Buddy the Elf Wins Cornell Student Assembly Election

A day in the life of student politics: Peter Scelfo (pictured right) handily won a seat as a freshman representative on Cornell’s Student Assembly this week, scoring 146 more votes than his nearest competitor. His performance is largely attributed to a strong campaign platform, namely: “Vote for me. I’m dressed like a Christmas Elf.”

Scelfo’s victory is also a win for any Cornell student desperately searching for some reason — any reason — to actually care about the S.A.; though a bitter defeat for those who would ask that student governance be taken seriously, for fuck’s sake. (That is, other members of the S.A.)

An editorial from today’s Cornell Sun.:

Scelfo’s campaign — and victory — continued a recent trend in campus elections away from the issues and toward theatrics. Flashy campaign videos, Facebook groups and, now, even costumes have become the featured aspects in successful student campaigns. Name recognition matters above all else. While this has generated more interest in student elections, it has also reduced their legitimacy.

The big mistake here — assuming they had much legitimacy to begin with — betrays the starry-eyed naivety of someone not very well acquainted with how these things go.

Note: This post originally stated that the aforementioned Cornell Sun editorial was a letter to the editor from freshman Ross Gitlin, who finished second to Scelfo in the election, and also earned a seat on the S.A. What looked very much like Gitlin’s sign off was actually just a disclosure, by way of the Sun’s staff, that his brother is Ben Gitlin, the paper’s editor-in-chief. A third brother, Adam Gitlin, is the S.A.’s executive vice president. The Gitlins, it turns out, are Cornell’s answer to the Emanuels.

Princeton Student Government Enforces Imaginary Rule With Iron Fist

Political controversy erupted at Princeton when someone forgot to turn in a form on time.

Incumbent Class of 2012 Social Chair Aparajita Das (pictured right) was disqualified from running this year because she submitted her candidate statement after the 5pm deadline. In addition, she failed to attend “candidate open houses” and “scheduled election manager office hours”.

The USG could deal with the missed meetings, but the late submission of a form offended their sense of bureaucratic integrity. While a late candidate statement used to just get one slapped with a 5-point penalty, it is now, under the regime of USG President Michael Yaroshevsky ’12, completely, totally, VERBOTEN.

We understand—rules are rules. And despite the multitude of cries to let Das run, they have to be adhered to. Reasonable—except for the fact that the new penalty came into effect last week and was not explicitly communicated to the candidates at all.

[Class of 2012 president Lindy] Li and several other class officers explained that they were disappointed in the conduct of the USG throughout the candidacy process.

“Not only were we not fully informed of this substantial election policy change, class government also had no say in the legislation process, since we are not voting members of the Senate,” Li said. “Indeed, [USG president Michael Yaroshefsky ’12] has always highlighted the sharp distinction between our two bodies. Technically speaking, class government and the USG are two separate entities. Why should we then have no say when it comes to shaping policies that affect us?”

One still has to wonder why Das turned the form in late in the first place (didn’t she have her old ones saved on her computer anyways?). The 5pm deadline was not new. Did she just not care about the rules?

A cursory glance at the comments on the Daily Princetonian article on the controversy makes it abundantly clear that few Princetonians do care — about this technicality, or about Yaroshevsky. In summation: The guy tells everyone to stop hurting his feelings and to take a chill pill, just as the mob rips him to pieces with well-constructed arguments and cheerleading for PJ Das.

Since there has been some friction between USG and the class governments in the past, to many this seems like just another move by Yaroshevsky to keep the class governments in control, before he tells the clones to attack the Jedi and establishes himself Emperor. At least Darth Tulio Alvarez Burgos ’12, now running uncontested for social chair, is on his side. Anyone setting a reality television show at Princeton might as well just focus on student government.

USG offered Das the chance to appeal if she obtained 3 signatures from USG Senators. She did, and the appeal will take place tonight. Said Yaroshevsky: “I am happy we will be hearing the appeal…It demonstrates that our elections process is working.” Buddy, I am pretty sure if you have a candidate disqualified due to communication problems and people widely making a fuss over it, something is not working.

We at IvyGate are more than a little miffed as we type up all of these student election stories. Can Ivy League students not hold elections smoothly? Cannot they not run their governments without creating petty squabbles? These people are future Congressmen and Senators, for God’s sake….

