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The Political Process by Karen F. '11

For the civic-minded

So, the past week and a half or so (“has it really been that long?” etc etc) I’ve gotten more exposure to politics than I ever had in my life.

This is the first year I’ve been old enough to actually vote, and though I realized there were other ways to get involved without actually voting, despite being aware of current events, I never participated for reasons that are probably irrelevant to this blog.

I. Change We Can Believe In

…Yeah. So, you probably recognize that slogan because it seems like everyone under 40 is crazy about it.

I’m not going to get into my personal politics here – if you really want to know, you can talk to me – but I will say that I believe politics are relevant, and in my mission to make informed decisions as often as possible, I decided to attend an Obama rally the night before the primaries. I’ve never attended a presidental anything before and it was definitely a cool experience, even though I had to miss a free, pre-screening of Be Kind Rewind AND a chance to hear the awesome director Michel Gondry speak (courtesy of LSC), and possibly even to drink cocoa with him.

This is the problem with MIT – I’m always deciding between a great thing and an awesome thing. Oh, woe is me.

Anyway, Obama wasn’t the only presidential candidate in Massachusetts that night. In fact, Clinton and McCain were both here, though as far as I know, Obama was the only one to have a public rally in Boston. I think I shall make a life’s goal in which I attend a rally for each presidential candidate in one season.

Unlike Lulu, Keri and Chris, I am not photography inclined, so you’ll have to imagine what it looked like from my mediocre pictures.

This girl was there the whole time, and all of my pictures have her in it. Grr.

This is John Kerry! Obama was late, so we got to hear him and Ted Kennedy speak to make up for it or something – Caroline Kennedy was there as well! Oh man – the people went crazy for them. I think the only state that probably loves any of its senators more than Massachusetts loves Ted Kennedy is Illinois (loving Barack Obama).

II. Les Politiques Français

Since I know all of you read about French politics on a regular basis, you’ll be pretty excited to hear that Ségolène Royal came to speak at MIT! I mean, maybe I’m biased, but I think she’s pretty dang awesome.

She gave a speech in pretty bad English (I don’t know why. Everyone there was speaking French) about higher education in France compared to the USA, then there was a Q-and-A session. She mentioned that what surprised her most about MIT was the diversity, and how she really liked it.

Well, can’t argue with that ;)

[Part of being photography-challenged is always forgetting my camera, so I didn’t get any pictures. She pretty much looked the same as she does in all her pictures though.

III. Local Power

You may or may not know, but right now MIT is in the midst of elections as well. Senior Haus had its elections last night in the Housemaster Suite, which I had never actually been in, so it was pretty cool.

Keri ran for president basically unopposed, except for The Perfect Algorithm or something – the premise was that people make mistakes, and Perfect Algorithms do not, and clearly power belongs in the hands of perfection.

The other chairs you can hold in Senior House are treasurer, soccomm (social committe) and Judiciary Committee. MIT dorms are required to have JudComms – the premise behind them, according to the girl running the elections, is that we’re not grown up enough to solve our own problems between ourselves, so JudComm is there to make impartial decisions.

I think a cat got elected. Maybe a couple people, too, though I doubt anyone will ever know who they are.

There was only one actual contested race and it was – well – I suppose you’ll have to visit Senior House to find out ;)

And finally, I decided to be Senior House’s CPW chair for this year. Which means – yeah – *I* decide what you guys are going to be doing this April. I feel powerful. Muahaha. Any requests? I may or may not take them into consideration, depending on how interesting they are…

Keri did this last year. How sweet, it’s like a blogger tradition now or something.

IV. Elections and Ethics

Both Student Pugwash (a fairly young organization that works for ethics in science, technology and academics) and MIT Amnesty International held elections in the past week or so, and I was there for both. I know, I know! I told you I had been political lately. I’m not actually a part of Pugwash, but I went to support my friend Sam. Since they don’t actually have a significant number of members, the polls were completely open. I think Pugwash could be a pretty significant force on campus if time is put into it, so I hope you guys take it into consideration if you come here :)

As for Amnesty, well, in our most stereotypical humanitarian habits, we all kind of felt too bad to have real elections because they seemed so cut-throat and none of us wanted to intimidate anyone else with titles. So we now have co-presidents, co-treasurers, etc. Aren’t we nice? :)

For those of you that found this entry as exciting as I find real Mexican food delicious, you can poke around the Political Science website. I find that people are sometimes a bit uncomfortable when they hear that someone else is majoring in – gasp – a humanity!

