A Stifled Voice in the Wilderness

by Drew Pluhar | 4/14/99 5:00am

Wanted: One candidate for SA President. Must have maintenance of the Greek system as top priority. Ability to effectively communicate and listen a MUST. Experience as Assembly Insider not necessary. In fact, not desired. If interested, register as official candidate.

Call me an optimist. My faith in the student body led me to believe that on election day, I would be casting my vote for a staunchly pro-Greek candidate. Upon reading the platforms in the Election Update and attending the SA Speech Night, I realized that no such candidate had emerged. As a result, I have decided to enter the race for SA President as a write-in candidate.

As reported by The Dartmouth, "While some leaders, affiliated and unaffiliated alike, expected a dominating Greek figure to run for president and rule the race, rallying students on a single-issue platform of opposing the Trustees' Five Principles for social reform, the three serious candidates are all Assembly insiders." ("The Dartmouth," 13 April 1998.)

First and foremost, I am not an Assembly insider.

Rest assured, I am a serious candidate. Door locks, 24 hour study spaces, more viable social options, a course evaluation guide, and a better system for pre-major advising are all important issues. My position on all of these issues is simple: student voice must guide the decision-making process.

The freedom to choose our social options will be the defining issue in this election. The Greek system is part of this College's institutional identity. If we lose it, we relinquish our only existing social option. More importantly, we establish a dangerous precedent whereby a vocal minority of students and a detached Board of Trustees impose policy mandates on a dissenting majority.

This is unprecedented. This is unjust. This is unacceptable.

However, this is not to say or suggest that my policies will be purely reactive. I will be proactive and innovative in re-establishing the undergraduate voice as the primary driver of administrative policy. After all, isn't that why we have a Student Assembly to begin with?

Some would say that as a write-in candidate I am an underdog. I don't see it that way. I can't. 82% of us have repeatedly spoken out against the dismantling of the Greek System. It has become unmistakable that this issue will come to define the Student Assembly agenda for the coming year. As students, our response to the Trustees' Five Principles will be our undying contribution to the College.

This is an opportunity. It is also a responsibility. Too often the majority has been silent. In the past, "forgetting" to vote hasn't meant a whole lot. Unfortunately, silence this year will be construed as a vote in support of the Trustees. On Monday and Tuesday, we will choose the next SA President. We will also set a course for the College's future. This IS a referendum.