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October 28, 2014

Statement of Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon and Stanford President John Hennessy

Note to Editors: Stanford University and Dartmouth College are seeking the assistance of news media in publicizing to local voters the below statement from Stanford and Dartmouth, clarifying the facts around a recent election mailer produced as part of an academic research study. The mailer was delivered to voters in the 4th and 25th Congressional Districts of California.

On behalf of Stanford and Dartmouth universities, we sincerely apologize for any confusion or concern caused by an election mailer recently sent to voters in California's 4th and 25th Congressional Districts from Stanford and Dartmouth researchers as part of an academic research study.

The mailer should have been much more clearly presented as the research tool it was intended to be, leaving no ambiguity about its purpose or origin.  We recognize that the purpose of elections is to enable our democratic systems to operate, and that no research study should risk disrupting an election.  We genuinely regret that it was sent and we ask voters to ignore the mailer.

The mailer was part of an independent study by political science professors to determine whether voters who are given more information are more likely to vote.  The mailer was not affiliated with any political party, candidate or organization, and was not intended to influence any race.  The mailer was in no way affiliated with or approved by the State of California.

The mailer featured a graph that ranked candidates on a scale from liberal to conservative, based on publicly available information. Unfortunately, even though the mailer contained a statement that it "is non-partisan and does not endorse any candidate or party," some voters may have felt that the graph appeared to create a partisan alignment of the candidates.  That was certainly not the intent.

Both of our campuses are investigating all aspects of the matter, including whether Stanford and Dartmouth research rules and standards have been appropriately followed. We do know that the research proposal was not submitted to Stanford's Institutional Review Board for approval, which is a clear violation of university policy.

We are sorry that this mailer may have been disconcerting and disruptive to some voters. We take very seriously our responsibility to conduct research and provide education that contributes to, but does not hinder, an informed citizenry.



Lisa Lapin, Stanford University: (650) 725-8395,

Justin Anderson, Dartmouth College: (603) 646-3017,


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