Thoughts on Election Arithmetic

April 27th, 2010

In one week, RNE will hold the fourth in a series of two elections. RPInsider has a quick summary of the calculations which produced this counterintuitive result, but that won’t tell you anything about the perverse axioms used to derive such a nonsensical method of counting.

Current GM and candidate Michael Zwack has written some comments, in which he says:

Together we need to identify issues so we can positively address them.

Oddly enough, we did that already. We’ve already been through the process of violations and sanctions, just last year, with the same candidates. There was a general consensus that the election rules were the problem. One Senator even said, “What were we thinking when we approved them?”

The issues were identified, but no one “positively addressed” anything, and last year’s rules were copied and pasted into this year’s handbook. Same equations, same initial conditions. No one should be surprised by the same results.

The election process needs to be redesigned from scratch, keeping these facts at the center:

  1. The point of elections is to discern the will of the students.
  2. The point of rules is to ensure fairness.
  3. The point of sanctions is to correct unfairness.

This implies that there should be no sanctions for something that does not create an unfair advantage. It implies that sanctions are not primarily punishments or political tools. It implies that they should be proportionate.

It also implies that election results should not be nullified unless there has been massive deception of the student body. Like, say, a candidate who is really an inflatable whale, or something.

The current rules prohibit too many things which do not cause unfair advantages, and they allow sanctions which simply add another layer of unfairness. RNE can issue any penalty it likes for any infraction. You can get all your posters torn down for using your campaign manager’s contact information instead of your own. (That happened two years ago.) You can lose postering rights, which are granted to everyone by the Student Rights and Responsibilities, for postering on the footbridge, which is not even RPI property. You can get your spending quota reduced for putting multiple candidate names on the same poster (though that rule appears and disappears.)

Study the election system carefully, and then ask: is this really a process for discovering the will of the student body? Is the victor its legitimate representative?

At the very least, it’s reasonable to answer “Not entirely.” There has to be something wrong with a system that produces results like “4 < 2″.

Student government has known about this for fifteen years. It is what brought the IOP into being. The problems it causes are obvious. Just look around: there are election posters when you should be studying for finals. And still no one has made elections fair and just.

I’m not even going to explain why this means you should vote for Arthur.

IOP Victory Parade this Wednesday!

April 25th, 2010

This Wednesday there will be an awesome IOP victory parade in light of the recent elections announcement.

Please come and celebrate the 144th Grand Marshal of RPI : Arthur Galpin.

Various signs will be available to carry for all who want them, or bring your own!

There will be a brief meet ‘n greet with Arthur at 12:45 at the commons fountain where he will down the GM tophat. The parade starts at 1pm and will follow the route shown in the picture posted below. It will end outside the union, where we hope to have music and free food and drinks.

Please RSVP on Facebook (http://is.gd/bGVa6) and spread the word!

IOP Parade Route

Zwack has gone too far.

April 22nd, 2010

So, I just saw one of  Zwack’s dweebish minions putting up MORE retarded Zwack posters.  Un-fucking-believable. Zwack is spending hundreds of dollars to make the RPI campus look retarded. And not to mention, he fed half the campus donuts on election day… add that with the banners and everything, and some say the cost of his campaign is in the thousands. At iop. we run things on a shoestring budget.  So far we’ve spent around at most $40 to buy the inflatable ninja whales and several rolls of masking tape. I would be putting up more iop. posters, but I’m out of masking tape and don’t feel like buying more. And at the moment everyone is pretty sick of seeing posters stuck all over campus.

I am debating whether to :

1. Organize a massive iop. postering campaign to totally dominate Zwack’s retarded posters with awesome iop. posters.

2. Let things run their course and not waste my time with this nonsense.

3. Sneak into Zwack’s office and sneak iop. propaganda into all his files.

4. Some other devious scheme. I am sick of hearing about these so-called “Zwacktions”. As Ben Hunt said recently “I don’t even know why he’s running again”. What audacity to think he deserves to be the first GM in RPI history to serve a second term.

