Ernest Owens | Freshman candidates, save your sanity
The Ernest Opinion | A message from someone who almost lost his mind last year
September 23, 2011, 12:29 am · Updated September 26, 2011, 1:23 pm·
The Ernest Opinion
Today, the Nominations and Elections Committee kicks off another year of debauchery and massive paper waste. Flyers and posters can be seen all across campus as monetary student spending and freshman endorsements (new this year) are now in full effect.
“Freshman elections are generally very exciting,” NEC Chairman and College senior Shomik Sarkar said. “[The candidates] want to establish themselves and get their names out.”
However, I cannot help but reminisce of my own personal experience doing so last year. I’m known for the very notorious and media-obsessed NEC hearing that made me a campus-wide name overnight. Although much was out of my hands, including the laptop that I was falsely accused of “improperly tampering” votes on, something still remains: the learning experience.
I have come a long way since the Under the Button posts to realize why these elections get so much attention every year. Yes, I craved the title, mesmerized by the imaginary ability to enact immediate campus change. I was so crazed about it that I went out of my way to get votes and — along the way — made a few notable “Penn” rivals in controversy. So now, fully recovered, I advise all future Penn leaders to not lose their minds this upcoming election.
Don’t think I’m not aware of your dedication. You most likely were the class president of your high school. Now, you are on a mission to collect signatures and make promises that you (hopefully) intend to keep. But there is one thing you forget — almost everyone else running meets the same profile.
And this is where the drama begins. All of you will make Facebook groups and pages and events and all these other “essential” resources to get you the most votes. I did all of this — which just may have been the very problem. It became my obsession.
Penn Student Government elections are very competitive, especially freshman year, because everyone and their friends run because they are convinced they are the best. One Quaker that feels such a notion is College freshman Gabriel Delaney, who is running for numerous positions in this upcoming election.
“I would propose a free weekend trip to New York,” the former high-school class president said. Campaigning “gives me life and purpose.” There is nothing wrong with this, but the sad thing is that this New York trip will probably not happen.
So here I stand, as a re-elected representative of the Undergraduate Assembly, who will soon sit down with those who will reign supreme from this rat race of backstabbing and pseudo-politics. I now come with my honest advice that every non-freshman knows dear to their hearts as truth.
First, election season is still very much a popularity contest — the more people know your name, the more they will think of you when casting their ballots. But be careful — you do not want to be the annoying person who sends spam email.
Second, these elections are not really as important as one hopes them to be. In all honesty, only a little over 50 percent of the freshman class votes, and this percentage has been constant for many years. At the end of the day, as much as we want our peers to care as much as we do, they really are not as hyped for it.
Third, your entrance in PSG will not be an immediate transformation of policy but an introductory transition of previous legislation and many adjustments. It personally took me my entire freshman term to finally get the swing of things.
Fourth, there is always an election season at Penn. As much as you want to get elected this fall, soon it will be spring and back to the main stage of campaigning you go!
Overall, I want all Penn freshmen to know that there will be life after these two weeks of intense politicking and charisma. Allow yourself to realize that at the end of the day we have all come to this great college for a credible degree and positive, life-changing experiences.
Yes, we all have our passions and drives but hopefully this year we could change for the better. Otherwise, get ready for the next Jake Shuster or Ernest Owens.
Ernest Owens is a College sophomore from Chicago, Ill. His email address is email@example.com. The Ernest Opinion appears every Friday.