Oh…it all makes sense now.

Update: Das lost her appeal last night, and will be ineligible to run, according to the Daily Prince.

IvyGate Endorses Columbia Student Senate Candidates; Spectator Sucks at Journalism

Behold the hard-hitting, principled, serious newspeople of the Columbia Spectator, guided by the platonic ideals of independent journalism. Consummate professionals, they are. Just you try to dictate the terms of the newspaper’s coverage. You think that’ll work?

Actually, it probably will.

This week, the Columbia College Student Council Elections Board attempted to nix the Spectator’s endorsements for University Senate elections (for which voting is now underway). The board has strict policies proscribing any campaigning outside a certain window of time — from April 4 through 5 p.m. on April 10 — and the CCSC made very clear it intended to rigorously enforce those rules. Thus, the board demanded that any endorsement run by the Spec be published before the 5 p.m. deadline. Somehow, publishing anytime thereafter would amount to a violation of election rules on the part of the endorsed candidates (even though interviews were conducted during the campaigning period). The Spectator condemned the Elections Board’s attempted breach of its journalistic autonomy. And then, like the submissive children they apparently are, the Spec’s editors decided to accede to the CCSC’s demands.

As explained in an editorial:

For the University Senate elections, we endorse no one…A series of unfortunate events, due to policies imposed by the Columbia College Student Council Elections Board, made it impossible for Spectator to suggest candidates in the 2011-2012 election.

Seriously, Spec? The Columbia Student Council doesn’t have the authority to tell you to do jumping jacks, much less run (or not run) endorsements. So, why the hell did you give in? You at least had a good reason, right? Nope.

[The] Spectator’s independence could not shield the candidates themselves from potentially disastrous consequences, and that was a risk that we were not willing to take.

Know this: When confronted with absurd, empty threats, the Spectator’s editors will acquiesce, with little or no resistance. But they want you to know that they aren’t one bit happy about it!

We object on principle to the conception that Spectator—or any independent news outlet—should have to answer to a governing body. The Elections Board’s actions reflect a profound misunderstanding of the relationship between the press and political entities.

Surely the Elections Board is quaking in its boots. “Oh gosh! The Spec objects!”

Lucky for you, Columbia readers, IvyGate is perfectly comfortable taking the risk of issuing endorsements. That in mind, we’ve reviewed all the pertinent campaign literature, and will put our support behind two candidates: Chris Canales and Steven Castellano. We wholeheartedly encourage you to vote for Chris and Steve. Our rationale?

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Hark! Another Cornellian is Rapping! (OR: Why Student Governance is a Joke)

Oh, for fuck’s sake, people. Not this again.

Above you see the campaign video for Alex Bores, a Cornell sophomore running for student trustee this spring. On the one hand, we have to admit that Alex at least puts one fellow Cornellian  to shame. You may remember Natalie Raps — though hopefully you’ve already purged her from your memory — whose super-grating attempt at the same trick in February made us want to kick a puppy or something. This, at least, is better.

At the same time, though, we’re pretty exasperated by this whole trend — student candidates trying to Rebecca Black their way into office. There’s no even-remotely-legitimate reason for it. And what stings most is how effective the strategy is. NatRaps won her election last month by a wide margin. Same for the brutally unfunny Bowman-Hysen ticket in last year’s Undergraduate Council election at Harvard. (Fast-forward to 3:15 — they may not have been singing, but it was still criminally terrible.) Given such electoral coups, it behooves us to look at the underlying phenomena that enable these brazen “fuck yous” to the democratic process (after the jump!): Read the rest of this entry »

Princeton Declares War on Hummus, Campus Is like WTF

Leave it to the Ivy League to turn a chickpea spread into a point of political outrage. Princeton’s Undergraduate Student Government has decided that Sabra Hummus–you know, the stuff that can single-handedly turn your dorm-room grubfest into a classy cocktail party–should no longer be sold in university stores. Why? Because Sabra is apparently sending free hummus to Israeli military outfits that have been accused of human rights violations.

Let us quickly interject to say: oh, come on. It’s HUMMUS, people. You’re living on a college campus surrounded by NGO pamphlets and FreeRice.com, and this is the most egregious ethical evil you could find? If you’re really that bored, go picket American Apparel or something. Leave the late-night snacks alone.

