Parting Words As Dartmouth Heads to the Polls
Life really is full of surprises. For example, I didn't realize how insanely cold beach temperatures could get until I tried to spend spring break in Myrtle Beach last year sleeping under a boardwalk. Perhaps a less interesting story to some, but a more relevant one given today's Student Assembly elections, is that I have come to an eleventh-hour decision to support the candidacy of Julia Hildreth.
When my friend Adam found out, he blitzed, "Ahh, how far you've come, from the outsider candidate in 2002 to endorsing the truest mainstream candidate in 2004. You may yet have a future in the Democratic Party." Yes, Adam, the future is now, neo-cons beware. My decision to back Julia comes after long deliberations, as the two of us are very different individuals. We share few common interests outside of the Assembly, we have extremely different social lives, and her taste in music is woeful. But throughout this two-year adventure, no other person has fought harder for students than Julia. You can find out about her many accomplishments in her candidate statement, but here I want to talk about her character and her abilities.
One of the main reasons I ran for president two years ago was because I wanted students to be able to relate to the head of their student government, and so I sought to be accessible, visible, and resourceful. Though in those measures I believe I've succeeded, there is another area where I have failed, and that is to deliver on the major policy changes I had envisioned for this campus.
I have expressed myself articulately and forcefully at the unending series of administrative policies in the past three years that have ranged from mediocre to terrible. Despite being the only student in Dartmouth's history to be elected Student Body President twice, and despite earning a record 76 percent of the vote in last year's elections, I was still not take as seriously as I should have been by some in Parkhurst. On Greek issues administrators derided me as uninformed, when I in fact knew the policies inside and out. I've been told that my views were out of sync with student opinion, even after assembling more anecdotal and empirical data than any administrator could imagine. But after a full two years, I guess my temperament was not meant to mesh with the tones of Parkhurst. I promised to be a feisty straight-talker, and that turned out to not be good enough. But like Eminem once said, "If I could take it all back now I wouldn't, I woulda did more sh*t that people told me I shouldn't."
Julia Hildreth, however, has impressed me with her ability to work cooperatively with these administrators. She has good relationships with many of them, and is well respected by others. Yet so were Mike Perry, Molly Stutzman, et al. The question remains, will she use the opportunity for constructive relations to work on things students care about? I've decided that the answer is decidedly yes --- from athletics, to Greek issues, to undergraduate teaching, to student voice in Trustee decisions, her heart is in the right place, and she will go to bat for every issue that I would have, except more effectively than me or any other candidate in this race.
Like I said, Julia knows she is not the perfect candidate, but lest anyone seize on to the myth, she is not doing this for her resume, for law school, or for popularity. She could have won the vice presidency two years ago and this election now by doing far less grunt work in SA that no one wants to do and no one gives her credit for, like managing Tom Dent reservations and compiling campus-wide surveys. I can personally attest to her sincerity in wanting to be President only because she cares about improving campus. Second, Julia is not anti-Greek. This is a myth that has been circulated for quite some time now, and though she will not represent my beloved Webster Avenue brethren through quick sixes and ship battles, she will be there for them at the negotiating table.
In conclusion, I'd like to say a word about the other candidates. I consider Jim Baehr to be a good friend of mine, and his love for Dartmouth is unmatched by virtually anyone. He will be a great alum for this college. It is only because I simply thought Julia could get more done that I am not endorsing him. The same goes for Ralph Davies, one of the more genuine people I've met here, and Dave Wolkoff, both men I've worked with on SA before. And not only was the Novack Party founded by two of my best friends, but Mike Valmonte is an awesome guy, and you should make sure to come to the Cafe during the shift we close together on Thursdays.
I hope I have made an informed decision, and that's the most I can ask of all of you as you vote. I promise you that Julia Hildreth, if elected, has the potential to be the first Student Body President in recent history to enact sweeping change. But that doesn't mean she will if you all don't hold her to it. Progress, after all, is a team sport. And as I speak in my capacity as president to you all for perhaps the last time, I ask that you trust my judgment, because I've always wanted the best for students here, even the neo-cons.