also said that more training and education are necessary, citing the fact that hazing does not have a clear definition. She also said the “underlying issues” that drive students to drink should be addressed with improved counseling services.

Hunter said that “real changes” are not happening at the College despite the presence of many committees and that many current policies need to be abolished or revised. Trial and error of ineffective policies is unhelpful, Hunter said.

“We need to recognize horrible ideas on paper,” he said.

Two opposing ideas were proposed by Tanenbaum and Kantaria in response to a question about how to incentivize student body participation in the Assembly.

Tanenbaum said that Assembly members should go to student groups and ask them what the Assembly can to help them, while Kantaria said that student groups on campus should send representatives to Assembly meetings.

Tanenbaum said that Kantaria’s idea was similar to one proposed by former Assembly president Eric Tanner ’11, who sought to bring representatives to Assembly meetings and failed. Kantaria said that, having spoken to Tanner, the two ideas were dissimilar and Tanner had never attempted to invoke the system of “liaisons” from groups across campus.

Hunter said that students would have no interest in the Assembly unless it offered them something unique, namely the ability to represent their needs to the administration.

“Unless we can offer student groups something that they can’t do themselves, they won’t come,” he said. “We can make administrators sweat.”

The candidates agreed that if College President Jim Yong Kim were to leave the College, the new president must possess an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Dartmouth as well as experience in the fields of education and administration. The 2009 student body president was the only student representative on the presidential search committee that selected Kim.

Wang said that a “history of working with students” is important because there’s something “uniquely exciting” about the workings of a college campus. A combination of the values of tradition and innovation is also important in a College president, she said.

Klein said that the new President has to care about community and diversity above all else.

The debate, sponsored by The Dartmouth, was held in Paganucci Lounge in the Class of 1953 Commons at 4 p.m. on Friday. Voting will occur on Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sankar: Advocating for Change

Over the course of these past four days, the Student Assembly presidential and vice-presidential candidates have promised to galvanize student interest and respond to their constituencies with the administration’s feedback. We should praise these candidates for examining the issues they have researched and in which they have immersed themselves, as well as for engineering solutions to improve our campus life. I have been deeply impressed by their passion, a passion that at least two of them will carry into next year’s Assembly.

I entered my job as student body vice president this fall with a similar mindset. I had ambitions to shake up campus with radical ideas, reshape the social topography and move the College culture forward to catch up with the student body’s mentality. What Student Body President Max Yoeli and I could not have imagined, however, were the scale and complexity of the issues to which we would then have to respond. The arrival of a new dean of the College and new Office of Pluralism and Leadership director, the transition to a new dining system, the establishment of strategic planning initiatives and the resignation of our Pan-Asian advisor were challenging milestones in our administration. It would be an understatement to say that this year has not been what I had imagined. But if I have learned anything over the course of the past eight months, it is that there is only more thunderous change to come before the storm at hand abates. With the announcement that our College president will most likely move on to bigger things soon, the course of the College seems unclear.

Come graduation, I will exit this home I have known for four years. I have two requests for the student body before I depart. First: Vote this Monday. Regardless of your thoughts as to the efficacy of Student Assembly as an organization or your frustration toward “campus leaders” for their inability to realistically effect change, I promise you that the next student body president and vice president will be considered by the College administration to be your voice. These students most frequently interact with our college’s staff and faculty and are considered a key resource to relaying student opinion. I therefore urge you to know where the candidates stand on student concerns and initiatives so that you can make an informed choice for which candidate will best represent you next year.

Also, know that you can effect positive change on campus without a title or positional leadership. Think carefully on what you want your Dartmouth experience to be, and protest any hurdle that prevents that. As all of the candidates have attested, if you approach them, they have no choice but to listen to you. So talk to them. Send a caustic email to the Student Assembly account. Come to General Assembly meetings (yes, anyone can attend) and voice a complaint. Fill out every student life or satisfaction survey that comes your way with thoughtful candor. And if that’s not enough, be proactive. Address those accountable to you: Go to Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s office hours, email associate Dean of the College for Campus Life April Thompson and give the administration the window of opportunity to meet you halfway and see what they say.

But if all else fails, and we have utilized all recourses to work in collaboration, if we have exhausted every single channel of negotiation, then we must stand united to demand more from our school.