In anycase I may soon be reaching a breaking point. Something needs to be done to end this nonsense.

*note: someone pointed out that his campaign finances are supposed to be in the public record. According to that record, he’s spent hundreds, not thousands.

Remarks on the debate

April 15th, 2010

So, I went to the debate yesterday and I figured I’d give a critique.

First, I was impressed by the high level of organization and professionalism in the debate operation. Brian Zaik was a very slick moderator and RPI TV was on top of things.

However, I quickly found myself bored by the candidates answers. There was little debate on issues, and the issues were mostly related to internal affairs of student government and not things which effect voters.  The viewers were left to make judgments based on the manner in which the responses were given, since the candidates agreed on almost everything. I think often the candidate who is the most relaxed appears the most confident. To that end, Zwack and Spitz seemed the most relaxed. However, I think Spitz got a bit too lazy at times. Niedhart acted as the experienced professional, and Hunt tried to be more relaxed and “cool”, empasizing all the lofty positions he has held in his 4+ years on campus.

Read the rest of this entry »

Random Rocketry

April 13th, 2010

From The Remarkable Rocket by Oscar Wilde:

“I had thoughts of entering public life once myself,” remarked the Duck; “there are so many things that need reforming. Indeed, I took the chair at a meeting some time ago, and we passed resolutions condemning everything that we did not like. However, they did not seem to have much effect.”

Sounds like RPI politics. If a duck can do it, why not an inflatable whale?
The Rocket from that story is an interesting character who ought to run for Student Senate next year. Or maybe he’d fit in with RNE.

Calhoun’s campaign

April 11th, 2010

I have received some backlash from other iop. members for my post about Calhoun. Just to be clear: the post was not an official iop. endorsement and Paul Calhoun is not at all affiliated with iop. or supported by iop We don’t consider him an ally either. Also, my post was based on his actions up until the time of writing, and in light of his campaign video and other recent actions I have changed my mind about Calhoun and no longer support his campaign. In brief, I feel he is sophomoric and I wouldn’t want to see him in office.*  I also felt like the way he approached the RNE was silly and that he ended up hurting himself by antagonizing the RNE.  Even so, I will let my piece stand as it is since it highlights some of the things I liked about his campaign.

*even an office as pointless as Vice-President.

-Akira

Join the iop.!

April 10th, 2010

Hello lesser mortals!

I have decided the time has come for a new manifesto – a call to arms for my next generation of supporters. First, here is a little history:

My earliest campaigns in 1997 fought against the uselessness of student government and the tyranny of the RPI administration. We protested the lack of student gov. involvement in things that matter and we protested the mandatory laptop program. We protested the uselessness and outright silliness of student elections and the GM position. We protested for freedom – freedom from oppression, freedom to have our voices heard, and freedom to choose the computer and operating systems we wanted.

Upon the arrival of Dr. Jackson in 1999, we protested the “Ren-suh-leer Plan” and the powerplays which shifted focus away from engineering and redirected massive amounts of funding to pet projects. We protested the way the grad students got screwed and the increased workloads on TAs. We protested the way laptop based classes ruined our education. We protested the lack of parking, increased tuition, the apathy of the student body and the continued uselessness of student government. We battled the wind, the rain and the RNE. We stood strong in the face of the naysayers and the idealists.

In 2007, we protested the disbanding of the faculty senate and in 2008 we continued to protest with ioperatives participating in a sit-in along with disgruntled faculty and peers. In 2009 we participated in the Uprise at 5! and protested layoffs, fiscal mismanagement, lack of fiscal transparency, the screwing of the RAs, the ridiculousness of the CLASS Initiative, and the free-speech fiasco with Wafaa Bilal.

Today, we have new things to protest: the destruction of the foreign language department and Dr. Jackson’s new feudal mansion. And we continue to campaign for student gov’t.  But we need renewed help and support.

