DAVID A. ARONBERG '93 promised to be an Undergraduate Council "cheerleader." Steven N. Kalkanis '93 said he would be more of a "team leader." But both of them announced that improving the UC's abysmal image would be among their top priorities as UC chair. Kalkanis even wrote a very long, very serious, very tedious letter to The Crimson imploring us to cut out our "senseless bickering."
The cheerleader won the election. And he has an idea that he thinks will help improve the UC's campus reputation. (Funny, the team leader had the same idea.) He wants to create the position of--drum roll, please--UC public relations officer! Basically, this unfortunate soul will have to read every issue of the Salient, the Perspective, the Independent and The Crimson, then organize official council responses to any implications that the council is anything but a paragon of streamlined efficiency, financial acumen, selfless diligence and conscientious responsiveness to the popular will.
PR officers--handlers, spokespeople, flaks, whatever you want to call them--can be found at many real organizations. They handle reporters' calls when their bosses are either too busy, too embarrassed or too arrogant to do it themselves.
I hate to say it, especially now that the UC plans to appoint somebody to write me whiny, poorly spelled letters on official council stationery, but the UC is not a real organization. It is a bunch of college kids playing government games, just like The Crimson is a bunch of college kids playing journalism games. (Of course, we have a much cooler building.) Few UC members are characterized by an overwhelming desire to serve their classmates. They like to talk and play power games and, yes, stuff their resumes. So do we. So does everyone at Harvard. It's not that big a deal.
Actually, the UC is not the least popular organization on campus. According to a 1990 study, that honor goes to--you guessed it...The Crimson. (Probably because its writers overuse parentheses. And sentence fragments.) I haven't lost a lot of sleep over this study. The Crimson does some good things. We screw up a lot, too. The point is, as an institution, The Crimson does a heck of a lot more good for the people who work on it than it does for the people who read it.
The UC is the same way. It gets us hamburger options every now and then. It blows $25,000 on stupid concerts every now and then. But basically it's an excuse to give college students a taste of what politics is like. It's an extracurricular activity that should not be taken too seriously. Which brings me back to the flak, and the UC's Andre Agassiesque obsession with its image.
"What the hell would a public relations officer do?" council member Adam Taxin '93 asks. "Are the other officers so important they can't answer their own phones? This whole thing is indicative of how people take the UC too seriously."
Exactly. If the UC wants a PR officer for the sake of creating a position, that's fine. If the UC wants a PR officer for the sake of providing better spin control, that's pathetic. Student governments--like student newspapers--are supposed to be unpopular. If you can't take the abuse, quit.
The UC should stop worrying about its pitiful, unsalvagable image. To be honest, nobody really cares.
Variety Is the Spicy Corkscrew Fries of Life: I would gladly sacrifice my first-born child for Director of Harvard Dining Services Michael Berry, but is he responsible for the wacky proliferation of fried potatoes in the dining hall? I mean, you've got six kinds of fries--waffle, steak, shoestring, cottage, home and spicy corkscrew. Then you've got potato coins and tater tots. Brunchskins and Skincredibles probably count, too.
Just a thought.
Dolt of the Week: Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.)--no relation to Homer, as far as I know--for his sterling performance on Nightline.
Simpson--whose uncanny resemblance to Ebenezer Scrooge is assuredly entirely coincidental--ripped into the Democrats on two counts:
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