April 20, 2011

The Making of a Shadow President

In recent posts, this space endorsed Will Hix '12 in his race for Student Assembly president. In addition to his bona fides as a campus leader and considerable gravitas, we believed that Mr. Hix's candidacy constituted a valuable cause for the student body. An egregious decision by the S.A. election board ruled that any student who had run afoul of Parkhurst was barred from holding office. Mr. Hix, who was once arrested for consuming alcohol underage, was thus ruled ineligible.

Mr. Hix launched a write-in campaign and performed quite well, securing 37 percent of total votes cast, compared with 39 percent for Max Yoeli and 24 percent for Aaron Limonthas. Given his contentious battle with the election board, this is an impressive feat.

In a sense, however, we at LGB understood our endorsement to be in vain. Even had Mr. Hix won in vote totals, he would not have been permitted to take office. So why endorse Mr. Hix at all?

A Likely Counterfactual

First, it is likely that Mr. Hix would have won this race had the election board not barred him from the ballot. The margin separating him from the winner, Mr. Yoeli, was quite thin (48 votes). As a general rule, write-in campaigns are particularly difficult since, among other things, casting a write-in ballot is more arduous than simply selecting a name already displayed. Write-in ballots are also more likely to be incorrectly apportioned due to spelling mistakes or voter misunderstanding.

Beyond that, students were warned that Mr. Hix could not win, even if he secured 100 percent of student votes. Harry Enten '11, the chairman of the election board, made sure to advise students that, while they could vote for Mr. Hix, his votes would not be officially recognized.

Even under the best circumstances, write-in campaigns are difficult. Add in the fact that the write-in candidate would not be allowed to assume office and they become downright impossible. The fact that Mr. Hix came within 48 votes of beating Mr. Yoeli strongly suggests (though this is admittedly probabilistic) that Mr. Hix could have -- indeed, should have -- won.

Shadow Leadership

Even knowing that Mr. Hix could not win, we at LGB endorsed him. Mr. Hix clearly has a connection with Dartmouth students, and we believe that he should capitalize on that over the next year.

Students need a powerful voice to express their views to the administration. Rising tuition, skyrocketing fees (many of which are underreported), and several unpopular and unwise moves by President Kim yearn to be refuted. Mr. Hix's strong performance in the recent election, and his consistently sapient positions, show that he can -- and should -- accept that mantle.

Mr. Yoeli will ascend to the throne of Student Assembly, where he can mingle with other officers deemed worthy of election by Mr. Enten's board. How he performs as an executive has yet to be seen. All the while, though, Mr. Hix can serve as a lightening rod on student issues. He can mobilize students, galvanize alumni, and rally the College into holding Mr. Kim and his administration to account. In short, Mr. Hix could become the shadow president the student body needs.

How Mr. Hix chooses to do this is a decision entirely his own. We at LGB only hope that he steps up to the plate and campaigns as hard over the next year as he did for his own election.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:16 PM

    Will Hix for shadow Prime Minister! (or more likely...) Will Hix for LGB commentater!