Student responds to campaigning

To the Editor:

Negative campaigning, criticizing the current administration, boasting of past achievements, making promises, and doing whatever it takes to win. It must be election time again. Being busy with my own work, ideally I would not involve myself with an individual candidate’s campaign and would consider campaign statements to be just part of the “game.” However, I feel compelled to dispute some uninformed opinions voiced by candidate Reed Wiedower, before they are propagandized and come to be believed.

Goodrichgate:

The candidate has come up with a figure of $54,226 for the ambiguous category of “food for Fall of 1998.” Neither I, the Controller’s Office, nor the coffeebar managers know what this refers to. I am assuming that he means either food sale or spending. Whatever it is, that figure is totally inaccurate. I wish the coffeebar had made that much money. That would definitely have paid for the start-up costs. Additionally, the $4025 Goodrich manager’s salary is NOT for the Fall, as was claimed, but for the whole year. The salary was calculated at the Financial Aid Office’s specified managerial wage of $7/hr. This amount is the only money that College Council put into Goodrich, our student center, a move approved by CC.

Discretionary Fund from the Motor Coach:

The candidate has claimed that money left over from the motor coach service goes into a so-called discretionary fund of the College Council treasurer. This is simply not true. The College Council officers, not just one individual, determine how this money is spent. This money is used primarily for items that College Council does not want to use the Student Activities Tax to purchase. Because we did not run the shuttle service at the end of last year, we were lucky to have a small amount left over. (Note: there will be a shuttle service at the end of this year.) Therefore, we were able to make some purchases. Contrary to the candidate’s assertion, the laptop does not belong to Bert Leatherman. It is the property of College Council and will be used by future college council secretaries as a means of taking notes and keeping minutes at meetings.

The candidate’s call for “less committee logic” and his “throw the old system out” slogan concerns me. Currently, the “old system” includes voices from 35 different individuals elected by the student body to represent the students. Does throwing this old system out mean that one individual will make all the decisions to ensure that “demonstration would happen [and] protest would happen,” in order to achieve less committee logic?

What troubles me most is my sense that the candidate holds a certain disdain for the mundane. Deciding the location of soda machines may not be the most glamorous of College Council’s undertakings, but the decision must be made somewhere. Administration and leadership are not just about the big things; they require attention to the little things as well. The efficacy of College Council may begin to deteriorate if the leader of College Council spends all of his time sitting in the doorway of President Payne’s office.

While I applaud his awareness of the muted nature of dialogue on many racial and sexual issues on this campus, we must not make the mistake of believing that he possesses a monopoly on such awareness. In fact, I would be inclined to believe that candidates with a history of involvement in the Minority Coalition possess an even more acute awareness of the need for open dialogue on such issues.

The last issue that I would like to address is the concept of College Council as an efficient representative system. As it stands now, 35 elected representatives constitute the decision-making body and the elected voice of over 2000 students. They tackle a wide range of issues, and if they repeatedly fail to come to quick solutions to such weighty problems as racism and queer bashing, so be it. These are the big issues; if they had quick solutions, they wouldn’t be the big issues.

Echoing the theme of an on-going lecture series, I take these repeated failures to be evidence of a dogged determination to keep wrestling with the big issues. I see the record of College Council’s past achievements and failures as cause for celebration, not a debilitating cynicism. We only have 35 representatives; let’s put some real time and thought into choosing who they will be.

I wish the candidates good luck and encourage all of the students to come and vote this Tuesday and Wednesday.

Anh Nguyen ’99