Howdy! My university is currently in the middle of its Spring Break, something that doesn’t fail to amuse my comrades in the UC and CSU systems, who have their Break a bit later I believe. Nevertheless, I’ve elected to use this time to catch up on my schoolwork and, as our professor was kind enough to mention that his next exam would involve copious amounts of cell signalling pathways, I figured that I should probably get cracking on that. But before I do, it’s time for my usual blather in the form of the Sunday Post.
So, my university just finished having their student body elections to determine just who will be sitting at the helm for the next academic school year and, while the candidates that I supported unfortunately lost, I’m fairly happy with the results. Fairly happy with just a smidge of “Yep, I knew it”. See, while most of the other positions were embarrassingly uncontested, the race for president and vice president was much more heated than I remembered last year’s being. There were four candidates, which I’ll just summarize with monikers that will, hopefully, be enlightening in regards to my own opinion of them as well as somewhat hilarious because at least one of the candidates totally was:
- The two people that you see pitching in everywhere: Clearly, my pick for this election. They actually came in second, I believe, which is definitely where I’d thought they’d be if they hadn’t just straight up won because they’re just that good. Both the potential president and VP are driven and responsive people who have consistently contributed to the university as a whole well before trying their hand at an actual office. I would trust them with all of my issues, or at least the ones relevant to my experiences here at Pacific. So, why didn’t they win? It’s probably a mix of the other two candidates having a bit of a Ross Perot effect and their sheer comparability with the candidates who actually did win. Again, I felt that they were really, really close; they could’ve taken it if not for numbers 2 and 3.
- The two inexperienced frat boys with nothing but partying on the brain: Now, I’ve actually gotten a LOT of flak for calling these two “frat boys” and I get that not all of the people in fraternities (or sororities, for that matter) behave in that stereotypical manner that we’re all accustomed to. However, these two fit the bill to a T. Traditionally, the people that run for President and VP also happen to be upperclassmen, juniors and/or seniors who, having spent some time at the university, a) want to contribute to their student body, preferably before they graduate and b) have taken the time to make those connections to, not only students, but the faculty that they’ll soon be working closely with in their new positions. While this group had plenty of a), I felt that not only were they lacking b), but were a bit too naive in their ambitions. Would it be great if Pacific had more of a social scene? I guess, but that’s not why we’re here. Could we make improvements to the catering company that serves our school? Sure, but you could’ve done that anyway if you organize, connect, and are incredibly persistent. One of my band directors back in high school said it to me this way: you don’t need to be in a position of power to have power. These two running for office did nothing, I feel, but detract from the much more viable candidates; their biggest appeal had an emotional sob story as their linchpin, not the interests of the student body. I would’ve recommended that they sit on the sidelines and mature a bit more, become a bit more certain and aware of what they say and how they carry themselves, and only then toss their hat into the ring. Do I sound harsh and critical? Yes, I hope so! I actually want them to reevaluate their strategy, cut out that ridiculous and irrelevant crap about having it so much harder than everyone else (because everyone does in their own way, get over it), and come back sharp and focused. They could easily come back next year and take the office; they’ve got the time to do so.
- The BUSI/COMM double robots: Honestly, these two came out of nowhere. I could be exaggerating or it could be due to my coursework keeping me on the other side of campus, but I had never seen or heard of these people before the election. I’m not saying that they’re terrible; at least they had the good sense to not call Stockton “ghetto” in front of people who are actually from Stockton (like The Frat Boys did; truly cringe-worthy). And, really, if you think about it, people who are versed in the art of public speaking and business management are probably more than qualified to hold a public office, or at least I’d hope so. But, see, while I’m certain that these two could theoretically be strong contenders, what with their training in their respective fields, I felt that they were overall forgettable. I went to the debates that were supposed to exhibit all of the candidates at their best and these two didn’t make much of an impression. Again, it’s a bit of a shame; their talents have been cultivated for this sort of thing and yet they neglected to put points into their Charisma, so to speak. I only call them robots because one had a monotone and the other had some hyperinflections going on or something.
