Thursday, November 01, 2007

Undergraduate Crapola

BMOC Forrest Gilliam, president of the Appalachian State University Student Government Association and point-man on campus for the Templeton Gang during these Boone Town Council elections, has sent out an e-mail trying to propagandize ASU students into saving Dempsey Wilcox's seat in this current run-off election. Here's what Gilliam sent out:
Dear Friends,

The Boone election that was held on October 9 was so close that there is a runoff for the last spot on the Town Council. Dempsey Wilcox, who has supported ASU and its students for 12 years on the council, finished only four votes behind Liz Aycock, who has aligned herself with the people who have done everything in their power over the past six years to limit student housing, limit university construction, and discriminate against students who live in neighborhoods. Obviously, the vote the first time was close, and this one will be just as close. I need each of you to go vote this week for Dempsey Wilcox.

If Liz Aycock is elected there will only be two votes on the Town Council in December to approve the new College of Education. If Dempsey is elected there will be a majority for the College of Education. I hate to simplify things but you need to realize that if Aycock wins there will be no College of Education building on Howard Street, and the alternative sites are East Hall, Duck Pond Field, and Raley Lot. We can't afford to wait longer on a new building and we can't afford to destroy buildings and land that are important to students just because some folks on the Town Council are mad at Chancellor Peacock.

There is currently a shortage of student housing in Boone. This shortage is a result of the moratorium on multi-unit housing that was passed a few years ago (Dempsey Wilcox was the only member to vote against it). During the year plus of the moratorium, Boone continued to grow and students continued to enroll. Since the moratorium expired the majority on the council has turned down several proposals for apartment construction. Enrollment has caught up with the number of available beds in Boone, and the majority on the Town Council doesn't seem to care. A lack of available water has been consistenly used by the majority as justification for their denial of projects, yet just this month there was a proposal for an addition of 144 beds at Mountaineer Village. The developers were going to provide their own water, but the Council voted three to two to deny the project. Had Liz Aycock been on Council instead of Dempsey Wilcox, the vote would have been 4-1. If the vote takes place after Stephen Phillips takes office in December and Dempsey Wilcox is elected, the vote would be 3-2 in favor of the project. If Dempsey Wilcox is not elected, the housing shortage will only get worse....

A few observations on this fine piece of propaganda:

1. Gilliam follows the first rule of political manipulation: Find a bogeyman. Or several. "Liz Aycock ... has aligned herself with the people who have done everything in their power over the past six years to limit student housing, limit university construction, and discriminate against students who live in neighborhoods."

Let's get simplistic about it ... those "people" Gilliam wants ASU students to rise up and smite are ... discriminators! They hate students, pure and simple, and will do anything to hurt them.

Dude, what unadulterated crap is this?

2. Second Rule of Political Manipulation: Create multiple victims. In this case, it's not just students. It's also ... Chancellor Peacock. Quoth Gilliam, "some folks on the Town Council are mad at Chancellor Peacock." Apparently for no good reason. That's Gilliam's insinuation, never mind the recent history of university arrogance, rule-breaking, and failure to cooperate in dealing with the host Town of Boone.

In the Gilliam version of history, "some folks" in the Town of Boone have exercised a motiveless malice against a blameless victim.

3. The smearing of Liz Aycock (her guilt by association with "some folks") for the sake of swaying an election in favor of a 12-year incumbent whose main recent contribution to the discussion is to urge the faster expenditure of our water reserves ... is just gross.

4. Suddenly with this Gilliam e-mail, we have mixed messages thrown at student voters. What had been "Vote for Change" now becomes "Vote for the Most Entrenched," revealing what was in fact the true motive behind "Citizens for Change" all along: "We Want to Go Backward." This is not the only trope in Gilliam's e-mail that insults the intelligence of ASU students.

5. Mysterious arithmetic: According to Gilliam's e-mail, the reelection of Mr. Wilcox will ensure a majority of three on Town Council to overturn zoning law to allow the College of Education on the Howard Street property, where it can compete with the top of the Baptist Church steeple for domination of the neighborhood. Let's see ... Mr. Phillips, already elected, would be one vote. Mr. Wilcox, if reelected, would be the second. Who's the third? Mr. Gilliam doesn't say, but he's awfully smug about it.

6. Gilliam claims that there's a shortage of student-oriented housing in Boone, and said shortage has nothing to do with market forces and water supplies but with those "folks" who hate students. Meanwhile, we can't help noticing that ASU gets a total pass on providing dorms for its own customers.

7. We appreciate the odor of desperation. Citizens for Change has already lost the election. The unprecedented hordes of voters in October made sure that Boone kept a progressive council, no matter what happens to the third seat in this run-off. If Wilcox loses, someone is bound to notice that the biggest accomplishment of Citizens for Change and their expenditure of multiple tens of thousands of $$ was the loss of their one dependable vote on Town Council. Gilliam has worked hard since way back last summer to massage the ASU campus toward the Citizens for Change personalities and their agenda. He's been grooming his bogeyman ("those folks") as well as his imaginary victims. He did his best on October 9th, and it didn't work. He became the subject of an editorial in the new student newspaper, "The Magpie" (not yet on-line), which criticized him for trying to bully the student body into doing his bidding. Clearly, Gilliam hasn't slowed down. We'll see if he's any more successful this time at stampeding students than he was back in October.

8. Some students, at least, really do have a clue about the larger forces at work here, and they look to the future beyond the sort of narrow self-interest that Gilliam seeks to stir up in his e-mail message.

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