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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Crimson Ed Board: revisionists grasp for an argument, legitimacy

It is quite rare indeed that you can actually watch an organization or group of people so thoroughly grasping for whatever legitimacy or respectability they once had on an issue as clearly as you can from reading today's Crimson editorial on the UC VP's resignation. Having endorsed what is now widely understood to be a disastrously bad Vice Presidency, the Ed Board is trying to rewrite history so that people won't figure out the truth: the Crimson made a huge mistake endorsing Ian and is trying desperately to save face. For anyone who knows anything about UC politics or what has happened in the last six months, the OpEd was silly, dishonest and dumb. Good lord, where do I even begin? I guess I'll just start at the beginning.(more in expanded post)

The premise of the entire article is, well, wrong. The whole thing is premised around the idea that the problem was one of interpersonal conflicts of style and personality:
The decision by Ian W. Nichols ’06 to resign on Sunday as Undergraduate Council (UC) Vice President was the best possible outcome for both the UC and the student body at large. As expected, Nichols turned out to be a contrarian Vice President, with a vision for the Council that did not line up with what the rest of the UC Executive Board had in mind.
I'm sorry, what exactly was his alternative vision? Why is this the first time anyone is hearing about it? When, do tell, exactly was there this clash of visions and styles? I've never, ever, heard of there being conflicts of opinion on the Exec Board or the UC of this type. Hell, I'm not sure Ian went to enough Exec Board meetings for that to even happen.

Next, as Jamal has pointed out at the end of what is undoubtedly the most hilarious string in Cambridge Common's long and illustrious three week history, is the idea that "UC representatives should remember that the student body voted a split ticket into power for a reason." Maybe I'm the only one, but to the best of my memory Ian won by 50 votes out of 4000, yes 50, because the Crimson endorsed him! As Jamal also points out, I'm not sure the Crimson wants to get into the conversation of why exactly the Crimson endorsed him.

Finally, the huge extent to which the Crimson skims over the issue of Ian's gross negligence and lack of effort points directly to the way that they are trying to save face to the student body who remembers that they endorsed him in December. Only three sentences in a five paragraph OpEd address the actual source of conflict and the reason that he resigned: his complete and utter lack of effort. The first two sentences, toward the beginning of the OpEd:
He failed to communicate effectively or forge common ground with his peer officers on the UC, and he missed Springfest, an event organized in the past by the Vice President and an event for which Nichols himself voted to allocate funds.
This is laughably dishonest and incorrect. It's not only "traditionally organized" by the veep, Ian agreed to organize it. The idea that him promising to be the lead organizer of an event that cost students tens of thousands of dollars, then neither organizing nor attending it, should be criticized in the context of "tradition" or that "he voted for funding" intentionally skims over the more painful, obvious reality.

If the Crimson were honest with its readers and really wanted to regain whatever legitimacy it once had on the issue of UC politics it should have said: "We endorsed Ian in December under unprecedented circumstances thinking he was something he was not. We made a huge mistake that we now regret, let's hope that whoever is elected as the replacement vice president does a better job than Ian did." But, unsurprisingly, they didn't say that. Instead, they tried to revise history and obscure the fact that they made a huge, embarrassing mistake.


At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd really like to find out how exactly the Crimson endorsements were decided/engineered. Does anyone have any insight on that issue?

At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is not relevant to the current thread but there is not yet a post regarding Capp's assumption of VP duties. I find it troubling that a different candidate did not accept nomination not because I have any personal issue with Capp's ability, but rather because his appointment has the odor of a foregone conclusion. On one hand I am pleased at the prospect of having a veep who can effectively work with Glazer to enact meaningful UC bills/reforms, but the appointment also has the potential to be a lightning rod for the "dissenting voice" on campus. The fact that Lurie got the amount of votes he did running to be an interim veep just to protest Capp's unchallenged appointment speaks to the doubts people-even UC people-feel towards Capp being VP.

Which leads me indirectly to my question- how much does student support of the UC executive board actually matter? Many of my friends/roomates don't seem to hold strong views one way or the other towards the VP resignation fiasco, yet from reading earlier posts I get a sense that a strong anti-exec.board sentiment exists within the population. If it is just a fringe radical group, fine. However it is difficult to determine the exact level of influence the fateful pro- split ticket Crimson editorial exerted on the student voter. To be truly effective it needed to work on some latent discontent regarding the status-quo policy of the UC or the record of Capp. How will this discontent be addressed? If it is not addressed and the voice of dissent fragments the legitimacy of the exec. board will it matter? (I'm thinking especially about the U.C.'s bargaining power with the administration). What do you foresee the consequences of Capp's election being in the legitimacy of the UC, and how they can be actively addressed.

At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I re-posted the previous comment in the right palce- so feel free to delete these 2 comments for compactness of the message boards

At 11:52 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

the above post was reposted in a newer thread and the conversation that ensued can be read there.


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