- The already-made men: Or, to the rest of the student body, our new President and Vice President for the 2013-2014 academic year. Now, why do I call them “already-made”? Because, like the Mafia, these two already had an “in”; they both have prior experience in the student body office under Arts and Entertainment, better known as the section of ASuop that is the most public, the most influential, and definitely in better standing than all of the rest of ASuop combined. Why? A&E throws the parties, hosts the concerts, and generally caters to students. Here on campus, if you’ve ever been to an event hosted by ASuop, it was most likely A&E’s doing. What’s more, they did exactly what one should do when in a favorable position like this one: they capitalized on it immensely. And it worked for them, clearly. Again, I would’ve voted for these two if the people that I actually voted for had not appeared just because they are that favorable; they know the system from the inside-out, they have those crucial connections in place already, and they’re generally amicable people, either naturally or because they’ve grown accustomed to it in their work.
So, why didn’t I vote for the people with the in, then? Believe it or not, it’s precisely because they had the in and there was a better candidate, in my opinion, who wasn’t so deep into the very system that I wanted to change as a voter. Nothing against ASuop, but come on: you’re going to have a sort of nepotism inherent in place. Who gets hired? People who know people who are already working there. Who controls the flow of information? The people who work there. Who has intimate contact with the people who actually run this institution? The people who work there, especially the President of the Student Body. It’s literally their job to be the mouthpiece for the President of the University, to act as a kind of bridge between the students and the regents. And I believe that the current acting president and VP are also cut from the same cloth, being people who got their start in the Student Body Office. Have they done their job as that increasingly vital connection? Nope. Is it too far-fetched to assume that the president-elect and his VP will do exactly the same thing and be just as ineffectual? Not at all, methinks.
Keep in mind that this is just an assumption. There is also the possibility of our new officers kicking all sorts of ass, so to speak, and rallying to the students’ defense in matters that are near and dear to our hearts, like those nasty tuition hikes and certain unwise decisions to build certain buildings that, while picturesque, are generally pointless and without great merit in addressing the issue of overpopulation in the residence halls (which, granted, could be solved in other ways, though I have a sneaking suspicion that our Board of Regents isn’t too overly concerned about the matter or anything aside from remaining “financially solvent”, to use their jargon). So, yes, I’m horribly cynical when it comes to the people in charge of our student body. I’m just basing this on what I’ve seen in my time here at Pacific: absolutely nothing being done, no pushes to keep our Board in check, no transparency in matters that affect all of us, nada.
Granted, it is rather difficult to be effectual when that body that you’re supposed to hold accountable makes it damned difficult to do so. It’s not uncommon that an initiative to take both the students’ view and the regents’ view into account in the form of, oh, let’s say a committee of some sort, to be undercut by an unwillingness to communicate effectively. Or to just stop at talking without actually doing anything. Or to not even have the chance to talk because some people can’t be bothered to rearrange their schedules to accommodate the people they claim to represent, who are trying to do that and work on their various degrees so that they can contribute in their respective fields. I have a feeling that, in order to effectively be heard as a student body, it’s going to take more than effective point-men at the forefront (which the president-elect and his running mate totally are).
I’m going to be utterly and cruelly blunt: it’s going to take our regents, the people that we’ve entrusted the future of our school to, getting their heads out of their collective ass and trusting us, the students, to hold some sort of awareness and attentiveness when it comes to more than just tuition hikes. It’s going to take the students, in turn, to worry more about what’s going to happen in their time here and cultivating the ability to empathize with the regents as well as project their visions of the future beyond their undergraduate careers in this institution and actually giving a shit about what will happen to this place after they leave. And, most of all, everybody is going to have to stop trying to look good and actually fucking doing something. Give me some results, not a building that I have no use for! Don’t give me a bullshit plan for the future and then sit on your hands about the details! I want answers to my questions, not your usual, infuriating, PC runaround! I want our President to hold consistent office hours, just like every other professor on campus is beholden to whether people actually show up or not. Either that, or welcome everyone to your house on campus instead of those parties for the select few that you seem to damned insistent on; those aren’t enough. You can’t go around sampling only a few and believing that you have the voice of the entire student body, Madam President. It’s statistical bullshittery, it makes for opinions tainted by pointless pandering, and it needs to stop. Why am I demanding the unreasonable? Because I want the unreasonable: to get involved in a way that doesn’t detract from why I am actually here.
Long story short: am I glad that I voted in the ASuop elections, despite the fact that the people I supported didn’t win? You bet your ass I am!