Memories Of A Really Bad Student Council President (Part Six)

When Mr. Simpson, one of the Student Council Faculty Advisors, told me one day in late November 1992 that he couldn’t support my Presidency anymore, I couldn’t live in denial any longer.  His words were like a knife fatally piercing the bubble of delusion that surrounded me during my 3 tumultuous months in office.  It killed me to hear that from him, but I needed to hear it.  It was clear I wasn’t going to finish my 10-month term, not without a herculean effort on my part. 
 
That night, I thought long and hard about what had gone wrong and what little had gone right.  I weighed my options.  Should I stick it out and really try to do things differently?  Could I possibly improve?  Was it worth all the aggravation just to survive?  Or should I just accept the fact that my heart was never really in this job?  I reminded myself that I only wanted to be Student Council President so I could do all the cool things Wade Perniac had done.  The caretakers (and the Council) had put a stop to that, for the most part.
 
I had to act quickly.  A movement was afoot to remove me from the head of the Council.  If I didn’t make a decision on my own, the conspirators would most certainly make that decision for me.  I was left with only one option.
 
The next day there was an after-school Executive meeting and before we began, I read a speech.  As I started, I heard Heather (the hot VP) making a very sad noise.  I learned later on that she was not one of my biggest fans when I started but, near the end of my abbreviated tenure, she staunchly supported me.  I honestly don’t know why she changed her mind but if only I had the balls to go up to her and open up about what I was going through.  Then, I would’ve gotten the whole story and maybe some much-needed, helpful advice.  It sucks being shy and stubborn.
 
It was hard not to show emotion while I read the words I wrote the previous night and anyone could see I was visibly devastated.  I felt completely deflated, emotionally spent.  And yet, it had to be done.  I gave it 3 months, did not perform to the best of my ability (although I was doing a much better job conducting meetings after my mom helped me understand what I was doing wrong) and realized that being Student Council President was no fun for me at all.  Ever.
 
It was very strange, this sad state of affairs.  Most of us had known each other and liked each other for years.  But not this year.  If only, as either one of the Council members or the Faculty Advisors had said (I can’t remember who said it now), we had locked ourselves in a room and screamed out our problems, we may have made the first step in mending not only the chemistry of the Council but also our friendships. 
 
I remember there was the odd "grievance meeting" where the Executives voiced their pointed disapproval with my leadership right to my face.  Unlike me, they were not shy about expressing their disappointment with me.  I remember one time they just kept going on and on and it was just unbearable.  At one point, I simply said, "Am I supposed to respond to that?"  To them, it sounded awfully defensive and it made them even more angry.  They talked amongst themselves while I rested my head on the desk I was sitting at using my arms as protective cover.  It didn’t seem to block out the brutality.  If only I snapped and actually tried to defend myself.  God knows I had legitimate grievances against them, too.  (Too bad I didn’t have the courage of my convictions to really go after them as hard as they went after me.)  It might’ve been the first step in ending the disrespectful nature of our disagreements.  None of us were very good at diplomacy.
 
I’ve mentioned a couple of times this angry guy who ran against me in the Presidential Election.  He was absolutely brutal to me.  I remember one time during one particularly angry meeting, he was so nasty I literally sat there and cried.  He offended me so much I had to leave the room.  I went into the bathroom and bawled.  My eyes were so red.  I was so ashamed at what I saw in the mirror.  I got a pop out of the vending machine and went back in to hear more brutal criticisms.  He was relentless.  I had never taken a mental bruising like that in my entire life.  It changed me.
 
Maybe he was over-the-top and blunt with his criticisms, but, when I think about it (and I’ve thought about it for years), it was hard to dispute much of what he said.  I was "incompetent," and a complete disaster as President.  I was a consistent screw-up from day one.  But a lot of that had to do with the fact that I made no effort in the summer to truly prepare for this gig.  Had I really researched the President’s role on Council, things might’ve been different.  Despite my occasional bouts of shyness, I normally got along with people very well (like many of the Executives he didn’t think I was a "people person"; what an insult, eh?). I just didn’t click with this particular group of people.  He had painted an extraordinarily negative picture of myself and it shattered me.  But I still believe he was very resentful I legitimately beat him in the election.  If there’s a small consolation in all of this, it’s that I was democratically elected and he wasn’t.  I can’t help but smile about that. 
 
Truth be told, I had a run-in with him years earlier.  We had a little history.  It was during a school trip and we almost came to blows in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, if my memory has held up.  We had to be separated, it got so intense.  I don’t remember what set us both off, especially the angry guy, but I’m sure it had something to do with his cross eyes.  He was very sensitive about that.  It’s one of the many things he needs to fix about himself, the resentful bastard.
 
If you’ve been following along you might be wondering, "How did that angry guy end up in the Executive when he lost?"  For reasons that are not entirely clear to me now, before the school year started, we somehow ended up with a couple of vacancies that needed to be filled.  Angry guy got one of the positions as did my friend Shane Willson who became the Treasurer, a great and welcome ally in a sea of hostility.  (Believe it or not, I was criticized for cheering this decision during an executive meeting.  As if that’s such a horrible thing to do, to show support for an incoming Council member.)  As the school year began, more people quit and those positions had to be filled as well.  Not that that mattered, in the long run.
 
I should mention that we did try, at one point, to bring in an outside source to help heal the wounds of the Executive Branch.  This guy, Dave, perfectly nice guy, approached me one morning and we had a private meeting.  He was pitching me an idea.  He had this program called "Connecting" and it was all about making dysfunctional groups of all types more functional.  (I remember during one of the classes he namedropped Gino Reda from TSN.)  He was in over his head but I welcomed his program.  I brought it to Council, we voted on it and soon, he was teaching us how to connect.  I can’t remember how long he was there but it proved ineffective.  This Council was never going to function the way it needed to.  It wasn’t as if the student body gave a damn.  The never-ending caretakers’ strike plus the low atmosphere that spread to every hallway and classroom in the school seemed to put a permanent damper on things.  Everybody just wanted to get this year over with, especially us Grade 12 students.  Especially me.
 
After I made my speech to my fellow Executives during that utterly depressing November afternoon meeting, my written resignation was accepted and filed away.  (I wish I could get it back.  I’d love to remind myself what I wrote back then.  It was a pretty good speech.)  It was decided that I should stay on both councils as an honourary member which, I have to admit, was an amazing gesture.  Unfortunately, I should’ve declined.
 
As I was about to discover, the new President was just as controversial as I was. 
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, May 22, 2006
11:45 p.m.
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Published in: on May 23, 2006 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  

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