My name is Charles C. Johnson and I’m running for ASCMC President.
In Roman times, candidates were expected to appear wearing white togas, indicating their purity. It may well be true then that no one is without blemishes at a school this small and I’m certainly not without my faults.
But I care deeply about this school and I think I have some good ideas to improve. I hope you won’t let our past differences get in the way of the honest dialogue we deserve about our school. Student government ought to be about more than who you know, who your friends are, how much money you can raise for some pet cause or how big of a party you give days before an election. (That $25,000+ allocated for the exclusive Wedding Party doesn’t include the $249.00 for the balloon person or the $595.54 for the generator – to say nothing of the VIP tables we all have to pay for.)
It ought to be about ideas.
So here are mine:
- Elections for the Qualified, Not Appointments of Friends: There are many smart students here who have become disillusioned by the ASCMC student government because they see how administration after administration just appoints their friends to positions of power. If elected, I will not appoint my friends to a position. Rather, I will hold elections for every single position, save one – that of the Chief Financial Officer. This election includes ASCMC J-Board jurors, liaisons to the Board of Trustees, Secretary, curriculum committee members, Academic Affairs and the ASCMC Forum, among other positions. Those positions we cannot elect, we will require that all applicants have their applications placed online and every ASCMC meeting, no matter its nature will be online. Most will be on the CMC-equivalent of CSPAN. (Try not to get too bored.) And, in keeping with that transparency, every dime will be placed online. These reforms allow people with ideas to run on the strength of their ideas – and not who they happen to know -- and give an opportunity for a freewheeling student press to hold ASCMC officers responsible for the pledges they make.
- Parking Negotiations with Scripps College: Parking has gotten really atrocious with all of the ongoing construction. At the start of the year, I opposed the decision to ban freshmen from parking on the grounds that it was unfair and would likely lead to parking ninjas – people parking without permits. I was right. Just to the north quad lies a parking structure that is at maximum only 15% full. ASCMC should negotiate to allow us to park there and I will begin that process. Eventually, we could negotiate to have a five campus wide parking permit for those times when you don’t exactly feel like walking to class up at Harvey Mudd or Pomona.
- Turning Down Money For Myself, So That You Can Have More: ASCMC Presidents shouldn’t be running for room and board, but for the privilege of serving their fellow students. If elected, I will voluntarily abolish both the president’s special slush fund – “the president’s special fund” and my own room and board allotment. I encourage my competitors to do the same, if they are able. I will not fund any group on campus that does not have CMC members and will be more stringent about requiring non-CMCers to contribute their fair share to our parties. I will hold a referendum on whether or not we should continue to fund Ayer (the yearbook) and one of our biggest expenses per year at some $25,000+. Together, that should save us around $60,000 – money you will get back in the form of ASCMC rebates, which you can spend however you like. (Of course, I’m currently in talks with several local liquor stores for ASCMC discounts when you should spend that money. The thinking is that you’ll buy better booze than ASCMC does – not a tall order.)
- Ending Wasteful, Dishonest Spending: Claremont McKenna produces some of the finest accountants and financial thinkers in the country – and yet our budget, according to one former CFO, routinely leaks up to 30 to 40 percent. To put it less charitably, it is stolen. A few years ago, a CMC junior class president took (or "misplaced") between $6000 and $10,000 from Monte Carlo Night and then promptly dropped out of school. The money was never paid back. I would hit people caught taking money from ASCMC with a 1099 form. (If they are stealing money from us, they probably aren’t going to want the IRS to find out.) An email went out last semester that said that the “sloppiness” at the parties accounted for “a few g’s” over the then-past few weeks. I’d find out and hold those responsible for the damage.
- More Efficient Allocations of Club Funds: Clubs are part of what makes CMC extracurricular events such an enriching experience for so many of us. But what’s to be done about the clubs that get a disproportionate amount of money and have few members? What’s to be done about club leaders exaggerating the number of members they have, so as to get more funding? I propose that before any club receives funding, we should require its leaders to put in the card numbers of its members. Clubs where one card member appears too much will have their funding reduced – incentivizing clubs not to inflate their numbers and guarantee a fairer distribution of club member fees. (If this idea sounds as if it came from Freakonomics, that’s because it did.)
- Financial controls on parties: We have two parties coming back to back right now – the White Party and the Wedding Party. It strikes me that these parties were designed with the election of people to future ASCMC offices. These parties represent total boondoggles. When it comes to spending upwards of $20,000 – nearly a twelfth of ASCMC’s total budget – I will hold a referendum so that we can be sure that that’s money we want to spend. I will never authorize those large expenditures without calling for a school-wide vote.
If these ideas appeal to you, I’d appreciate your vote. I encourage you to run with me – for any and every position so that we can have a critical mass to get the job done. This platform is a work in progress, and I would appreciate any feedback -- positive or negative -- on the ideas presented. Let's make this a contract between you, me, and ASCMC to make our school better. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.
These past few days I gathered signatures for my run for ASCMC president. Within 10 hours, I had well more than the 200 I needed to be placed on the ballot. In the first day before we filed, I overturned a selective reading of the ASCMC constitution that would have made it a disqualifiable offense for you simply to read this platform here. And while I have formally challenged both of my opponents to a debate, ASCMC has decided that one should not take place. I think this is a mistake, and will gladly debate either or both of my opponents this Sunday or Monday Evening in the Bauer Forum on how we can go forward as a campus.