Our mandate for change must stem, not from individual complaint, but from taking a stand as a Dartmouth community. There will only be greater need for student input and opinion in the upcoming months, and unless the student body speaks with one voice, the administration will be reticent to take our feedback seriously.

During the Inter-Community Council debate, every presidential candidate discussed the ways in which we consider ourselves to be a community. For me, community is what draws us together. The aggregation of 4,000 brilliant, talented, driven persons is far greater than the sum of our individual parts. Considering ourselves a tight-knit, impressive collective, rather than obsessing over our self-imposed and inherited differences only strengthens us. Your voice next year will have far more reach if it is vested in a unified student body. Take your private, brilliant musings and get excited. Work together. And I promise that unified, your demand for change will have to be met seriously.

**Amrita Sankar ’12 is the student body vice president.*

Verbum Ultimum: Open the Door and Listen

In recent months, Dartmouth students and alumni have discussed ad nauseam the role of the College’s administration in addressing issues facing student life. Many members of the community have directed their criticism toward College President Jim Yong Kim and his handling of the recent hazing scandal and his nomination to the World Bank presidency. Although we agree that Kim’s leadership regarding issues of campus life has been unsatisfactory at times, other members of the administration have also mishandled student concerns. In particular, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, who is specifically tasked with serving as the go-to administrator for undergraduate students, has done an inadequate job of addressing campus issues thus far.

We are disappointed that Johnson has not taken the lead in addressing many of the numerous pressing concerns of Dartmouth students, such as hazing, student health, LGBT life and sexual assault. Amidst recent negative media attention, Student Body President Max Yoeli ’12 criticized Johnson for a lack of vision and direct action, which has left students “without outlets or direction” (“Administrators remain disconnected, some say,” April 12).

Johnson has served as dean of the College for nine months, yet we have not seen her take significant action on anything beyond sending brief campus-wide emails expressing concern and hosting forums that produce few tangible results. We ask that these messages actually produce meaningful change. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Stephen Mandel ’78 has sent three campus-wide emails since March 23, and while we appreciate his open communication with the student body, we wonder why administrators on campus supposedly involved in student life issues are not the ones informing students of important events affecting the College community.

We are also concerned that Johnson has not been visible or accessible to students. This past week, students criticized Johnson for leaving early from “Talk It Out,” an event dedicated to discussing the challenges facing LGBT students (“Students shed light on homophobia,” April 9). Johnson responded with a letter to the editor published in The Dartmouth, stating that she is eager to speak with students about their concerns and that her door is always open (“Vox Clamantis,” April 10). Despite this assurance, we have not found this to be the case.

Students, particularly campus leaders, have been unable to meet with Johnson after many attempts, and groups such as Student Assembly and Palaeopitus Senior Society have expressed frustration with attempting to work with her. The Dartmouth Editorial Board has tried repeatedly over the past three months to schedule meetings and interviews with Johnson to discuss campus issues and has been unsuccessful. It is clear that students are making a concerted effort to have their voices heard by the administration. As dean of the College, Johnson has not done her job of listening to them.

If Johnson wishes to have a successful tenure as dean of the College, it is essential that she become more visible and available to students and strive for more engagement with the campus on an individual level. Only by stepping through her open door and away from her computer can she begin to make a concerted effort to get to know students and take action on their behalf.

Daily Debriefing

A series of bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh has canceled several classes, forced late-night dormitory evacuations and resulted in many students moving offcampus, The New York Times reported. Although there have been no explosions so far and no explosives have been found, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton said in a statement that the threats are being “vigorously, aggressively and thoroughly investigated” by campus police and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The university responded to each bomb threat by evacuating students and calling in a bomb squad to sweep the buildings, The Times reported. Administrators of the university have asked professors to relax attendance policies and schoolwork requirements, especially since many students have chosen to leave campus due to safety and other concerns, according to The Times.

An investigative report, commissioned by University of California President Mark Yudof and released on Wednesday, condemned the forceful police actions used against student protestors at the University of California, Davis in November, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. A UC Davis campus police officer used pepper spray against student members of the Occupy movement, resulting in a video that spread rapidly across the Internet. The report found the incident to be the result of “failures of leadership and communication at nearly every level,” according to The Chronicle. The release of the report was delayed several weeks due to a lawsuit filed by the campus police officers’ union because the report contained “confidential personnel records,” according to The Chronicle. Yudof swore to uphold students’ rights to free speech, saying that he expects “campus authorities to honor that right,” The Chronicle reported.