But hey. Everything is important and everything is relevant. Don’t knock it until you try it.

15 responses to “The Political Process”

  1. Quasars says:

    First!
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  2. Quasars says:

    (Sorry again for asking this here)
    On Feb 12 I faxed [617-258-8304] my Financial Aid materials because I had posted it earlier and they had not showed up on the tracker (yet). And I’ve posted them again, for a second time, yesterday. The Financial Aid wizards won’t have it before Feb 15 though. Is that ok?
    PS: I’m an International Student

  3. Natalie says:

    Hi Karen,
    Did you vote in the primary? How do you vote if you’re out of state for college? Just curious.

  4. Pawel says:

    I’m an international student, too. I faxed my Financial Aid Application 3 weeks ago and there is still written that my materials have not been received. I suppose they need some time to process thousands of applications and we should just be patient. I am right, aren’t I?

  5. Keri says:

    Natalie – You can either vote in the state where you attend college or fill out an absentee ballot for your home state.

    Karen – While I am totally for JudComm being run by the perfect algorithm cbis.judge( ), having the entirety of HausComm led by cbis.govern( ) seemed like the easiest way to give everyone else on it inferiority complexes. Who wants that?!

  6. Lauren '12 says:

    Haha! I went to the Segolene Royal talk too, and brought two friends + my French teacher + another French teacher *yup, I’m such a French nerd grin*. Yeah, the parts that were in French were better than the English speech. It was really cool to see her talk though! I love MIT. Coincidentally, my French teacher was telling me about the Obama rally while we were at the Segolene Royal talk… I think she went to the same one you did! Pretty random I know. Cool entry though.

  7. I went to an Obama rally in Virginia Beach, VA last Sunday. If I actually get around to making my blog this weekend (which I hopefully will.. I hope to have some portfolio to apply for MIT-blogger-ship), I will post an entry about it with some slightly better pictures (slightly being the keyword). Feel free to check those out if they go up .. (maybe posting this will actually make me bother to get it up… Yes I Can … maybe)

    Anyway, peace all,
    ~Donald

  8. Anion says:

    @Quasars
    man..u sure have not got ur priorities right while posting comments..lol!
    anyway..if u fax ur stuff..mit gets the stuff just then..so dunno y u r saying it’ll reach on the 15th..
    i’d recommend sending an email coz they reply really fast and things get sorted quickly..

  9. DHowdy says:

    @Anion
    Much irony in your last post? :-p

    Of course that makes me just as bad now!!
    Umm…quick think…ray rah election! There now I’m on topic.

  10. Hank R. says:

    Vote for DOOMKitten for JuddComm.

    Really, I take all my problems to the cat.

    Ask me if I’m joking.

  11. Isshak says:

    Seriously ? Segolene Royal was at MIT ? Why ?

  12. US Presidential Elections are huge and Obama is leading Clinton and McCain’s miles ahead of Hukabee…. Anita knows it.

    Anita’s Profile:
    Relationship with me: My niece.
    Location:
    City: Calcutta
    Country: India
    Distance from The White House
    Land (Rather Land+Water) :Her Uncle has no info
    Aerial: 12,974 km / 8,061 miles
    Time difference (EST-IST):630 mins

    By the way,Anita’s age: 5 Years 3 Months 2 Days.

    Yes, trust me guys..Elections 08 impacts the world…and even Anita knows it. Here, everyone with a TV which has CNN was stuck to the TVs after
    Super Tuesday and Potomac Primaries. Talk about numbers even Rajesh, my neighbor who got an F in his last Math Class test knows by heart how many delegates each contestant has.

    Though India is also a federal democracy, there’s a huge difference in our form of democracy. I am fascinated by your form of government and I have decided what topic I would like to have an open MIT-Harvard session on “Democracy in its various forms”, though that’s after I have understood Principles of Automatic Control from Course 16.06..

    That’s all after the admissions committee has ‘elected’ me to MIT Class of ’12. For me as of now it is Samujjal for MIT and the Admissions committee for President ’08..lol..

  13. Joy says:

    Wow! Such an awesome blog entry!

    You are really efficient.

  14. Jarey says:

    Karen, what are your ideas for CPW activities?

  15. DHowdy says:

    I voted in my states primaries! And I’m still only 17 :-p

    It’s funny how excited the people working at the voting places get when they see a first time voter….they cheer you on the whole time…come on guys, I just filled in a bubble!