At any rate, the Princeton Student Government should really know better than to mess with (a) students with strong opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and (b) vegans. If you stand still for long enough, both types will start eying you hungrily. Either that, or they’ll start a Facebook group to take you down, which is exactly what the creators of the “Save the Hummus!–Vote Against the Sabra Hummus Boycott” group have done. As of this morning, the group had over 1600 members.

IvyGate contacted the group founders for comment, and they put us off until tomorrow (expect an update then). But behold a slice of their Facebook page, which includes a long list of reasons why a Sabra boycott is totally effing stupid:

…we think it absurd to suggest that supporting a company that sends care packages to Israeli soldiers is indirect support for war crimes.

5. Context is critical here. This boycott unfairly targets Israel. We’re not seeing an attempt, for example, to boycott products which somehow support the Saudi government despite its truly widespread human rights abuses. And even were the student body to deem boycotts targeted at Israeli goods to be acceptable, where would this stop? Would we boycott Microsoft, Intel, Victoria’s Secret, and other mainstream companies based heavily in Israel? Surely the student body is not willing to take this misguided effort to its logical conclusion.

Ha, like Princeton could ever boycott Victoria’s Secret. Infallible logic right there.

Frankly, both of these groups could probably benefit from a few horse tranquilizers. But since the fat’s in the fire at this point, we’re more interested to see whether people start flinging carrots and pita at each other. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Update: We’ve added the link to the anti-hummus Facebook page, for all you folks who like to play fair. With any luck, there will soon be an anti-anti-hummus and a pro-anti-hummus page as well (nothing makes a shitshow like a few good Facebook factions).

Harvard Students Run for Undergraduate Council on Platform that “We Know Nothing About Undergraduate Council”

In under an hour, polls will close for the 2010 Harvard Undergraduate Council election. So, how has the polling season shaped up? There’s always a creeping suspicion that the students who run for these positions are deranged lunatics, so its interesting to see whether or not the freak flags begin to fly as early as the campaign. Which UC presidential candidate this year is a closet psycho?

Sadly, everybody seems mostly well adjusted. Hard to say much about Matthew Coe-Odess and Tengbo Li. (Seriously, like 15 minutes after reviewing their campaign materials, I barely remember their names.) And, front-runners Senan Ebrahim and Bonnie Cao are wholesome to the point where I want to kick a puppy just to restore balance. Thank goodness, then, for Collin Jones and Peter Davis.

Grating? A little bit. But it’s funny, too. Not ‘Ha Ha’ funny, but at least worth a chuckle. The guys run on the campaign pledge that they have absolutely no knowledge of the UC, and poke fun of the vague and fatuous platitudes so often expounded by candidates in these elections. Well played, we say.

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Dartmouth Student Politicians Send Embarrassing 3AM Emails, “I’m Telling!” Spree Ensues

Dartmouth Pres CandidatesDartmouth student body presidential candidate John Nolan ’10 got double busted for ass-kissing and bull-shitting on Friday. First Nolan criticized the current administration in last Wednesday’s presidential debate, then wrote a long SSS (sorry so sloppy letter) right after — only to have it printed in the D the very next day. Thank god for press-savvy 20-somethings and their impeccable knowledge of how and when to leak embarrassing information to the press. Especially after Nolan won’t shut up about not getting any press coverage.

In some wording that’s slightly above jungle gym talk, Nolan explained in an email to Bode and Assembly Vice President Nafeesa Remtilla ‘09:

“Yes, I could go about playing the likeable card, the approachable card, be a people pleaser, and smile and nod and maybe pull off some Sara [sic] Palin winks,” Nolan said in the e-mail. “But at the end of the day, if I do that, and I lose to [Vernon], I’m going to regret this experience.”

It gets better:

“When I tried to be politically correct, I didn’t get press coverage,” he wrote. “I need my name out there. I need the exposure. I need to make waves to win, and that’s all I’m doing.”

Everybody’s new best friend, Nolan goes onto point out how he didn’t really mean all those things he said, didn’t want to do anything “dirty,” and just wants to win win win. Way to break  rule number one of behind-closed-doors-dirty politics: Don’t talk about dirty politics.