The Connecticut state legislature voted to repeal the death penalty in Connecticut on Wednesday, despite the lobbying efforts of William Petit, Jr. ’78, whose daughter Hayley Petit was killed in a home invasion along with her mother and sister the summer before she would have become a member of Dartmouth’s Class of 2011, the Associated Press reported. The repeal comes after Petit’s successful efforts last year to delay the Connecticut State Senate’s consideration of the death penalty while one of the killers was still on trial. Gov. Dannel Malloy, D-Conn., has already stated his intention to sign the bill “as soon as it reaches his desk,” making Connecticut the 17th state to repeal the death penalty, according to the AP. The act will not apply to the 11 people already on death row, the AP reported.

Bill would slash funds from abortion providers

The New Hampshire State Senate is currently considering House Bill 228, which would ban taxpayer funding for medical institutions performing elective abortions. If the bill passes the Senate, New Hampshire will join states including Texas, Indiana, Tennessee and Kansas that have all recently restricted abortions by targeting Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers like Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Frank McDougall, vice president for government relations at DHMC, said he is confident that the broad language contained in the bill will not survive the Senate. Even if the bill were to pass the Senate, Gov. John Lynch, D-N.H., would likely veto the bill, McDougall said.

“The bill has no future in its present form,” he said. “The bill is an all-too-prevalent example of ideologically based legislation that was written and passed in a hurry without due diligence in regard for unintended consequences.”

DHMC and nine other hospitals are suing the Department of Health and Human Services for violating Medicaid’s budget-cutting rules and for limiting health care access to Medicaid patients, McDougall said.

“The election in 2010 brought 160 new members to the House, many of whom ran on a very conservative Tea Party platform, which involved this type of legislation and certainly their right to do so,” McDougall said. “We respect the members of the House, we just strongly disagree with them.”

Lynch’s Press Secretary Colin Manning said that the governor supports leaving health care decisions to be made between a woman and her doctor. Manning said that federal and state laws already exist to prevent public funds from being used for abortions, but the new bill would restrict access to other health services, as well.

“Tens of thousands of New Hampshire women could lose access to important health care such as family planning, cancer screening, health education,” he said. “Obviously this bill raises some very serious concerns.”

Manning did not say, however, that Lynch would veto the bill.

Rep. John Cebrowski, R-Hillsborough, who co-sponsored the bill with six other House members, said he expects the Senate to pass the bill after initially “tweaking it a bit.” Despite opponents’ concerns that the bill will jeopardize the accessibility of community health centers to uninsured citizens, Cebrowski said the bill will have no negative impact on women’s health.

“That is foolish,” Cebrowski said. “The only thing it does is prohibit public funding. Why should I pay for something that’s against my values and my principles?”

Expressing concern over the bill’s potential impacts, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Senior Policy Advisor Jennifer Frizzell said that this was not the case.

“We certainly have a primary concern that all the kinds of services that prevent the need for abortion will be de-funded under this bill,” Frizzell said. “The underlying intent of making abortion more difficult to obtain and to have secure locations for women to receive it will only mean there are more delays and more health impacts that are destructive to women’s health.”

Frizzell said the bill will negatively impact the Title X Family Planning Program that provides health care for women who are uninsured and who do not qualify for Medicaid. While regulations prevent health care providers from using Title X funds to perform abortions, the program does require providers to give non-judgmental and unbiased answers to a woman’s questions about her pregnancy options, Frizzell said.

The Hyde Amendment also prohibits women receiving Medicaid from using Medicaid money for any abortion-related services unless her pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother, Frizzell said.

Planned Parenthood health centers provide medical services to 16,000 women in New Hampshire, Frizzell said. Abortions comprise 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood and are funded through patients’ private funds, private insurance providers, Planned Parenthood charitable funds or loan funds.

The bill represents a broader shift in New Hampshire’s “policy tradition” toward “attacks on women’s health,” Frizzell said.

“When did New Hampshire become the Mississippi of New England?” she said.

