Eric K. Wepsic '91-'92. "He said he would put in the extra work."
"We ended up electing the lamp instead," Wepsic recalls.
But last fall, Subramanian's political ambitions met with a little more success. And after besting three other Undergraduate Council veterans in a bid to become the council chair, Subramanian has dedicated himself to putting in the extra work, council members say.
"It's completely his life. It's probably wearing him down," says council Vice Chair Athan G. Tolis '91. "You really can't believe it. Up until the middle of first semester he hadn't bought his books."
"He has a vision for the council," Tolis says. "He's very romantic about the council. He always goes by the rules. He doesn't just want to do the job right, he does more. He wants to make the council more accepted, and expand it."
And although this fall's council can point to few tangible accomplishments, council members say that Subramanian's dedication has paid off. Rather than fulfilling his own political agenda--a frequent criticism of former council Chair Kenneth E. Lee '89--Subramanian has tried to make sure that the council runs smoothly and follows through on its policies.
According to Tolis and Lori L. Outzs '91, chair of the academics committee, Subramanian has made sure that each of the council's members has a key to its office in Canaday Hall. He has cleaned and organized the council's workplace, and set up office hours for each representative.
And if his achievements sound somewhat less than glamorous, council leaders point out that they are very much in line with what Subramanian promised last fall.
"He said that he wanted to be a very non-presidential chair," says Outzs. "He has good follow-through. He's also done a really good job behind the scenes."
Last year's council was heavily criticized for two controversial moves late in the spring: its vote to ask the University to allow the Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) back on campus--which prompted such a storm of outcry among student groups that the council repealed it a week later--and its decision to sponsor a concert by Suzanne Vega, which lost more than $20,000.
But Subramanian says that this year could represent a turning point for the council, as representatives move away from activist issues and focus more on providing student services.
"It's been a rebuilding semester," he says, citing the lack of veterans on this year's council. "The advantage of a rebuilding semester is that we were able to take a different step from where last year was going. When you address political issues you face the specter of irrelevancy."
Unlike Lee, who earned a reputation as an "activist" chair by voting openly on council business, Subramanian has restored the tradition of using his vote only in case of a tie.
"He's obviously different from Ken Lee," says council secretary Evan B. Rauch '92. "Ken was a political leader. He certainly was pushing a particular point of view, whereas Guhan isn't.
"He was very enthusiastic for getting the office set up and doing things the chair is supposed to do. It would be ridiculous to use the chair-person's remarks to push the salad bar," Rauch says.