Given the fact that Dartmouth students have recently had some problems with sending regretable emails, we’re starting to wonder if maybe Hanover shouldn’t have electricity. At least Nolan (probably) didn’t pull any race cards and will likely just lose and enjoy our awesome Google ranking for the rest of his political career.

Harvard’s U.C. Seeks New President—Entertainment Value Abounds

harvard-uc-electionThe Undergraduate Council for everyone’s favorite self-important student body is currently electing a new president. With polls closing in just 36 hours, Harvard students (apathetic and otherwise) will surely end up with either a prank or a prodigal in office.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter since the university administration will likely limit any big changes or new investments during the winners’ term.

The primary contenders in Cambridge’s latest slogan-fest include the Harvard Hooligan, that annoying kid from the YouTube videos in addition to  a few actual U.C. Reps.  While the more “serious” candidates deserve mention for the extent of their hypocrisy, the fake ones make for better blogging.  But seriously it’s like a postmodern circus of Situationist proportions out there.  The Hooligan (a.k.a. Michael Koenigs ’09) staged an assassination attempt during the bright-lights debate attended by approximately 9 people.  Hopefully, his freshman Alaskan-native running mate, Aneliese Parker ’12, will step into his place.  Meanwhile, VP candidate Alexandra Petri ’10 explained in an interview with On Harvard Time that her running mate was in fact the Invisible Man (à la Wells, not Ellison).  They seek to replace the U.C. with a Hapsburg prince.

Read about the follies of the more serious candidates after the jump.  Or vote now on the UC website!

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Attention, Princeton! Last Chance to Vote in Your Latest Hideously Corrupt, Collossally Embarrassing Student Election

Today marks the final general voting day for Princeton’s Undergraduate Student Government elections, where an alleged criminal runs unopposed for President, upholding Princeton’s proud tradition of choosing the most offensively unfit humans possible for USG office. Soon-to-be-President Conor Diemand-Yauman stands accused of serving alcohol to minors, which, in the closed circuit of college life, is actually a campaign boon. In fact, it’s his platform! The Prince explains,

As USG president his first priority will be to address the discrepancy between the two policies [statutory vs. university-wide drinking regulations] and general lack of clarity as to the consequences for students who decide to seek medical attention for friends in need. … “If the way the Borough reacted to my situation is their typical response for all students, there is a definite problem, and I want to discuss this problem with them along with Princeton administrators to prevent possible consequences,” he said.

On the VP front, a shitstorm of 1AM emails and public call-outs have so thoroughly mucked the results that a re-vote has already been scheduled for later this week. It all started when, in a 1AM email to the entire student body, outgoing president Josh “Not Blackface” Weinstein endorsed his frat brother, Mike Weinberg, for VP. [ Pictured above: The brothers AEPi ] In the email, Weinstein said Weinberg was Diemand-Yauman’s fav candidate, too. But then Die-Y sends an email saying he would never endorse Weinberg, which means Weinstein is a lying liar! So Weinstein sends another email apologizing, but Die-Y says it’s not good enough, and then stuff gets really confusing, because everyone has the same two or three names. (Did you know the current VP’s name is Mike W., too?)

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Now This Is a Student Politician We Can Get Behind

Good to know not every politically-minded youngster is afraid of negative press. Last Friday, George Krebs celebrated becoming president of the Columbia College Student Council with a champagne-soaked party. Bwog liveblogged the voting, results, and ensuing celebration in Krebs’ dorm, featuring music like “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” and “We Are the Champions”:

Krebs bounded down the Watt stairs and greeted us. “Thank you!” he yelled. He ran back up the stairs and slammed the door to his studio open. “WOOOOO!” he yelled. His party and their drunken cohorts yelled affirmatively, and responded with similar “WOOOOs.”

A random drunken cohort held up a pinata shaped like a donkey. Krebs grabbed a broom out of absolutely nowhere and pounded the pinata. More “WOOOOs.” Six Coors Lights fell out of the pinata and they were snatched up within seconds.

This is in keeping with Krebs’ campaign promises:

“Nothing’s off the record! Transparency!” They pointed at Bwog, who was timidly sitting on a couch. “TRANSPARENCY! WOOO,” they continued.

When our generation to grows up and enters actual politics, the entire newscycle will explode from overabundance of digital image and disclosure.