Arise, loons, and conquer

By now you’ve heard that the ASPSU elections are going to be slightly modified from their original format. From all involved we hear this is being done to ensure the elections are free and fair, and if they cause a bit of confusion or inconvenience, so be it. The objective is to get it right, and to be as mature and professional as possible in the process.

However, there seems to be a sort of random listlessness and lack of direction in an election which needs to be revamped mid-step. I was at a loss to explain this sensation until I had a chance to review some Vanguards from 1968 in the course of research about the development of a program here on campus which started up around that time. Along with the information for the project I found a series of articles and position statements from candidates for ASPSC (then we were a college, not a university) offices.

Most were clean-cut young men who still had the guts to wear crewcuts and ties, but a few were random folk culled from what was, in my recollection, the fringe of campus society.

One or two courted controversy by agitating for such niceties as a free university and students’ rights to hire and fire instructors. One candidate for president apparently preferred being photographed wild-eyed and smoking. Ah, such rebellion, in such a rebellious time.

This caused me to reflect on the truly great elections I’ve witnessed, few of which occurred in the United States. For example, in England, where the whole mess of national elections begins and ends in a matter or weeks, there’s a time-honored tradition of loony candidates. As a general rule they appear to be mild-mannered at most times, but these folks advocate, for example, universal free toilets and the right to wear nothing but a diaper in public. They want everything legalized from prostitution to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Their whole point is to stand with the other candidates in a little huddled bunch when the results are announced and be interviewed by relentlessly uninteresting reporters in polyester suits.

The problem is, do we have enough loons at PSU to pull off this sort of inspired madness? Do we have the courage of our convictions to support candidates who know how to laugh, shake off the doldrums and still get on with business? Do we have the class and panache to field a couple of folks with a sense of the absurd? Sadly, I sense we do not. This has all become too deadly serious.

So after looking at what we once had at PSU in the way of candidate loons, and what we are not likely to have in the upcoming election, it behooves me to urge anyone who can shake things up through sheer lunacy to run for office.