Happy Presidents Day everybody. I ran for President once. It was for President of my residence hall during my sophomore year at college. My motivation wasn’t really one of civic duty or anything like that. And it’s not like I really wanted to be President. I kind of just wanted to post flyers in the hallways.
A year earlier, I was living in one of the freshman dorms, Alumni Court North, which was actually a lot nicer than the sophomore dorms. I guess it made sense from an administrative point of view, like we don’t want to scare them out of the housing system just yet, let’s see if we can’t squeeze two years out of the students, give them the not-so-shitty dorms their first year and then the really shitty dorms in year two.
Almost immediately after orientation during year one, people started putting up flyers. Join the lacrosse club, or come to a social justice forum, or, if you have to puke in the stairway, try to clean it up, at least maybe post a warning flyer on the stairway entrance. It was ridiculous the amount of paper, it was like you couldn’t even see the wall behind the flyers.
So I started making my own, fake flyers. One of them advertised hopscotch intramurals, another told everybody about a staring contest club, with a picture of a big set of eyes, the text, “See you there!” superimposed along the bottom. I thought it was so funny, I remember laughing so hard at my handiwork that I worried I’d maybe reached the pinnacle of my comedic career.
Unfortunately, my flyers lacked the required “Approved for Posting” stamp that officially sanctioned eight by ten photocopies as fit to tape to the wall. While I got a huge kick out of my harmless pranks, my laughter was never sustained for more than half a day or so. I don’t know how my college experience ranked with everybody else’s, but the RAs in my dorm were pretty hardcore, strict enough to scan the walls, plucking down unlicensed pieces of paper with the zeal characteristic of a twenty year old student empowered by the university to be officially in charge of a bunch of eighteen and nineteen year old subordinates.
Eventually I gave up, and then it was sophomore year. I figured, if I ran for President of the dorm, they’d have to give me access to that stamp. I’d be able to post campaign signs, and whatever else I wanted up on the walls without having to worry about any of the RAs spoiling my fun.
And so yeah, I registered to run for President. I made a bunch of fake campaign flyers, pages of really small text, nonsense manifestos printed alongside scanned photos of my high school yearbook portrait. There were empty promises, contradictory messages, inside jokes that probably weren’t as funny as I care to remember.
But it wasn’t the same. That manic euphoria, the first taste of real independence that characterized the joy of freshman year, as a sophomore, it didn’t really exist. The going out partying, staying up the night before a test to try and cram a week’s worth of work into a four hour study session, and making up bullshit excuses to unconvinced professors in an attempt to extend already overextended deadlines, we were all going through the same motions, but the shine had lost a lot of its luster. When someone puked in the hallway the year before it was like, “Oh my God! Someone puked in the hall! That is so funny!” This year it was just like, “Goddamn it, someone puked in the hall again. This is disgusting.”
So yeah, I had my flyers on the wall and, OK, they were stamped as official. But it just wasn’t the same. Nobody was laughing, I don’t even think anybody ever even looked. Worse, I wound up running unopposed. What had started out as a big joke culminated in me winning a race. I was now officially a member of student government.
I had to go to these meetings once a week. I felt like I was doing everybody a disservice. It was everything I could do just to give my classes the bare minimum of attention they needed so I could get by with a GPA that wouldn’t arouse complaints from my parents. Extracurricular activities, well, if they did give out grades for clubs, which they didn’t, I would’ve received a D- for my role as President of Martyrs Hall. But it wouldn’t have even mattered, because if I weren’t President, nobody would have been President. And all we really did was host pizza parties once a month.
So yeah, being President isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. And so on this Presidents Day, I’d to like to take a moment, to reflect on my own Presidency, on all of the college sophomore dorm Presidencies out there. Yeah. Well, that’s it, this was the reflection. And now it’s over. Happy Presidents Day everybody.