Every year, during the Associated Students election, the Daily Nexus runs endorsements that trash our beloved student politicians and their earnest campaigning. It’s become something of tradition at the Nexus, sort of like the annual Nexus attempt at world domination.
It would be easy for me to continue this tradition, but I have a confession to make to my readers. I was once a student politician too. I was once one of those annoying pamphleteers who would force all you hardworking, hungover folk to make that extra stop to the recycling bin in between classes. When I was a freshman, I campaigned for the Student Action Coalition and last year, I ran for office (and lost) with the Students’ Party. I guess you could say I’ve been on all the bases as far as student politics go, which, in real life, has been about as useful as a lobotomy.
They say after you’re in a shark attack, you have to get back into the water right away for fear that you’ll be afraid of the ocean for the rest of your life if you don’t. Being in student politics, I have found, is like being in a shark attack. Let’s just say that once I was out, the prospect of getting bitten by a great white was much more appealing than getting back into A.S. politicking.
I’m not going to endorse any candidate or party in this election. I will, however, use my experiences in student politics to write about one of the stupidest aspects of campuswide elections — that is, I’m going to write about the “Sign Wars.”
To the average Jeanne Q. Gaucho, it’s as if all of a sudden these signs just pop out of nowhere overnight, spouting slogans that are meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator of voters. These slogans go something like “Go Green on 4/20” which is a reference to National Pot Smoking Day — a.k.a. Hitler’s birthday — and a stunning appeal to the ever-influential stoner demographic. Another example would be “Taking Action, Attaining Access”, which sounds like a slogan at a hacker’s convention.
What people don’t know about is the intense confrontations that occur the night before, when our over-achieving student politicians stake out what are considered the best positions for signs on campus. I know how stupid this sounds, but it’s true. People stake out at popular positions like the Pardall bike tunnel for hours for a chance to put a sign in a place where people can read it first thing in the morning, out of one bloodshot eye.
Some groups even go so far as to have their own satellite groups put signs in the prime locations over these tunnels, so that when midnight (the hour at which instant official campaigning can begin) hits, they can quickly exchange one sign for another, and — aha! — the opposition is foiled. This is the college equivalent of 5-year-olds cheating at a game of Duck Duck Goose, only in this case everyone is a quack.
And then comes what is arguably the most important aspect of the Sign Wars: the tearing down of your opponent’s signs. I guess the logic here being is that , if the opposition has nine signs as opposed to your 11 signs, you’ll be at a natural advantage because we all know how students keep a running tally of signs in their heads.
Yet I will admit that these signs do raise awareness for the very important campus elections. They have been so successful at doing it that when voting tops 35 percent, everybody thinks it’s time to bust out the champagne. Instead of spending so much money on wasted cardboard paper and wooden planks, I propose all sides participate in one massive dodge ball competition. After all, the colored uniforms are all there, it would be 10 times more entertaining, -and think of all the trees we’d be saving from the wasted poster paper. I know if I were a tree and I found out I was to be used for student political purposes, I’d commit ritual suicide, if that were at all possible.
Neil Visalvanich is a Daily Nexus columnist.