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Sunday, December 04, 2005

why the Crimson will endorse Haddock/Riley, and why no one should care

As I have noted before, there are two very important facts about this race that every educated voter should know but that few do:

The first is that John Haddock, two weeks before this campaign began, was in support of a social programming body separate from the Council, funded by the Council and coordinating with UHall (this is according to my conversations with him and people throughout the Council leadership who also spoke to him). One week before this campaign began, after he had signed Josh Patashnik on as campaign manager and begun to formulate a message, he changed his mind and wrote to UC-general: "I don't think the UC can claim to know how to speak on behalf of the student body on this critical issue." He continued: "I've come to the conclusion that we on the Council have a responsibility to take this decision to the students." It's a cute line ("take it to the students") that would have been a cute campaign message, but the proposal received a cold reception from the Council, who mostly believe that this conversation is too complex and contingent to simplify into a meaningful referendum. And so, when the campaign began, Haddock discovered a new opinion and suddenly believed not only that he was wrong about the UC's ability to speak on behalf of students, but that he himself held an entirely new position that just happened to line up with that expressed not only by Patashnik over a month and a half ago in the Indy, but with the Harvard Crimson's Editorial Board. Now, I have no way of actually gauging Haddock's motivations, and one can simply argue that he had two consecutive and dramatic changes of heart. But, each change of heart came with considerable political gains, so I think it's fair to at least raise an eyebrow. (more in expanded post)

The second thing I mentioned is that this issue- the role of the UC in social programming- is THE issue of the campaign. While there are some who are motivated by other things, the majority of those on the Council and at the Crimson rightly view cutting or reforming one third of the Council is a fairly big deal and the most defining difference between the two major candidates. This, then, is why the Crimson is going to endorse Haddock/Riley. Whether Haddock truly had a conversion or shifted his opinion purely for political convenience we'll never know, but I simply can't imagine that the Crimson not endorsing the candidate with whom they agree on this most fundamental issue. It's simply the logical thing to do, and if any other candidate gets the Crimson's endorsement or their endorsement of Haddock/Riley is anything other than very enthusiastic, it will be a political victory for the other tickets (especially Voith/Gadgil) and Haddock's shifting opinions will not have paid off.

So why shouldn't we care? Because if the Crimson's endorsement is (again, logically) simply a reendorsement of its own staff position, it should really only matter to you if you agree with that position (which you shouldn't). I'll have more on the silliness and confusion that is the Haddock/Riley social programming plan later tonight (I'm doing, SHOCK, research to make sure I get it all right). But what people should remember is that, with this and the fact that Haddock has friends on the Ed Board who must be trying to whip votes for today's decision (as they logically would), Voith/Gadgil's chances become unfairly low.

In any event, we'll see what happens, you'll know when I do!


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Ben said...

You're correct that Haddock's social programming proposal will be more important than friendships in getting the endorsement.

Thankfully, I'm confident that the Voith/Gadgil campaign can't possibly try to claim that Haddock gets the Crimson endorsement due to personal connections. Why? Dan Koh has already made his position on this very clear:

"In addition, Ben’s comment that John would only get the endorsement of BMF “only because of his friendship with Kwame Owusu-Kesse” is a blatant insult to the intelligence and competency of the Black Men’s Forum. The BMF is a group who will decide their endorsement based on who they feel would be the best candidate to lead the student body, and through that criteria alone. To suggest that it will be due to personal reasons is a slap in the face and a comment of extreme disrespect."

Replace Kwame with Crimson editors and BMF with The Crimson and I think we're set.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Andrew Prokop said...

Good analysis, but just wait for Ben Milder to turn up. He'll set you straight by explaining how Haddock's heart is 100% pure, how every Haddock supporter is on his side purely because of his amazing platform, and how anyone supporting Voith can only be doing so out of friendship (or perhaps corruption). Ben, I like you, but when you're that nakedly partisan, you lose credibility with me (and others, I would guess).

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Andrew Prokop said...

oops, he did while i was writing the post

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Prokop! Who would have expected to run into you in yet another online Harvard forum ;).

Of course I have an agenda; find someone who doesn't. I don't think Haddock's heart is 100% pure necessarily, but it's not my job to tell the other side of the story, if there is one. I actually believe everything I've been writing, which I think differentiates me from people who do this professionally in DC!

