So I’m thinking about running for President of the Student Union. I’m not sure if I should, and I’d like your advice.

This is a very personal, introspective post. I’m not writing it like I would normally write a blog post. Feel free to skip it.

(I checked with the elections commissioner – asking you for advice is fine and doesn’t count as campaigning. So no worries there. I am honestly undecided at the moment)
Here is my thought process. I’m trying to be as honest as I can:

The Student Union can do great things. The presidency is clearly the most powerful position a student can have on campus, when it comes to making our lives better. As president, I could use that power for good. I could fuse community organizing, online organizing, and “what the president normally does” to create something special. As president, I could fulfill a journey I started my freshman year, when I founded Innermost Parts, and finally have the power to really stand up for what students want with the administration. I know the way I’d be president would be unique, special.

On the other hand, I’m going to be a senior next year. Being Student Union president is a full time job on top of classes. Do I want to do that to myself? I respect every else who is running – I feel uncomfortable being forward enough to claim that I’d do a better job than any of them. I enjoy my friends, I enjoy my studies, and my plan was devoting more time on them next year, not less.

I’d have to give up Innermost Parts. I simply wouldn’t have time to put into it as well. If I run and win, hopefully someone else would carry the torch next year (and keep me honest).

That’s the thing. Would the combination of me at Innermost Parts + someone else as President help the school more than me as president and someone else at Innermost Parts? I don’t know. This goes into a whole conversation of who will take over Innermost Parts. I’m trying hard to develop new leadership and the next generation of blogger/activists to replace me – but is anyone ready? Will anyone be ready?

In any case. Back to the dilemma. There are of course personal benefits from being president. I’d feel happy with a title. I’d get a lot of personal growth out of it. It’d be a nice capstone to my year. It’d also be a heavy millstone around my year. Do I really want to spend my last year of college working this hard? The job is stressful, but it also seems kinda fun to me. It reminds me of the days of the Brandeis Budget Cut Coalition – that week was the most busy and hectic of my life, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. So I think I could handle it and like it. But it would probably weigh me down.

People say that they are worried that I’ll be disappointed in not making as much change as I’d like to. Maybe that’s true. Maybe the presidency isn’t as powerful as I think it is.  Also, what with senior administration leaving or whatever (for example, I hear Dean Jaffe’s term is over and he’s going back to teaching Econ), and with even the Brandeis Presidency going to someone new, the student union president will be more powerful than usual, I think.

People say that I work better on the outside than on the inside. I say to them: have you seen me work within the system yet? You have only my record as an “outside the system” guy to work on. I think I could be quite effective as a “within the system” guy. I don’t know – I haven’t really done that since high school.

So I don’t know. It’s a big decision. I guess after writing all that out I’m leaning towards running. I’ve always kept the possibility open – my name is on the sign-up sheet in Shapiro, after all. Still, I’m not sure. Every person I talk to sways me a different way. This morning, I was leaning against running, for example. But I still have doubts. I’m not sure what is best for me, and I’m not sure what’s best for the school.

What do you think? I honestly really want to know.

12 comments on “Should I run for President?”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Who else is running for president?

  2. Devorah Says:

    What changes if you run and don’t win?

  3. David Baumgold Says:

    I don’t know anyone more qualified to be Student Union President. Sahar, you’re known on campus as a political activist, as a smart guy, and most importantly, as a guy who goes out and gets stuff done. If this is a position that you want, that you’re passionate about, then I say go for it. Everyone wins: you get the power and influence of the position, and the rest of us get to take advantage of your energy and passion fighting for the student body.

    On the other hand, if you feel like you’re better able to make a difference with Innermost Parts, then by all means, do so. The Student Union is established; Innermost Parts is still new, and that provides lots of opportunities of its own.

