Newton brings 'freshman fire'

by David Klein | 5/22/01 5:00am

Though the Homecoming bonfire was extinguished several months ago, recently elected Student Body Vice-President Michael Newton '04 continues to keep his own "freshman fire"-- a term he often used throughout his campaign "to describe the immense enthusiasm and dedication I bring to things" -- ablaze.

Despite his youth -- the vice presidency has historically been reserved for upperclassman -- Newton's victory is particularly astonishing considering he did not participate in student government throughout high school. According to Newton, he was inspired to join the Assembly after his sister, a junior at Bowdoin, told him to "do as much as you can at college."

Examining Newton's list of accomplishments over his first few months at Dartmouth, it is clear that he has taken these words to heart. Aside from his work on the Assembly, Newton is a Book Buddy, the Community Service Chair on the '04 Class Council and also works a night shift at Novack Caf, to name just some of his endeavors.

"[Michael] is really passionate about his projects," said friend Caryn Karo '04, who has had the opportunity to work with Newton while serving as '04 Class Council secretary.

"He's a really genuine person and people can see that about him," she added. "He really steps up and says what's on his mind."

It was this sort of candor that led Newton to vie for the vice-presidency.

According to Newton, it was during a friend's birthday party just before spring break that he received inspiration from his peers to seek office.

"I was discussing the changes that needed to be made on campus," recalled Newton, who was told by the partygoers that he should express his ideas to the entire community.

Once Newton formally announced his candidacy weeks later, he was surprised by the reaction of the student body.

"People were not only accepting," he said, "they were enthusiastic."

"I think Mike really showed what he is made of in the election itself," said fellow Assembly representative Joshua Marcuse '04." It took guts to run as a freshman, even when fellow '04s were doubting that he was old enough," he continued. "His confidence in himself led others to have confidence in him and so he won."

While current Student Assembly President Jorge Miranda felt that, on the whole, the vice presidency should not be undertaken by a sophomore, he noted, "Mike Newton is one of the few exceptions."

In the short time that Newton has spent on the Assembly, Marcuse believed his friend has proved his leadership abilities.

"I think Mike is a good leader because he has [several] necessary components: eagerness to work hard, enthusiasm for the job, commitment to the Assembly ... and because he also has backbone," Marcuse explained.

Newton's charisma appears to transcend the political spectrum.

"He's a real fun person," Karo said. "He loves to talk and find out about people."

"He is very likable, he's funny, and he has a way of making you feel comfortable around him," Marcuse agreed.

Newton said he is eager to begin serving as student body vice-president and has already begun to initiate some of his new duties, including assigning people to the Assembly's various committees.When discussing his role as vice-president, Newton explained, "You're judged by your merits," a criteria that he believed "is not correlated to the two numbers that follow your last name."

Though Newton claimed he hasn't even thought about running for Student Body President next year, Miranda said, "I wouldn't rule it out."

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