When I got to Abilene Christian University I knew about 5 people. I felt like a little fish in a big pond. I looked around and I saw others who were part of a large church group, a parochial high school or people who had siblings who already went there. I’m not sure why this bothered me or why I wanted to be well known on campus, but I did. I ran for freshman class president and didn’t win that. I ran for Representative for my Dorm and got that. I think it was the first year or so that they had dorm reps.
For some reason our dorm didn’t have soap dispensers in the bathrooms. I mean, that’s objectively gross. Sure, you could bring your soap from whenever you showered to the bathroom, but who would even? The president asked me to accompany the two dorm reps from the women’s dorm that I went to all the time to a meeting with the sanitation services manager. I showed up late and really just sat there while these two amazing women worked out a deal with the manager to get soap dispensers in all the dorms that didn’t have them already and to check them regularly. We went back and reported to the President of the student body and he asked us to give a report at the meeting the next day.
Since I didn’t do anything during the meeting, I made a powerpoint. I had taken Business Computer Information Systems in high school so I knew how to do it. The high point of the powerpoint that I had made was that I had a car go across the screen as if it was driving. Everyone ate it up.
Looking back on it, taking that presentation and making it all fancy was the highlight of my freshman government experience. Which is lame because what I did was waaaaayyyyy off topic and not even wanted or needed. After I got done galavanting around, one of the women actually gave the report that was asked for. But everyone thought I was hot stuff for my lame powerpoint. I got asked to do other powerpoints and go to other things, like when a group of faculty people were deciding on whether or not we should get Good Friday off; again, I didn’t do a dadgum thing in that meeting but make a crappy powerpoint.
My freshman year I basically did everything that was available to do on campus except chess club, because it was too complicated. I’m sorry, but whatever move the knight makes is really stupid and silly. No time for it. When elections came around I ran for sophomore class office and won.
My sophomore year this administrator person came to one of our student congress meetings to talk about a thing called “Block Tuition” which basically means you pay a set amount for your school as a full time student when you take anywhere between and including 12-18 hours. So if you took 16 or more hours then you would get more value but if you took 12 hours you would get less value. During the next meeting we were supposed to talk about it and make a decision about what we wanted to do, if anything. One of my friends on the congress got me turnt up to make a response and I did by calling the notion of block tuition “Ethnic Cleansing” which defacto made me liken the Administrator Person to a Yugoslavian war criminal (later on I met him and it was really awkward). Honestly, I’ve made better decisions. We passed a resolution saying that we didn’t like block tuition and that we were against it. The Faculty and administrators decided not to go through with it for a while and we felt victorious. That year I was voted co-congress member of the year even though I didn’t really do anything AND I wasn’t even there to get my award because I was coaching a GATA softball game.
My Junior Year was when 9/11 happened. Someone brought up whether we should give money to the American Red Cross and their relief efforts. We debated the issue for about and hour and then someone suggested that we ask our constituents. So the next week I got a big sign made of butcher paper and asked people to say “yes” or “no” about whether they wanted us to send the money from the Student Congress Operating Budget (that the students submit money to) to the red cross. People thought that this idea was impressive and revolutionary, as if I had really done something.
I spent all that time wondering what student body office I was going to run for. I knew what I wanted; I wanted to be student body vice president. It was going to be awesome. I got advice, asked people about what to do and gave it a lot of thought. I met with a person who I trusted and she said that I should not run for this, indicating that it wasn’t me. My special talent and thing that I could do was get people excited and this was not a job where I could rally interest and get people excited. I thanked her for her advice and went on to run. I ran unopposed, getting 450 signatures from students (the amount required to run for student body office) in 29 hours and then running unopposed for the office itself.
Looking back on it, she was right. I should not have run for that office. This is my Malcolm Gladwell Revisionist History moment.
On the one hand, I really enjoyed my position. I enjoyed being the person that people looked up to on campus, I enjoyed working with the Student Body president to set the tone and bring forth a new idea of what student government should be, and I really enjoyed smelling the hair of all the women on campus that were involved in the student government. I’m not really sure why this was a thing, but It was a thing that I did. Often. I don’t even know how to explain it to you.
On the other hand, I was really confused about I should do in my role there. The Vice president had a traditional role of being in charge of all the committees and steering them on the right path. I had no committee experience and really didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t able to help them much. One of the committees that we oversaw was the Campus Entertainment committee whose jobs were, among other things, planning a large concert for the whole campus. I was really unable to help the head of that committee in getting a concert of any real kind on campus. I also oversaw the elections and allowed a rather large scandal to brew with regards to how the candidates treated each other and talked to each other during the race and the runoff.
When you’re at the top, everyone is looking at you expecting you to have a clue of what to do and what to tell them about what to do. You can’t just stay in the shadows, mind your business and work. In many ways I feel like that is the better position for me. I had a good time there but the truth was that it wasn’t what I thought it would be and if I had it to do all over again I would have ran for something else.
I finally came out and told the whole student congress that the idea for the soap dispensers belonged to the two awesome women that I knew an that I just went along. It was at a time when I had already got all of the credit and awards that I was going to get. But I wanted to do right by them as best as I could.