    Think about what you want to accomplish. Think of what you want to be able to say on your resume, whether its based around the Student Union or around working outside the system. Find your passion, and go for it — and remember, your choices aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

  4. Amanda Says:

    CAN the president ever accomplish anything? Or is bureaucracy too thick and sticky to move around in? If it is something where you can actually get shit done, then I think you would feel very fulfilled with the position. But will you necessarily be fulfilling your goals to a greater extent that you are now? Sometimes it seems like the best way to be effective is to affect a larger number of people, but maybe you’re needed on the ground more to make a more significant impact for a smaller number of people – not just in changing the way things are done and having various members of the student body affected by it, but also by who you work with, and what they can learn from you. All that being said, I think you have the quintessential qualifications for this job, and if you got it, I think it would set a great precedent for the type of person who should want this job and who should have this job. Then again, the career you’ve established at Brandeis is also something that should be followed, and maybe you should stick with what you do and encourage more people to forge similar (personally tailored) careers, you know, set THAT example.

  5. Sahar Says:

    @Andrea – JV Souffrant, Daniel Acheampong, Matt Kriegsman. So far.

    @Devorah – Not much at all

  6. Sahar Says:

    I don’t know anyone more qualified to be Student Union President. Sahar, you’re known on campus as a political activist, as a smart guy, and most importantly, as a guy who goes out and gets stuff done. If this is a position that you want, that you’re passionate about, then I say go for it. Everyone wins: you get the power and influence of the position, and the rest of us get to take advantage of your energy and passion fighting for the student body.

    On the other hand, if you feel like you’re better able to make a difference with Innermost Parts, then by all means, do so. The Student Union is established; Innermost Parts is still new, and that provides lots of opportunities of its own.

    That’s the thing. I really like Innermost Parts. I don’t want it to die. Even if Innermost Parts was “twice as powerful” (whatever that means) as it is now, I don’t think we could do half of what the president does.

    Think about what you want to accomplish. Think of what you want to be able to say on your resume, whether its based around the Student Union or around working outside the system. Find your passion, and go for it — and remember, your choices aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

    I’m very resolutely against worrying about my resume. But I think you mean figuratively, didn’t you?

    I guess what you’re saying is that it’s definitely a possibility for me, but no matter what I do good things will happen. That’s a nice thought. Thanks David.

  7. Art Says:

    more choices on the ballot can’t hurt. ie, you have nothing to lose.

  8. Sahar Says:

    Amanda,

    CAN the president ever accomplish anything? Or is bureaucracy too thick and sticky to move around in?

    The bureaucracy is mostly on the administration side. A lot of the presidents power comes from representing student to the administration. I don’t think I would focus on that, though. I’m excited about the idea of also focusing attention on students, esp if the bureaucracy gets too big.

    But I know that dealing with administrators is sometimes frustrating because they do move so slowly. You’re right.

    If it is something where you can actually get shit done, then I think you would feel very fulfilled with the position. But will you necessarily be fulfilling your goals to a greater extent that you are now? Sometimes it seems like the best way to be effective is to affect a larger number of people, but maybe you’re needed on the ground more to make a more significant impact for a smaller number of people

    This is a very good point. I’ll have to think about it.

    – not just in changing the way things are done and having various members of the student body affected by it, but also by who you work with, and what they can learn from you. All that being said, I think you have the quintessential qualifications for this job, and if you got it, I think it would set a great precedent for the type of person who should want this job and who should have this job. Then again, the career you’ve established at Brandeis is also something that should be followed, and maybe you should stick with what you do and encourage more people to forge similar (personally tailored) careers, you know, set THAT example.

    Amanda, that seems to ring true to me too.

  9. Alan Royals Says:

    No.

  10. Doug Moore Says:

    Yes.

    Sahar, if you are willing to put up with whatever is going to happen next year, I would gladly support you. We might not see completely eye to eye politically (I stress completely), but I think no one in this school cares more than you do about Brandeis. You have the passion, the charisma, and the balls to run this school’s student union. Best of luck with your decision.

  11. Lev Says:

    If you run, I’ll vote for you.

    But I’d rather you keep innermostparts alive. Its more important than the Student Union presidency really.

  12. Devorah Says:

    A note about Innermost Parts – it would seem to me like an advantage to pass the torch on Innermost Parts while you’re still at Brandeis. If you do it after you graduate, you’re just gone. If it dies, there’s nothing you can do. If you’re still a student you can still keep one foot in – make sure there’s someone, and if the first person doesn’t work out find another person with both the passion and ability to keep it alive and help it grow, etc.

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