Consider my comments or don't, but I think they're generally well-reasoned and accurate (with a couple exceptions like about E.E. in the other thread, which are quickly corrected).

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben -

You're comments are funny.

Try to not be so blatant in running the staff position on everything that is written on CC. This generally distracts from meaningful discussion.


Jack M

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Ben said...

McCambridge, is that you?

Feel free to engage my points or don't. In any case, the discussion should about Haddock, Voith, and Magnus, not me.

Of course I have my biases, but so do you. You're in the Voith facebook group.

If you wanted meaningful discussion, how come you haven't been commenting? The only participants in the debate here have been me, Golis, the campaign managers, a couple candidates, and the occasional CC reader or contributor. I would argue that despite the low participation, the discussions have in fact been substantive.

Naturally I approve of the Haddock platform, which is why I signed up with them. But all my posts are my own beliefs.

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Piotr Brzezinski said...

The biggest error in this post is the claim that Haddock's plans for the social planning board line up with Crimson's. If you look at the recent editorials on the UC and social planning, you can see that they differ fairly dramatically from Haddock's (especially as it has evolved over the course of the campaign). None of the candidates have offered a particularly good plan for improving social life, probably because no one knows how to make harvard students have fun...


For some of the crimson editorials, see:

At 4:25 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

"Instead of replacing the CLC with a directly elected twin, the SEC, we recommend that the funding for campus-wide events be channeled to groups that can have the most impact on student life: HoCos and the FYSC."

This is, in many ways, a major point of the Haddock/Riley campaign. Most importantly, the Haddock/Riley ticket has chosen to predicate their campaign on running against CLC (which the Crimson has consistently, and usually correctly hated).

So, is the Crimson's way of seeming legitimate going to be to dodge this issue and support Haddock/Riley anyway?

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't usually comment on CC, but I feel a little compelled now. You're just becoming unreasonable in your frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of the Crimson. I've given more than my share of grief to the Crimson for spotty news reporting and incorrect Staff-editorials, but this is developing into zealous vitriol.

Full disclosure: I am running field work for the Haddock/Riley campaign (thanks for the shout out earlier, Golis, in the post about staff ;) I am a UC representative on SAC, and I am comping the Crimson ed board. I'll refrain from discussing the actual merits and demerits of the Haddock/Riley proposal (as you have as well, though you've repeatedly blasted it), and instead will focus on it in terms of its relationship to the Crimson staff ed.

First, Piotr is right, there are significant differences between Haddock's platform and the Crimson Staff Ed's, at the very least, neither are in the completely fleshed out form that they would be if they were legislatively proposed to the UC. For that reason alone, endorsing Haddock is not the same as repeating the staff Ed on social programming.

Second, although social programming is the central issue of this campaign, it isn't the only one. Questions of Curricular Review and Allston have remained unasked, but issues of free printing for all or handicapped access have arisen. The Crimson may not determine their endorsement entirely on those side issues, but it will at least consider them. Those side issues may be the determing factor that puts one ticket over the top in the Crimson.

Third, and to state the obvious that seems overlooked, the staff ed supported an idea while an endorsement would support the implementers of ideas. If the Crimson likes the Haddock/Riley platform, but doesn't think they could possibly get it done, then I doubt they would endorse. Similarly, if the disagree with some of the platform, but think that Haddock/Riley would be the best leaders and implement mostly good ideas, then they would probably endorse them.

Fourthly, in your previous post about UC races, you noted that the UC/Crimson subcultures are the only ones that pay attention to the UC all year round. Based solely on the expertise that your prescribe them, their endorsement should matter to the campus if only because they are more knowledgeable of the issues and the council. To say that it shouldn't would be the same as discounting every UC rep that supports one candidate or another from their experience.

Finally, even if the endorsement of Haddock/Riley specifically cited their own previous staff ed, then it would still be important for the campus to know. Then, they could choose to vote for or against the Haddock/Riley campaign based on the previous staff ed ideas. It wouldn't be correct for them to equate the two, but if the Crimson did that, then it would be useful for both supporters and opponents of their staff ed.

Andrew, you're usually correct in your criticisms of the Crimson. And, I can recognize the use of some excess of criticism by you, if only to motivate people in an atmosphere without a real check on the Crimson's media monopoly. But, it's important to rest your assertions on reasons and fact.

