In a finals week filled with some of the strangest and most unexpected twists and turns, I have missed finals, filed for and now withdrawn from two political campaigns, and plunged into the depths of internal crisis. Having been unhappy with the Board of Education at my school, and having written a letter, organizing a rally, having an article in the school paper written about it, and still feeling unheard, I got this crazy hair on Monday (the Monday of finals week no less!) to join fellow student Jenni Simonis to run myself with the idea that if the board won’t listen to the students, the students should join the board.
Meanwhile as I was working on a research paper for my writing class on, of all things, democracy, I was also participating in the process. I collected signatures around campus and the community to get my name on the ballot so I could help make a positive impact on my school and on Thursday morning I filed as a candidate before driving back out to school to finish up a take-home math test before going into my math final (which incidentally was scheduled for Tuesday and not Thursday contrary to what I had on my calendar, but that’s a whole different story).
When I got home, I looked up the list of candidates running and noticed that the incumbent I wanted ousted had already decided not to seek reelection, and more than this, one of the candidates running seemed to me to be hands down a far better candidate than myself (and I hope I don’t end up eating my words on that). The step from here seemed simple: I should withdraw from the race; so I did. But I also had been informed as I was making this decision that there was an individual on my local school district’s board who was running unopposed and who I had recalled having been appointed and never elected to begin with, and then his profession is a banker on top of that.
My love of democracy was offended by the prospect of not at least giving the citizens a choice to choose between two people, and with very little time before the filing deadline, I decided to run for that race instead. This seemed to me at the time to be something I had no choice in, but it was honestly not something I really wanted. This caused me immense stress: on the one hand I really have no political aspirations, I just want to go to school and learn and become a teacher so I can continue the cycle by teaching students all the great stuff I learned as a student; on the other hand I have an immense love of my community and a strong belief that good people with good intentions and a strong moral fiber are needed in our democratic process and the belief that, if the community chose me to represent them on the school board, my decisions would be focused on what would be the best for the students, the faculty, and the community; so I felt I had to run.
Friday, while other students where relaxing on spring break, I spent the day building a campaign website, setting up endorsement meetings, speaking to the chair of the school board, and other campaign tasks while battling with what I had gotten myself into. Here I was — a poor student with no desire to be involved in politics if I can help it, with nothing but a love for education and a ideal of a better community — realizing how far over my head things had become. And the meetings would be two Wednesdays a month, something that would require me to fail to meet other commitments I have on Wednesday nights.
I was torturing myself about what I should do, because I did not want to be where I had found myself, but didn’t want to let the community down. Perhaps this seems overly idealistic to some, or maybe like I’m giving myself too much importance to others, but I again had to let my community down. My love in life is school and this term I spent far too much time getting caught up in far too much external stuff and I felt the term was not as great as it could have been as a result. My time needs to be devoted to my studies, and a position on the school board would mean at times either my studies or the school board would have to take a back seat; the commitment to the community would have to come first, so my studies would have to come second. I cannot let this happen. So Saturday afternoon I ultimately decided to withdraw from the race. As a good friend of mine told me, “well you don’t have to save the world that way you know.”