However, Deputy Medicaid Director of New Hampshire Lisabritt Solsky said that the bill violates two provisions of federal Medicaid law that requires states to ensure adequate access to insurance and allow willing health care providers to accept patients insured with Medicaid.

If the bill is enacted into law, the Medicaid administration will have to contact 24 of the 26 hospitals and health clinics that provide abortion services to ask them to either stop providing elective abortions or remove the hospitals from the Medicaid program, Solsky said.

The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of New Hampshire has gathered thousands of signatures from citizens who are opposed to bills that limit women’s access to abortion services, according to NARAL spokeswoman Laura Thibault.

“We have a lot of anti-women, anti-family, anti-choice legislators in this particular legislative session,” Thibault said. “We are counting on the Senate to be more reasoned in their approach and to really keep the best interests of women and families in mind and also the best interests of New Hampshire in mind.”

NH House debates marijuana bill

New Hampshire Senate Bill 409, currently under consideration in the state House of Representatives’ Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee after narrowly passing 13-11 in the Senate two weeks ago, proposes controversial legislation on the statewide legalization of medical marijuana.

Although the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jim Forsythe, R-Strafford, said that legalization could provide much-needed relief to “500 to 1,000 New Hampshire residents,” the bill concerns some law enforcement officials and medical experts, who said it could do more harm than good.

The bill has always had “strong support” in the House, and the remaining obstacle is Gov. John Lynch, D-N.H., who has expressed disapproval of the bill, Forsythe said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

“In order to override the governor’s veto, we would need 16 senators to vote in favor of the bill,” Forsythe said. “We are trying to work in the House subcommittee to get it to a place where either the governor or three additional senators could support it.”

Sixteen states have already passed laws allowing patients to grow and use marijuana for medical use with permission from a physician, but Forsythe said New Hampshire’s approach would differ dramatically from that of states like California, where marijuana can be grown in dispensaries. Bill 409 is a “home-grow” bill designed to keep marijuana use limited to those with a medical need, he said.

“The patients can either cultivate it themselves, or if they are unable or unwilling, they can get a caregiver,” Forsythe said. “There is a limit on the number of plants that can be grown, a caregiver can only have one patient and neither the patient nor the caregiver is allowed to make a profit only [enough] to recoup their losses.”

In California, the Department of Public Health maintains a registry of all patients who qualify for the Medical Marijuana Program, according to Matt Conens, an information officer at the CDPH Office of Public Affairs.

“The MMP identification card is used to help law enforcement identify the cardholder as being able to legally possess certain amounts of medical marijuana under specific conditions,” Conens said. “The qualified patient must complete an application, provide identification and documentation, have a photo taken and pay the necessary fees.”

Since the MMP began in 2003, the CDPH has issued a total of 59,302 cards, with 4,267 issued in fiscal year 2011-2012, according to Conens.

New Hampshire’s bill comes in a “climate of more aggressive enforcement” by the federal government toward medical marijuana growth, according to Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Karin Eckel, who heads the Drug Crime Prosecution Unit. Although several states have legalized medical marijuana usage, all uses are criminalized under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

“There was originally a policy that the federal government wouldn’t arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patients,” Eckel said. “Since then, states have enlarged their laws in one way or another, either through dispensaries or home grow, and now the government is moving forward with the prosecution.”

The bill includes several requirements for patients and caregivers to be able to acquire a growing license, which are designed to avoid “a situation like California,” Forsythe said.

“What patients have to have is a recommendation from a doctor or physician who is qualified to prescribe controlled substances, with whom they have had a relationship for at least three months to prevent doctor shopping,” he said. “If they have one of the predetermined diseases, as well as certain symptoms of the disease, then they can apply to the Department of Health and Human Services. If they’re a caregiver, they have to pass a criminal background check.”

The bill would also make it a Class B felony for individuals in the program to sell to others, Forsythe said.

Despite the precautions, the bill remains a legal concern for state officials, according to Eckel.

“It would put doctors and patients in the center of what is really a legal feud between the states and the federal government,” she said. “The ones who are in a position to lose are the states and the doctors.”

The only action that would make legalization more viable would have to come from the federal government, in the form of “rescheduling” marijuana to a Schedule II drug. The process would allow researchers to determine whether marijuana actually has medicinal value and require the drug to pass the standard testing process of the Food and Drug Administration, according to Eckel. Currently, under its Schedule I classification, the federal government does not allow marijuana to be dispensed, prescribed or researched, Eckel said.