Ryan Petersen

PS apologies for lapses in grammar, syntax, and spelling. This is a break from a social studies paper.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, the Crimson and the UC, especially Matt Glazer, recognize that no platform has a fully fleshed out model of social programming, and even if it did, the UC as a whole would have to vote on it. So, whatever proposal they offer will be subject to the amendments and approval of the entire undergraduate council. It's likely that simply due to the campaign process, all the plans will be under discussion at UC, and since a President doesn't have any special enumerated powers of legislating, the Crimson could very well endorse a candidate for reasons other than their social programming platform under the reasoning that: The UC will take all platforms into consideration regardless of the President and we know that in all areas the best ticket is ____. Therefore, we support ______ as the most qualified and able Presidential ticket.


At 5:48 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...


While I really appreciate the post, and especially appreciate the final thought, I think you're missing the point of my post (which was not intended to be anti-Crimson, but simply pro-understanding). Even one of the incoming leaders of the Crimson said to me something to the extent of "he's basically taken the entire Crimson staff positions as his platform, so I don't see how we can not endorse him." This is not simply my thought, but a thought shared by many throughout this little community.

I'm very much glad that people at the Crimson and people on the Council (as noted in your last post) recognize that Haddock's position is not fully thought out, and I hope that as a result they consider his rhetoric and the possibility of his victory accordingly. His plan is ill-concieved and inadequate (see Glazer's letter above), and simply doesn't respond to the reality of the political situation.


At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Piotr Brzezinski said...


You've taken a single quote that supports the idea that Haddock and the Crimson have SOME similar ends (i.e. increasing funding to HoCos) and used it to imply a conspiracy between the two. I don't know if it was your intent or not, but I certainly read this post as a pre-emptive attack on the legitimacy of the Crimson's endorsement. It fails to do justice to the complexity of either parties' position on social planning - the conflation does not take note of the different means of achieving the same ends - and to the complexity of the endorsement decision itself. As Ryan noted, there are many different reasons for endorsing a given candidate, and, although you disagree, many people believe that this election is more than a social planning debate.


At 7:46 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

Fair enough Piotr, fair enough. My guesses were, it appears, way off the mark!

At 7:54 PM, Blogger andrew stillman said...

also, isn't there a chance that similarities between any candidate's platform and the crimson's platform are due not to any sort of conspiracy, but rather simply because both groups considered all the options for how to fix social programming and came up with similar solutions? perhaps this is a sign less that haddock/riley are pandering to the crimson, and more that they have found an ideal (or at least popular) solution to this pressing problem.

just a thought....

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

Golis, fundamentally I have to disagree with you that The Crimson's endorsement of a ticket is not important. They are, probably, the best-known student organization on or off-campus. If for nothing else, then some people who could care less about the entire UC election may just open up their Crimson this week and vote according to whichever ticket The Crimson endorses. Despite whether you, myself, or like-minded people care (I don't care who The Crimson endorses), some people on campus WILL vote for a particular ticket based solely on The Crimson's endorsement of that ticket due to its venerable position on campus and its near-monopoly on campus-wide discourse (until we popped up--more undergrads on campus visit our site daily than read most student publications on campus).

At 9:11 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

To be clear, I was saying that people SHOULDN'T care, not that they wouldn't. This was based on the assumption that the Crimson would endorse based on Haddock's position on social programming, which was apparently very wrong... Or at least the Crimson's position isn't as close to Haddock's as many had assumed...

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You misrepresented my last comment. And, you've converted a discussion that was originally focused on the importance of the Crimson's endorsement, to the merits of Haddock's plan. It's not that Haddock's plan isn't fully thought out, it's the fact that every ticket has not written legislation. The fact of the matter is that the Haddock plan is thought out! However, it's not in legislation form, and that's significant. Not only will writing it in legislation iron out all elements (putting the abstraction that is the Voith/Gadgil plan into legislation would *hopefully* iron out its elements).

But, even if you don't think that it is thought out, the Hadddock plan will have to be approved by the UC. That could very well change the legislation (in signifant ways, as the UC changed the SEC plan). That oversight by the UC is important to note, as it could shape all social programming proposals (and it will).

So, the Crimson endorsement has to account for more than the candidates social programming plan, because the UC could change it. Certainly, the candidates will provide vision for the plan, but the UC will provide REvision.

The Crimson ought to take that into account, and choose a ticket that will be the best campus leaders for the Undergraduate Council. If you don't agree with that, Andrew, then you should have supported a social programming referendum.



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