When ‘standing for something’ meant something

    Every year this column mocks the annual “Rite of Spring” here at UCSD: An orgy of recriminations, petty complaints, and enough incest, nepotism and cronyism to make a typical third-world republic look like Switzerland. Once again, A.S. elections have concluded and those few students who actually bother to follow them are most likely elated, because their cronyism has triumphed once again. Once again, a marginal portion of the student populace has voted in an entire (well, almost entire) slate of “leaders” whose major qualification seems to be a willingness to fund their native clubs with everyone else’s money. As this writer’s roommate put it, “I got an e-mail from the election commissioner of Warren or such-and-such that said ‘a vote for apathy is a vote for losers’ or something like that. Why can’t I vote to get this person not to send me e-mails?” The roommate in question responded by voting “abstain” to every position on the Earl Warren College ballot.

    This writer remembers a time when A.S. elections meant that every position was actually contested. This year’s election not only featured several uncontested positions, but a slogan by the prominent slate (the ironically titled “Student’s First” — which would more aptly be named “S.O.L.O. and Greek organizations off the ship first before women and children”) that was begging for mockery: “Stand for Something.” If the sheer inanity of that slogan was not enough, this writer had to see it under every fucking position on the ballot. It is as if they feel so secure in their prospects for election that they want to drive prospective voters to take a drill to their parietal lobes to get the bad slogan out.

    “Stand for Something?” Wow — let us make a principled stand about … something. Let us go lobby the administration about … something. Let us disguise the fact that our entire purpose in these positions is to advance the cause of our own select group at the monetary expense of all students, while telling them we are advancing their cause of … something. For an amateur political scientist, this entire situation is rather fascinating, as it is a microcosm of American domestic politics in its debate over inane issues that the politicians have no control over (parking, economic cycles, minority enrollment, etc.) at the expense of any exposure of the vast corruption of the system (Washington lobbyists, S.O.L.O. orgs, agriculture subsidies, A.S. External).

    The most galling example of this hypocrisy and cronyism is Students First! presidential candidate Harish Nandagopal’s insistence that the $175,000 A.S. budget shortfall next year from decreased enrollment be met by fee increases on students while arguing against fee increases on students by the state (which the A.S. Council has literally zero lobbying influence over — this is a question for the UC Board of Regents and the governor). Incidentally, despite Mr. Nandagopal’s defeat at the hands of Jenn Pae, let this be no endorsement of the new A.S. president, whose pandering to athletics is disgusting: She has openly discussed funneling A.S. funding — money contributed by all students — toward a budget shortfall in athletics. One would think athletics already has enough student money from the Division II fee referendum, but apparently even more general student money needs to be allocated to a select group of students (athletes) for whom the vast majority of this campus has no need nor cares. So instead of cronyism for S.O.L.O. orgs and Greeks, we get cronyism for athletics. So who is wondering why UCSD has a reputation for apathy?

    peaking of apathy, a few thousand prospective freshmen descend onto this campus on Saturday whilst a few undergraduates — and the whole of the admissions office at UCSD — try to convince them this school is a fun and exciting place to be. It’s too bad their parents will probably be with them, otherwise a free distribution of condoms and tequila might do the trick. Regardless of whether this place is actually the hotbed of apathy it is purported to be, it is in every UCSD student’s interest to attract the best and brightest of potential students to the school, because let’s face it: If someone from UCSD occupies the White House in forty years, that makes all our degrees all the shinier. So once you identify whether the prospective student in front of you is either a genius or a moron, some tips:

    1. If he or she is considering Berkeley, remember to mention how our fog is far less pervasive, our beaches actually can be used for swimming and surfing, and that our clock tower is actually a library as well. In addition, we do not have any scary bums — well, we have a few, but they don’t tend to rant at passing traffic. If, God forbid, they are actually concerned about academics, do not forget to mention how much you have enjoyed Humanities, MMW or D.O.C. , and reassure them, especially if they’re science or engineering, they’ll learn exactly the same things from professors who are just as renowned, because everyone uses the same overpriced textbook anyways. The only difference is that the curve might be a tad gentler. All right, let’s face it. A lot gentler.

    2. If the prospective in question is considering some fancy liberal arts school like Swarthmore, Williams or Pomona, mock them mercilessly for even considering to spend $40,000 a year to get an education that is the functional equivalent of a local library and a good graduate student grading one’s papers, both of which are present at UCSD. If the prospective wants a good chance to get into graduate school in the sciences or medical school, first-rank research is imperative, and that is something the research budgets of small liberal arts schools just cannot offer, even if they have much, much better parties and richer kids.

    3. If anyone asks about a football team, a party scene or a sex life, deny everything. If they ask about drugs, refer them to the nearest A.S.-funded media organization.

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