Sunday, February 12, 2006

Notre Dame's Student Goverment Equals Your High School's. Seriously.

I was going to spend this weekend analyzing the Notre Dame Student Body presidential candidates’ websites and Facebook profiles, trying to come up with the Blog’s Recommendation and giving you enough information in one place that you could accurately make your own decision. I had memorized the Scholastic and Observer articles, brushed up on my Facebook stalking skills, watched the Jason Laws Next a half dozen times and saved the e-mail with links to all of the websites. I was ready to go.

Then I realized this indisputable, 100% true fact:

It doesn’t matter who wins this thing. The Notre Dame Student Body president has about as much power as your high school student body president. Granted, you’re exerting that power over more people and on a larger scale, but in contrast, those people checking your power aren’t just a faculty advisor and the school principal, but multi-millionaires who could make you disappear off the map if you crossed them or tried to push something they didn’t approve of. The Catholic Gestapo, if you will. If you look back at what the Baron-Shappell combination have done for us this year….yeah, not a lot. And whoever the hell was in charge before them, the people skewered by The Observer for not achieving anything? Nada.

However, why punish Shappell and her new running mate, Billy Andrichik, whenever you can’t possibly achieve anything as student body president? They got some textual fellatio from The Observer Friday, with their Worst Idea listed as “None”, but is there anything that different from what they’ll achieve to what the Zahm freshmen running who want to build an Aggro Crag in The Rock? There will still be senate members trying to push things through, and there will still be university regulations stopping all but the most minor of items – 8 oz. To-Go cups? – from making it through.

There’s obviously some really bad ideas from the other candidates – Black/Martinez wants to eliminate dances in an effort to improve gender relations, Laws/Costa wants to have cut-outs of Jenkins to stick post-its on – but it’s not like any of the really bad ideas are going to get done, just like odds are nearly perfect that none of the good ideas are going to make it through, either. Again, it doesn’t matter whose in charge, because the president and vice president have no real power. Saying Shappell should be back in office because of previous connections means about as much as saying she shouldn’t be back in office because of the little she’s already done as Dave Baron’s vice president:

Absolutely nothing. It doesn’t matter. She’s not going to get any more done as president than Jason Laws would, and at least this would give him a more public forum to complain about how Next shafted him. If you haven’t seen it, the poor guy had one attractive girl out of the bunch, one that was a mute and one that might have been the ugliest Next contestant ever. He handled the whole situation with style and class, but man, he got shafted.

(To be fair, I think Jason Laws would be a shoe-in for president if he hadn’t brought Bob Costa on. Costa’s 0-for-every ND election, and there seems to be a general resentment towards him in the sophomore class. I’ve never met the guy and don’t have any personal problem with him, and I’ve heard nearly as many people praise him as knock him, but his presidential campaign last year was based on the fact he got John Mayer to perform at his high school prom and had big music connections that would get sweet shows at ND. While he didn’t win the presidency, he did get to be SUB Program Director….and achieved nothing special with these sweet connections. Again, though, it’s very possible he just couldn’t because of the mountains of red tape that surround Our Mother’s University. I still think Laws probably would have dominated this thing – he was out in front of SDH tonight in a blizzard, reminding us to vote – but the Costa thing is going to cost him. He deserves better, too, especially after this Next thing.)

I don’t have anyone to recommend for you, but I do have a plan for next year. I want to find two qualified members of student or class government that would be willing to run for the presidency under the platform of “It really doesn’t matter who wins, so just pick us and we’ll try to do some cool stuff, like get EctoCooler in the Dining Halls”. Problem with that would obviously be that its hard to find a hardcore student government member who doesn’t feel sweeping changes can be made. Therefore, I think I want to manage the campaign of a ticket running under this platform. It would probably be a deathmatch against Costa, running for the position for the third straight year, and some other Attempted Resume Padders from the Senate or Junior class officers.

Honestly, I think it would be a winnable campaign. Nobody’s going to vote for freshmen or sophomores that run, and how could any ticket argue with the “Nothing is going to get done” concept when we could just look at all the promises of the last few winners and show how nothing got done, all while extolling the individuals who failed as victims of a system. How naïve and foolish will some serious, lifetime student government member sound trying to argue that they’ll make a huge difference when everybody before them has failed?

The best way to go would be to have an elaborate, well-researched platform, as the knocks against other joke campaigns is that they don’t know the issues. If the “Doesn’t Matter” platform were to be able to articulately describe their plans for community relations with South Bend and academic freedom, then end every debate point with “…and while we’re going to try to get this done, it probably won’t happen. Let’s be realistic.” Heck, rename the whole thing the “Let’s Be Realistic” campaign, and have the campaign be a two-pronged attack: One side all about the candidates platforms, the other showing the history of the ND presidency and how few changes are actually made.

As far as money campaigns go, that would be one. I just can’t but picture how silly the other candidates would look pushing their platforms in the face of the cold, hard facts that nobody gets anything accomplished.

“Informed Apathy”, “It Doesn’t Matter” or “Let’s Be Realistic”. Heck, why not have more than one slogan? Because as all West Shamokin alum know, “Change is Good”, but buttons with pictures of the Cleveland Indian wearing a sombrero are even better. I think I’m going to start planning this campaign as soon as the results of Monday’s are revealed.

Coming up, because this was meant to be a rambling but I flat ran out of time: A memoriam Arrested Development, a look at JJ Redick and Duke and some quality linkage.

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