Legalizing the drug is “premature” considering the lack of research on the most effective way to use its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, according to Benjamin Nordstrom, professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine.

“There aren’t good studies showing that medical marijuana is better than delivering THC by itself, which already comes legally in the form of a drug called dronabinol,” Nordstrom said. “No one would argue that the cannabinoids aren’t useful, but it’s unclear as to what is the best way to get those different agents to the different receptors.”

Data shows that THC is useful as an appetite stimulant and anti-nausea drug, as well as an effective painkiller, according to Nordstrom. The FDA has approved the legal pill version for the treatment of AIDS-related weight loss and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Nordstrom said that medical marijuana needs to be treated with the same scrutiny as all other drugs before it can be approved for widespread use.

“Nobody would say that we should smoke opium, even though that’s a great way to get cough suppressant and it has pain-relieving medicinal properties,” he said. “It’s analogous to what we’ve seen with prescription painkillers in this country, where the number of people using them has exploded with the number of drugs available. Whether we’re talking about Oxycotin or Xanax or marijuana for that matter, if doctors prescribe these things carelessly without good scientific evidence, they can actually spread addiction.”

Legalization could also be an impetus for criminal activity in the state, according to Eckel.

“It’s proven to be very difficult for patients to grow their own when they are very sick, and they often don’t have the time or resources to engage a caregiver to set up proper growing operations,” she said “It would be bringing people in who know there’s a so-called legitimate marker for consumers in New Hampshire and drawing in even more of a criminal element then is already here.”

The attorney general’s office is also concerned with teen abuse of marijuana, which Eckel said is “already a big problem in New Hampshire.”

“When you treat marijuana as medicine, it sends a message to younger people that it’s a safe substance,” she said. “Those of us who work in law enforcement do see the connection between marijuana use and troubled kids, addiction and criminal acts.”

The strict regulations in the bill would significantly help negate these concerns, according to Forsythe.

“This can make a huge difference for a lot of people, whether it’s allowing them to continue on with cancer patients or treating multiple sclerosis or glaucoma,” he said. “We’re making sure that people aren’t getting into this program and diverting it for other uses, and we’ll continue to work with law enforcement to see how we can address their concerns.”

Nordstrom stressed the difference between decriminalizing the drug and legalizing it, as legalizing empowers a lobby and allows for advertising.

“Being able to champion something makes it into a public health problem, as you can recruit people into using it,” he said. “Once you legalize something, there are first amendment rights to petition the government for redress of grievances and people can use their influences to trade off of the public good for private gain. Then you have the rise of a legitimized Big Cannabis,’ which we need about as badly as we need Big Tobacco’ or Big Alcohol.'”

This is the essence of the problem in California, where federal officials have begun to crack down on dispensaries, the number of which has exploded “far more than anyone anticipated,” Nordstrom said.

“The city tried to close the dispensaries, but they now have legal grounds for their existence, which means they can fight their closing in court,” he said. “There’s also just been a proliferation of people getting cards for medical marijuana for conditions where there is no evidence of the kind of efficacy that would meet the standards for any other treatment.”

Although the time for legalization has not yet come, this is far from the end of exploration into medical marijuana, according to Nordstrom.

“The benefits of cannabinoids are very real, and what we need to do is conduct research to figure out what is the best and safest and most effective way to use those chemicals and find out what conditions they are really useful for,” he said. “Doctors really should not do things that are potentially dangerous without having a substantive body of literature and scientific evidence to back up their actions, and we’re not there with smoked marijuana yet.”

SA Candidates talk Greek issues

Student Assembly presidential and vice-presidential candidates participated in the third of four scheduled debates at Sigma Delta sorority on Thursday night, discussing the aspects of the Greek system that they think make it essential to campus life as well as ways they would seek to improve it in the future.

Most of the debate’s questions were directed to presidential candidates Max Hunter ’13, Suril Kantaria ’13, Erin Klein ’13, J.T. Tanenbaum ’13 and Rachel Wang ’13, though vice-presidential candidates Julia Danford ’13, Troy Dildine ’13, Sahil Joshi ’13, James Lee ’13 and Callista Womick ’13 also took part.

