Real Leadership: David Dantzler's SBP Platform

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A lot goes on that we don’t know about. I don’t want to wax conspiratorial, but I ask you to just consider the decisions that have been moved and passed this year alone: King’s proposed a fourth school with three new majors; the administration is debating whether to offer the entire Common Core (which is supposedly bastioned by the Socratic interaction of student and professor) online; several professors, some beloved, some not, were let go; Monday, they announced that we will leave the ESB for greener (or grayer) pastures. Now think, how many of these decisions did you have a say in, and how many would you like a say in?

I think we’ve been cut out of the conversation, and it’s my intention to cut us back in. The King’s SBP is a leader, a figurehead, a servant – but more than anything he’s a representative of the students to the powers-who-be.

Don’t get caught up in the lofty rhetoric – you and I both know what’s wrong with The King’s College. I know the questions and worries weighing down the pit of your stomach, the stuff of your sleepless nights: will you get into grad school? Will employers be impressed by your degree? Is it unethical to omit the “The” in “The King’s College” on your resume so it looks like you went to that school in London?

How can MCA majors expect their degree to have any currency in the outside world when it’s barely taken seriously by the school that made it? I’d rather that my fellow students don’t sit in entrance interviews after graduation and have to explain the difference between their degree and a finger-painting class. MCA is a good idea, one with great potential, but the administration has to take the program and the faculty seriously before it can fulfill that potential.

And why is the business degree always woefully underfunded and paid so little attention to, especially when some of our most successful students (read: future contributors to our endowment) graduate as business majors? And why are there only three mainstay business professors, while the rest of the business faculty are more transient than a pack of winos? Maybe business is less academic than PPE or MCA, but it’s a quicker return on investment – business majors go straight into jobs, powerful jobs—and they’ll make a name for King’s before anyone else. So why are we ignoring them?

PPE students: you want your degree to matter. You need to be competitive with politics majors, economics majors, and philosophy majors when you apply to graduate school. But you aren’t. If you’re a senior you’ve seen the Common Core change every year since 2008, and the course requirements shuffle around so much that you’re graduating with the same degree as future and past PPE students, but with an entirely different education. You’ve probably taken what is essentially the same economics course three times. Our economics program is perpetually stunted, and doesn’t compare to economics degrees from even mid-range universities. Our philosophy program is only this year burgeoning, but it still needs shoring up. You want an education that teaches real ideas, but not at the expense of the real world. I promise you we can strike that balance: a great education that ensures a great future.

If you’re like me, and you are, you want the outside world to see King’s the way I see it: an institution of serious critical inquiry into politics, culture, economics, business, philosophy, law, media and so on. Not as a bunch of basement nut-jobs with steel-reinforced Bibles and secret militia compounds in Nebraska to which we’re prepared to retreat once the Tribulational eschaton begins.

King’s is a great school, but that’s just what it is: a school. Not Jesus Camp, not a Republican spawning pool, not Glenn Beck University – but rather a serious, rigorous college.

And that’s as simple an answer to our problem as we could hope for. If we reach for our excellence as a school before anything else, the rest will follow. If we educate and prepare ourselves exceptionally well for whatever we want to do – whether that’s graduate school at Princeton or investment banking at UBI—those good things will come to us.

I could run a smear campaign like the GOP candidates are doing to each other now. I could tell you that Caz Crane’s birth certificate has been mysteriously absent from this whole affair. Or that this is Sam Tran’s third college, and that he asked his last college for an “open relationship” while it was on its death bed. But I won’t do that, because I want to run a clean campaign that focuses on the real issues.

And here is the mandatory portion of any political platform, wherein I detail my laundry list of credentials and bona fides. If you think I lack leadership experience, I don’t: I’m the Captain of TKC Basketball, and a good one, and I sit on the Student Athletic Advisory Board, defending King’s athletics to the higher-ups. Last semester, I interned in the Press Office of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And if you think I don’t have ideas, then I urge you to keep reading this and the other papers I’ll put out during my campaign. I know how to lead, but more importantly I know how to talk to people – and I’ll talk for you and fight for you with the school’s administration. Because this election is not about who’s the best thinker or the best leader or the prettiest; this is an election about who can recognize the real problems the students have with the school and who will really hound the administration about them until they’re fixed.

There’s too much white noise about nonissues: it isn’t about vision creep or worldly influence or getting out into the city. It’s about being a college that educates its students well, a college that takes seriously the investment you as a student have put into it. I want you to get what you paid for, because you paid a high price to come here. And I don’t just mean money: it’s no exaggeration to say we have students who had their choice of universities, the Ivy Leagues included – but they chose King’s. Why? Because they saw in King’s what I see in King’s, and what we all want to see in King’s: a worthwhile college, a solid education, a road that goes somewhere—not just a road to a bridge under which future PPE graduates will all live together in some kind of weird homeless commune.

So I submit that what matters here is really the schoolness of our school: how we educate and prepare ourselves compared to the best schools in the nation. It’s not out of our reach to send our graduates wherever they want to go, whether Princeton or Goldman Sachs or NBC Universal or the Vatican or anywhere else. But to do that we have to focus inwards first, we have to do what we now do better than we’re doing it, and better than anyone else does it.

Let’s get concrete. For instance, why doesn’t the school pay for deserving graduates to take GRE and LSAT prep courses? It seems like a good idea to me; let’s make it our business to see it done. And that’s just one of dozens of ideas that I have or that have been brought to me – let’s take our education back.

This is our school, not theirs. So, if you agree with me that the problems of this school are precisely school problems, then vote for me, and let me know how I can help you.

David Dantzler is a junior majoring in PPE and is in the House of Reagan. 

OpinionDavid Dantzler