SWIL Election Mechanics

It seems like we as an organization have problems every year around this time. From my point of view, these problems seem to come from trying to form a single viable coalition well before the election. I understand that the motivation behind this is to create a set of SWILPresidents that will (a) “be best for SWIL” and (b) minimize offending other non-members.

Most of the badness seems to center around the cloak of secrecy that generally surrounds the formation of said coalitions. The idea seems to be to have the coalition fully formed well in advance of making the general SWIL populace aware of who is in the coalition. The problem is that, in order to form the coalition, you need to talk to people, which means that word is going to get out. This is particularly an issue if more than the standard three people want to be president.

I think we should consider a more democratic method of electing the SWILPresidents. SWIL as a whole should know what’s best for itself, and be able to pick three individuals who will best serve as co-presidents. There are a number of different methods that could be used, including approval voting (take the top three vote-getters), or everyone gets three votes, or something else entirely. I think that making the election more than just a big inside joke would help more than it would hurt. It would eliminate the secrecy that tends to cause methods.

The only major problem that I can forsee is that we could end up electing three individuals who can’t/won’t work together. I would hope that this is the sort of thing that we as college students can resolve.

What is the history of SWIL election methods? I know we haven’t always had trifectas, but has every trifecta been a pre-made coalition? Can we avoid this sort of thing in the future?


65 responses to “SWIL Election Mechanics”

  1. Just to be clear on this, Ultranurd asked for history. Below is history as I remember it. I have no knowledge of the current situation and I am not making any recommendations about How Things Should Be or What Y’all Should Do.

    In the way back time, there was generally one viable candidate (or duo) who everyone knew would win the election and, perhaps, one token opposition candidate. Occasionally, someone would have to be pressed into being the token opposition so we could pretend that there were choices to be made in the election. I think this is where the silly non-candidates come from, the need for some kind of token opposition. Often, the current president would approach someone(s) in the fall whom they felt would be responsible and moderate and encourage them to run, to ensure that there would be a viable candidate. This could be interpreted as the current presidents selecting their successor. It could also be interpreted as there generally being one obvious candidate/pair who were active in SWIL, knowledgeable about SF, moderate enough to be non-controversial, and organized enough to get things done. As far as I knew, there was no one particularly pining to be president, but perhaps I’m editing the past to make it rosier than it was.

    I have been both the token opposition (I was nominated by someone else and totally hadn’t expected it) and the viable candidate (as part of a duo).

    The year before I arrived at Swat, there was a massive schism that split SWIL and resulted in people leaving, never to be seen at SWIL meeting again. As I understand the story, one group wanted SWIL to be more of a hardcore SF organization, with fewer non-SF distractions. The other wanted to keep the more far-flung social silliness aspects of SWIL. Both sides campaigned for president. Obviously, only one could win. It is my impression that the split and trauma arising from that controversy resulted in the care taken during my years that there should be one relatively obvious, relatively moderate presidential slate.

  2. In that case, it sounds as though the larger presidency is part of why so much conspiring is required – one must construct a ticket that includes people in addition to the obvious candidate. But Theory of SWIL is dangerous territory.

    I assume that the side that wanted silliness won. Is this correct?

  3. My impression was that the less hardcore faction won, but now I’m thinking that I remember tales of SF vs. fantasy as well, so I’m not entirely sure I’ve got the exact details of the two factions straight. Eclectic_boy would know. He was actually there for it.

  4. For the record, we nearly lost to “Picard, Q, and the Subtext” last year. Where I think “nearly” means we would’ve lost if one more person had come to meeting, or something different had happened with absentee ballots.

  5. I can’t help it, I know it’s wrong, but my linguistic sense keeps telling me that second word is pronounced “threevil” and then it giggles madly.


  7. for SWIL President!

    Bypass all the drama and vote in the most qualified leader who *should* have won all four of her years at Swarthmore!

    If you didn’t vote for the White House, vote for her now!



  10. Hey, don’t talk about JC that way. JC is awesome!

  11. Although, again with my own memory of history, when you and your co-president (and your co-president and you) were winding down your presidency, no-one had come forward or been brought forward. I wrote ‘consider co-presidency’ on a Sharples napkin and slipped it to andele, and then set about recruiting a token opposition. That was jdh92, who of course was more qualified than our ticket, and who drew a fair number of votes.
    At any rate, there was no animosity, as far as I know, although there may well have been some resentment at how well I kept my campaign promise to be off-campus for at least three meetings out of four. The token opposition was the next president, nearly by acclamation if I recall correctly.
    Of course, in those days pretty much all the president did was write up SWILnews, make sure that there were people volunteered for the Hunt and BEM and Schlock, and make the occasional appearance at May Day parades and such. My understanding is that the presidency has evolved to include far more responsibility; the deuterochiliastic era was a happier time, when foreign policy arguments stopped at the Kuwaiti border.

    Thank you,

  12. May Day parades? What are/were those?

    The presidents don’t really do much more than that. Maybe there’s a bit more coordinating of the Hunt involved, especially if the presidents are past Hunt wizards, and there’s a lot more weird social stuff that centers on the presidents, apparently, but technically, the responsibilities haven’t changed. SWILnews and running meeting are most of it.

  13. We just talked about it earlier than we ought to have.

    Huh. In January or February of my freshman year, Prime, Ben and I were wandering towards ML when Ben said, “wanna run for SWILPresident with us?”

  14. Was joke. See, once upon a time, in the Cold War, it was so difficult to tell what was going on in the Politburo (um, of the Soviet Union, not trying to be patronizing, but, y’know, it’s been fifteen years) that the groupings at the May Day parades were endlessly interpreted for who was up, who was down, and who had been sent to Siberia, and who was not as dead as rumour had it.


Nurd Up!