Shortly after the debate concluded, Lee announced his decision to withdraw from the race.

“Having reflected and talked to various people and friends, I’ve started to see what I want my senior year to look like,” Lee said. “I no longer feel that the vice president position is in my best interest.”

Thursday’s debate was hosted by the Greek Leadership Council. The debate moderators, former Panhellenic Council president Ellie Sandmeyer ’12 and Greek Leadership Council moderator Duncan Hall ’13, asked the candidates about the role of Greek life on campus and their ideas to address the problems of exclusion, binge drinking, sexual assault and violence associated with the Greek system.

Greek organization presidents asked the candidates questions in person or submitted their questions to the moderators before the event, and there was a brief opportunity for the audience to ask questions at the end of the debate. By the debate’s 6 p.m. start time, the audience filled the first floor seating of Sigma Delt, and latecomers were forced to stand in the back or crowd the entryway.

All five of the presidential candidates are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority, while three of the five vice-presidential candidates identified themselves as affiliated.

The presidential candidates agreed that Greek organizations provide a social space for affiliated and unaffiliated students to enjoy and create strong bonds between members. While they said that the fundamental system is not flawed, candidates argued that there needs to be an emphasis on increasing accountability, transparency and respect among those who choose to participate in Greek life.

“We need to ensure that we’re staying true to the values of community,” Klein said. “We should award houses for having the highest [grade point averages] and philanthropy hours.”

Presidential candidates were careful to note the Assembly’s limited jurisdiction in dealing with the problems in the Greek system and instead emphasized the need for house leadership to take on these tasks.

Hunter, Kantaria and Wang advocated for more sorority houses on campus to make the Greek system less male-dominated. Klein disagreed, arguing that the solution to the problems created by gender-specific spaces would not be solved by creating more of these spaces. Tanenbaum focused on the need to increase ongoing education within the houses about these issues, a focus that other candidates then jumped to affirm as well.

Hunter emphasized the problems posed by national sororities, which do not allow open parties for the whole community to attend.

“We need to get rid of the ridiculous ban on local sororities and support more physical plants for new houses,” he said.

Wang argued for more non-Greek spaces such as the one currently being designed in the basement of the Class of 1953 Commons and discouraged her fellow candidates from labeling these spaces “alternative.”

Hunter, however, argued that Wang’s plan would probably not work because these spaces will not attract students under the legal drinking age.

When the presidential candidates were asked about what aspect of the Greek system they would change, the candidates generally agreed that Greek houses should increase their mechanisms for internal accountability. The candidates noted, however, that administrative positions are already in place for Greek system oversight.

“It’s not the role for [the Assembly] to govern the Greek system,” Tanenbaum said. “We need to get the GLC, [Inter-Fraternity Council] and Panhell more involved in individual houses through using outreach to work with Greek students and emphasizing education programs.”

Kantaria stressed similar points and said that Greek houses should focus on developing their own standards for acceptable behavior by establishing a code of conduct within their house.

Klein was alone in suggesting that the Assembly play a part in applying social pressure to Greek organizations that have a record of breaking College policy instead of relying on existing Greek policies and general College administrators.

Klein’s suggestion was met with rebuttals from Hunter and Tanenbaum.

The candidates agreed that the Assembly could play a greater role in advertising the variety of Greek organizations on campus, citing the limited information that freshmen received about houses that were not seen as being “mainstream.”

Kantaria took this point further by emphasizing his plan to have liaisons from various Greek organizations attend Assembly meetings a suggestion that other candidates compared to a similar, failed plan by former Assembly President Eric Tanner ’11.

Instead of establishing liaison positions, Tanenbaum discussed the need to increase communication and dialogue among Greek organization leaders.

“We need to come together to talk about issues we all face,” Tanenbaum said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people in leadership positions, and they say that they don’t feel like they know anyone else running groups across campus.”

Candidates were asked how they would react if they found a letter describing plans for future hazing by a student group on campus. Wang, Kantaria and Klein said that they would quickly take action to contact the relevant group’s leader to follow up on the situation.

Hunter and Tanenbaum said they would be careful to try to understand the context of the situation before acting.

“On paper, hazing looks very black and white,” Hunter said. “But hazing is not a catch-all. It’s not about wearing funny clothes.”

