Don’t you just love the smell of politics in the morning?

Neither do I.

With the Guild elections going on and my involvement on a number of campaigns, I thought it best to distance myself from the politics happening on my residence hall.

Others had alternative plans.

As I sat, arguably, in the wrong place at the wrong time, several different persons governed by several different motives approached me regarding several different positions on the Hall Committee. To cut a long story short, I trusted maybe two out of the many and doubted the motives of all. But as the argument was laid before me, my Hall needed me and I embarked on an ambitious, albeit doomed election campaign for myself.

Sticky notes and propaganda everywhere.

I gave it everything I had, and here is what I learned from the experience.

How to Lose an Election on a Residence Hall

  1. Run on a platform of inclusiveness and equality. Where a status quo is well-respected, true believers and newcomers alike like to see it upheld, regardless of ideals of fairness, justice and representation.
  2. Run an entirely clean campaign. Never plant questions in forums, never conspire with candidates running for other positions and never take shots at your opponent.
  3. Tell the truth. At all times, always give those listening to you all the facts of the matter at hand. Do not tell them what they want to hear and do not lie in order to gain popularity points.
  4. Spend time speaking with the members of the electorate, particularly those with concerns regarding the actual issues on the platform upon which you base yourself. Answer questions thoughtfully and take notes to remind yourself of the ideas, suggestions and concerns brought forward to you over the grueling course of the election period.
  5. Always maintain a standard of class, professionalism and preparedness. Never make yourself into an entertainer in order to gain favour with your electorate. You are in the running for an elected position, you are not a clown.
  6. Never suppress criticisms or even the voicing of questionable actions of your opponent – it will be viewed as politicking and drag your stance of professionalism downward.
  7. Never remain committed and steadfast in your belief in the principles you started on – bend in order to win the election.
  8. Never use glitter on your campaign material. 

image source: Joy Christi at Comfy Town Chronicles.

Okay, now that we have those sour grapes out of the way, I’d like to say that the intimidation and desperation tactics brought out during this election has exposed me to a truly discouraging side of residence life that I wish I could report didn’t exist. Optimism, however, eventually runs out when in the presence of several scores of 20-somethings, all with dominance to establish and something to prove.

Repeated assertions that these elections must be staged, slates being worked on tirelessly by persons not even contesting a position and hushed late-night summons to private chambers protected by “the code” all came out during this high-tension period where secrets were revealed, friendships were betrayed, loyalties were endlessly needled to breaking point and the calm after the storm was truly something to behold. An eerie stillness in time where it felt that the building itself was waiting for an exhale, to get the previous rhythm back in order. Or a scream.

Tears, strained silences, clipped greetings and smiles that never quite reach the eyes are quickly becoming the norm on my residence hall. And I want the old rhythm back.