The Pro-Nuclear Zone (Iowa State, 1987)
You know, parents always aspire to their children doing bigger things. Funny when it happens in some ways. Long ago, I had the privilege of serving as El Presidente and Dictator of Foster House, a floor in Westgate and the Union Drive Assoc. at Iowa State. Right now, my oldest son is the President of Friley Hall, the biggest residence hall in the country (and what used to be the UDA). In any event... Colleges are no different than high schools. Bureaucrats and administrators hit you with a crapload of paperwork and then within various student organizations, you get more paperwork (practice for real life, I suppose)--but the thing is, most of the crap you are required to do is stupid and irrelevant or irrelevant and stupid, take your pick. So? Well, everybody knows the paperwork is silly and within student organizations (or parts of a school that give students authority), the paperwork gets glossed over. It's just a tick-mark. Did it get turned in? Yes--great. Done. No?--send out reminder note 17-a3, file it with the Secretary's office in the A56-13 folder. In the mid-1980s, I assure you NO ONE read what was turned in. Not the people in charge and not the people who voted on the approval of what was submitted. We thought that was the case--and we made sure to prove it. In the Fall of 1987, the Year of the Mysterious Live Baseball, the last full year of Reagan's presidency nearing, Foster House was thriving in Westgate Hall, 42 residents and a resident assistant (the first one was a weird Pakistani guy--Ali Something...he left at break, replaced by Larry Martin who understood that all paperwork was BS--he was a good fit). Now, I am biased about the greatness of the 87-88 year, mainly because that was the year I served my term as President of Foster--and we had a great cabinet: President: Me Vice-P: Dave Pieart (who went on to be the first president of Niles-Foster) Social Chairs: Arnel Citurs, Ron Silverio, Chris Libby Secretary: (has suddenly blanked on me) Treasurer: Mike Colangelo It is VITAL to understand that though we were all different, we all agreed that paperwork was BS. In terms of being a floor's government, we had hoops we had to jump through. Mikey had to have the account information on file and go to a meeting on how to be treasurer, we had to have the RA at cabinet meetings to guarantee compliance with Union Drive Association rules (with Ali...we kinda forgot about this...ooops), things like that. One of the other requirements was that each floor had to have a written constitution with its rules and by-laws--quiet hours, penalties for not paying social dues, etc. All basic stuff. I figure that most floors just scratched out the year, replaced it with the current one and resubmitted. Also important--Iowa State is a relatively conservative campus. It's ok to have your views, but don't force them on other people and most certainly, don't interfere with getting an education--if you want to do whacked-out, stoned, hippie protests and have love-ins, smoke-ins, and crap like that, the University of Iowa was just down the road. At the time we're going about our constitution, the GSB (Government of the Student Body) had a bunch of whack-jobs running it (on the far left of things). They handcuffed themselves to the building where CIA interviews were taking place, crap like that. Well, one day, they decided they were going to vote on a motion that had already been passed by the University of Iowa's student body (that tells you what you need to know right there...), saying that "Iowa State University will be a nuclear free zone and nothing related to nuclear weapons will be allowed on campus." Yeah. See, even student governments waste time on worthless crap--where do you think your State Congress and the US Congress get their training? There are so many problems with that 'legislation', starting with the fact that State still had a working reactor on campus at that point in time (so do we have to ban nuclear engineering students?) or the debate over how high does Iowa State's airspace go--are the Soviets allowed to fly over ISU's airspace on the way to blasting Des Moines into glowing green glass? What's the penalty for violating the GSB's ruling? That's where Foster came in. In our constitution, right in the middle of it actually, we inserted a clause stating "Foster House is a pro-nuclear zone and is willing to host fissionable materials for the US government or approved parties." We took a vote on it at the house meeting--where the constitution was approved unanimously (imagine that, the RA never read the constitution...go figure) which meant it got passed up the line to the ResHall association, the UDA (Union Drive Assoc.), for the UDA Senate's approval where conveniently, it was approved unanimously as well (only one UDA senator had read the constitution--that was OUR vice-president, Dave Pieart). GSB didn't have the power to override constitutions, etc. Sadly, they dropped their whole proposed legislation--it would've been great to see how they tried to handle things since they weren't allowed to override house constitutions, made better because it passed a floor vote and Association vote both unanimously! But some of the fun in tweaking the system is making sure they know they've been had. I believe it was Dave that pointed out the clause to the people in charge--as part of the whole GSB debate. Yeah, there were a lot of unhappy people higher up. How the heck can you miss something like a pro-nuclear clause if you've read the constitution like you're supposed to have, right? --and we didn't hide it at all...it was it's own article and everything. Sadly, the ResHalls changed the rules after that---by 1991, constitutions were forced to take a certain form and only allowed to address certain issues. Anything else was automatically tossed out--and if the constitution didn't meet standards, the generic ResHall one was implemented instead. So what's the lesson? There are a couple actually: 1 - It's good to stick it to The Man. 2 - There's too much paperwork in the world. If 43 college kids can gunk the works, what do you think corporations and lobbying firms are capable of doing! 3 - 43 young men gunked up a government. *YOU* have that power as an individual. It just takes commitment and patience. Pursue your beliefs with passion. 4 - Read everything whether it's a status report or your contract. You sign it/approve it, you're stuck with it, so you better ask questions up front. 5 - Don't mess with Foster House. (Being too dangerous, The Man removed us from Westgate the following year, following that up with Westgate's demolition, destroying what surely would've been a rallying point and symbol for freedom and goodness for decades to come...and just as important, with the destruction of Foster House and Westgate--it eliminated the pro-nuclear zone....The Man is sneaky that way). As I will tell anyone--that group of men there, we were gods walking among mortals. "I am sworn brother, sweet, To grim Necessity, and he and I Will keep a league till death."