Tanenbaum said that any member of the College community, not just the Assembly president, should be impelled to act in such a situation.

Upon resigning, Lee said that the other candidates all “bring their own capabilities to the table.” Although he has not decided to endorse a candidate, Lee said that experience on the Assembly will be especially important to a successful presidency.

“The candidates need to critically examine the proposals that they have made to see if they are feasible within [the Assembly] and can be met in their three terms,” Lee said. “Given the general lack of [Assembly] experience, it’s even more important that a presidential candidate have experience because its likely he is going to need to train his VP.”

Kantaria is a member of The Dartmouth Staff. Lee is a former member of The Dartmouth Senior Staff.

Portman could receive VP nod from Romney

Correction appended

As the race for the Republican presidential nomination continues to narrow, Sen. Rob Portman ’78, R-Ohio, has emerged as one of the top contenders for the Republican vice presidential nomination on the ticket with former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., according to both the national media and Dartmouth professors.

Portman would give a major boost to Romney’s campaign because he hails from a swing state, according to professors interviewed by The Dartmouth.

“Portman is on the short list because he represents Ohio, a must-win swing state for Romney,” government professor Linda Fowler said in an email to The Dartmouth. “He has stature within the Republican Party and good relationships with Democrats in Congress, and he also has broad experience governing with past positions ranging from international trade to the budget.”

Portman is the former U.S. Trade Representative and was the director of the Office of Management and Budget under former U.S. President George W. Bush. In August, Portman was named to the 12-member bipartisan “supercommittee” that was charged with cutting $1.5 trillion from the national deficit over the next decade, through the group failed to reach an agreement by the Thanksgiving deadline.

Portman is largely perceived as an accomplished politician with a strong policy record and political resume, according to Thomas Mann, a government studies scholar at the Brookings Institution.

“Portman is a good choice and he’s seen as a safe choice because he’s got substantial experience in the executive as well as the legislative branch, and he’s got a reputation among colleagues for being a serious-minded guy,” he said.

Portman’s work under the last Republican administration, however, may disenchant some constituents, according to Mann.

“No one associated with the George [W.] Bush administration usually advertises that fact,” Mann said. “We went from a budget surplus to a budget deficit, while [Portman] and others were working on the budget, so there are some negative aspects.”

Government professor Brendan Nyhan said that it was important to note that vice presidential candidates often “don’t matter very much.”

“They might give you a boost of a few points in the state they’re from, and on the margin Portman might help Romney in Ohio a little, but I think these nominees are overstated,” Nyhan said.

A spokesperson at Portman’s Washington, D.C. office said that Portman was not interested in the position and that he did not think Romney would select him as his running mate.

One of the key roles for the vice president will be to reassure conservatives, according to Nyhan.

“Romney is still consolidating his base, and he’s going to be under pressure to pick someone who is acceptable to conservatives, someone who can speak on his behalf and convince them that he’s a president that they can support,” Nyhan said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., may be better able to please the evangelical conservative base, according to government professor Joseph Bafumi.

“Romney may be concerned with keeping the face of the Republican party intact,” Bafumi said. “Evangelicals are a little hesitant about Romney’s nomination, and he might try to placate them by picking someone who shares their views, like Marco Rubio.”

Choosing Rubio would present both benefits and challenges for Romney’s campaign, Mann said.

“Rubio is distinctly more charismatic, he’s Hispanic, he’s Cuban-American and from a Southern state, but it isn’t clear whether he would bring a measurable advantage from the Hispanic community to the ticket,” Mann said. “He’s much more of a newcomer on the national scene, and there’s probably more risk associated with him.”

Romney has not yet decided what he is looking for in a vice president and so has “every interest in waiting and seeing how the contest takes shape,” Mann said.

Romney is unlikely to finalize his decision on a running mate until weeks before the Republican National Convention in late August.

“If there’s a lot of grousing within the Republican party among religious conservatives and Tea Party members, or if the economy has done reasonably well by that time, then he might consider something bolder,” Mann said. “He might opt for Rubio or [Rep. Paul] Ryan [R-Wis.] in order to transform the ticket in some way.”

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Romney will likely choose a running mate after the Republican National Convention when in fact he will make the decision before the convention.