There seems to be some confusion about what iop. is and what it stands for. First of all, it’s important to realize that I alone do not have complete control over the iop. While I am the main candidate and figurehead and am able to rally supporters and control many aspects of campus life, I do not and cannot control what the ioperatives do. But this is all part of my master plan. The iop is sometimes referred to as having a “cellular” organization structure. Each cell is run independently by a different group of ioperatives. The structure I am involved in is perhaps the most “official” but not necessarily the only one. The cellular structure is part of my plan because it means that if one cell disbands the organization will still carry on in other cells.

Here are the three important goals of iop today:

Fight the oppressors! The iop. can be thought of as an anarchist or minarchist organization. The iop believes inanimate objects can do a better job then people and we stand by that.

Hack! We like to hack and pull off awesome publicity stunts.

Be absurd! Even with all our serious plans and philosophizing, the iop. remains and should remain an absurdest organization.

I am looking for people to join the iop!!

If you are interested in joining please email arthur (at ) inflatablewhale.org

Ioperatives will be planning and organizing my 2010 campaign.

Notably unstable,

Arthur Galpin

Future Grand Marshall and De-Facto Emperor of RPI.

Accepted Student’s Day a Success

April 10th, 2010

Today I had a chance to meet a lot of accepted students. With bright sunny weather and a refreshing cool breeze, everyone was in good spirits. Next year I would like to see an iop. table at the accepted students’ celebration in the union. This year we managed to put up a small display and people were generally enthusiastic and supportive of the cause. Two inflatable ‘ninja-whales” emerged in the union, (one was donated to S&W) and some posters were put up.

It was nice to see students being so welcoming to the potential students. First impressions are really important and a good social experience can win over students who may be undecided. I just really hope that RPI student’s will stay as polite and friendly as they were today in the coming months and years. Some RPI clubs have a reputation of being closeted and clique-y, but today it seemed everyone who was interested was welcome.  In the past, I’ve heard students warning a lot about the ratio and a lot of loathing about problems on campus to the accepted students.  It’s good for potential students to know the problems and issues, but many of these students have already decided to come to RPI, and such complaining is not a good way to start them off. People should start off with a positive attitude and feel they are coming somewhere where people are friendly and generally happy.. even if it’s not exactly true, starting people off with a good mentality will help things change. Maybe I am just imagining it, but it seem that over the years the amount of “school spirit” has increased and now people are showing genuine support for RPI and RPI’s  “nerd culture” in all its various forms.   And, with regard to the number of girls I saw among the visitors, I was impressed!

LONG LIVE THE WHALE!

- Akira

iop. Interviews Paul Calhoun

April 7th, 2010

We’ve been intrigued by the witty posters from the “Hand Party” run by freshman Paul Calhoun. He is single-handily (no pun intended) giving iop. a run for our money, especially considering that we only have one new poster design this year. (About that — if you want to make a design, just email arthur@inflatablewhale.org and we’ll send you the logos in .svg or whatever format you want). Anyways, with his keen sense of wit and humor, he is also causing quite a stir among the RNE.   I guess the lesson learned was that you can never disparage another candidate in any way (best yet, don’t even mention the other candidates), or there will be harsh sanctions imposed on your party.  Haris Khan is running the RNE this year, and he already has the reputation of being the Stalin of the RNE. Other candidates are complaining the RNE has too much unchecked power.  I think these claims are unsubstantiated, but I tend to agree. For instance, Calhoun was forced to remove nearly all of his posters because tape from some of his signs slightly overlapped other candidate’s signs.  The sign policy is serious shit, which is why iop. recommends following it.  Heck, a few years ago some iop. officers got taken to the Dean of Student’s office over the sign policy.

Anyways, the iop. interviewed Paul to hear what he had to say about the now infamous Hand Party:

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy April Fools

April 1st, 2010

There’s some more information on the website now. The most complete account of IOP history yet written, and a few frequently requested answers, mostly related to elections.

On a side note, why do animate candidates always talk about sustainability, but then stick thousands of posters made from trees all over campus? That must be why they print them on the backs of homework assignments and printer cover pages.  (note: I noticed some of these papers had been printed by Haris Khan, head of the RNE. Talk about an inside job..)